Bill Direen & The Hat - The Flavour Of The Meat LP
GRAPEFRUIT YEAR THREE SERIES, RECORD THREE (2013, GY3-3)
Bill Direen and Hamish Kilgour go back to the early days of NZ’s Flying Nun label and even earlier, when the members of bands like The Clean and Vacuum would skulk to each other’s shows in small bars or run-down church halls in the suburbs of Christchurch.
In 1983, Direen and Kilgour were working within a cat’s call of each other, Hamish at Flying Nun Records and Bill at his Blue Ladder Theatre. The Clean worked out in the Blue Ladder rehearsal rooms and Bill and Alec Bathgate laid down the eerie ‘Spell’ there on reel-to-reel four-track.
But it wasn’t until 1989 that Bill and Hamish worked together on a recording project, when Bill visited NYC for the first time, staying downtown for a couple of months. Hamish, Lower East Side resident, invited some musician friends to make up a band; Bill flew a former Bilder up from Gainesville Florida.
2013 saw the long-living pair Bill and Hamish again in NY, performing in Hamish’s now-home Brooklyn, in Philadelphia and in East Village. Instores, radio shows and duos climaxed in a four-piece assault at Secret Project Robot with Miggy Littleton and David Watson, who brought their own energy to the mix . The chance meeting of the four started taking on the dimensions of a project when the group with fire in its veins was captured by Gary Olson at Marlborough Farms Studio.
Direen was first amazed by the improvisation skills of David Watson in Wellington (New Zealand) in the late eighties, when David was involved with the Braille improvisation collective. David has since carved a fearsome identity for himself out of inspired free manipulation of the bagpipes; he is so rightly respected for this in NYC and in Europe, that it is easy to overlook his other skill-research — deft Pollock-like investigations on his Gibson 335.
The 12 tracks range from garage pop to acoustico-electric assault, and most were recorded in a single session. Expect conventional songs with alternating bursts of improvisation.
Bill Direen, vocals, guitars, organs.
Hamish Kilgour, drums.
David Watson, bagpipes, semi-acoustic guitar.
Miggy Littleton, bass
All tracks were recorded on 17th and 20th May, 2013, at Marlborough Farms Studio, Brooklyn, with final stages in Rome and Paris, Europe. Gary Olson was the sound engineer. Bill Direen wrote songs 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, the music for 11 and concept charts for the improvs. The words for 11 are from Yeats’ Crazy Jane Grown Old Looks at the Dancers. Track 5 owes a debt to Piere Vidal Old by Ezra Pound, Track 1 to Rainer Fassbinder. Bill Direen (guitar, organs, voice), Hamish Kilgour (drums), David Watson (bagpipes, guitar) and Miggy Littleton (bass) invented 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10 at Marlborough Farms.