In the press release for the The Stumps? debut recording ?Split Fleet Dodge? there is a reference to how one writer describes the band as a ?NZ underground supergroup?. I, however, feel the supergroup tag is a tad irrelevant. When Antony Milton, Stephen Clover, and James Kirk (members of Nether Dawn, seht, and Black Boned Angel, among other bands) started The Stumps, it seems just more of a natural progression of things rather than a conscious effort to be super. As a resident of a town that like Wellington, New Zealand is home to a ton of bands, I?ve seen firsthand how everyone plays in everyone else?s band. It?s only inevitable that the musical gene pool becomes inbred, and this incestuous union has produced a wonderfully weird mutant offspring.
The first side of ?Split Fleet Dodge? is all about the slow burn, creating a slowly evolving dronescape with a subliminal suggestion of feedback and pockmarks of primal drumming. "The Movement," an extended drone piece, starts off the album with the low moaning of a multitude of disembodied spirits. The drone is fed with an undercurrent of barely-there guitar feedback squall and subtly changes tone like a languid air raid siren, gradually increasing in its urgency until a sudden blast of drums comes in like a machete chopping through a giant spiderweb. What lies on the other side, the second track "That With The Greatest Mass (Will Be Indicated)," is slowly creeping terror, B-grade horror movie score fodder. Fog clinging to mossy grave markers while shadows dart in and out of your peripheral vision, then ratcheted up a notch once the frenzied drums blast off again and you realize that yes, in fact you are being chased.
On the other side of the LP, the trio is augmented by Campbell Kneale (Birchville Cat Motel) on keyboards and electronics. "Only Hook" begins as a churning, cacaphonous psych-noise circus sideshow freak out before settling into a narcotic deep space rock groove. "It Can Be To Us An Insect" wraps up the album with a mantra like keyboard note progression while occasional cymbal and guitar sounds flutter about like jagged winged moths.
This is the first release by New Zealand?s Palindrone Recordings, and if they keep putting out records of this caliber, they?re definitely a label to keep your eyes and ears on. 8/10 -- Antal Zambo (9 May, 2007)