Little Skull - A Wayside Shrine LP
"In early 2000s New Zealand, Little Skull started as a small project. Smallness was perhaps the defining characteristic. Lathe cut 7”s in vanishingly small editions, the intricate, fiddly covers hand- crafted with what one would have to assume were very small hands. Or just with the aid of tweezers perhaps. The labels of these records provided no information beyond an illustration of a small – little even – skull. The music was also mysterious and miniaturized but always had a contradictory sense of warmth and expansiveness, hinting at narrative worlds beyond the confines of those few minutes of recorded sound.
Now onto his sixth vinyl LP, Dean Brown’s packaging maintains the same intricate, handmade qualities, albeit in punishingly larger quantities (300 copies of this one, each pencil rubbing done by hand). The music, meanwhile, has really expanded outwards since those early 7”s, embracing that hinted-at push/pull between small and large. The first side of this carefully mastered, factory- produced LP even toys with craggy lathe cut-like audio artifacts and tape hiss coming and going in the mix, as if to remind us of the project’s beginnings. Before long we are into decidedly majestic, widescreen territory, suggesting Alastair Galbraith after a Herzog/Fricke bender. The second side- long suite covers even greater territory, conjuring both wild and woolly weather systems and feelings going unexpressed in dimly-lit 19 th Century drawing rooms. Writers may need to dust off the term “geological drone” from their old Surface of the Earth reviews but should also be prepared to find new ways to say “Satie-like” as things get almost shockingly musical. Small sounds but with an increasingly cinematic scope."
-Ben Spiers, West Oxfordshire, July 2023