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Fri 9 May 2008, 9:00pm

Where: Kings Arms, 59 France St, Newton, Auckland

Ticket Information:

  • Adult: $15.00
  • Additional fees may apply

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Listed by: axayalith

Round Trip Mars was established in 1998/9 originally with the sole intention of releasing records by the label's founders Phase 5 (Stinky Jim and Angus McNaughton). Phase 5 was formed after the dissolution of Unitone HiFi (also featuring the pair) in 1997. Since the release of the Phase 5 album it has been entirely run by Stinky Jim (lesser known as Jim Pinckney) though Angus McNaughton is still very involved, mastering every release as well as mixing the vast majority of them.

The label’s first release was a 12" – ’The Space Bar EP’ – in 1998 which was rapidly picked up for international release by Different Drummer (label based in Birmingham, UK formerly run by the Rockers HiFi) Though at that time it was hard to find many NZ shops interested in stocking local vinyl (especially non-dance material) the EP received airplay and promotional pressure from the likes of the Orb, Kid Loco, Jazzanova, Thievery Corporation and Coldcut overseas.

The momentum was continued with the labels next two releases, that took them out of the record bins of the aficionados and into the public eye. The Phase 5 ’Space Bar’ mini album featured revised versions from the vinyl release alongside a swag of old and new cuts for the digital punter. The ’Sideways’ compilation came about as a result of the upsurge of lateral minded artists (mainly from Auckland) who were producing exceptional music that fell outside of the traditional genre barriers. These artists included International Observer, SJD, Phase 5, Phelps & Munro, Juse, Pains People, Submariner, Kevvy Kev and Dooblong Tongdra.

The next release SJD’s ’Lost Soul Music’ was rated by many critics and punters as one of the best albums of 2001. It managed to scrape into the RIANZ album charts (by accident) in the slackest way possible reaching the lofty heights of #50 for a single week before slinking away to join the other miscreants. More importantly this album established SJD as an emerging talent and respected songwriter, virtually a unique position within the local electronic scene.

’Sideways Too’ the next compilation from the label in 2002, partially funded by Creative NZ, featured 13 local artists alongside the far from ’token Australians’ Tooth. This time the Sideways mob were augmented by the (totally un–similar) North Shore teenagers DJ Logikal and Michael Logie as well as other new faces Superfoot, Trillion and the aforementioned Tooth. The album was rated in the Dominion and Real Grooves 'Best of the Year' and in typical Round Trip Mars fashion hasn't been followed up, in order to avoid the typical, dreaded, compilation–series degenerative quality–control slide towards mediocrity.

There’s absolutely nothing mediocre about Slowpoke the next Round Trip Mars release in 2003. Having lulled listeners into a false sense of security with Horse Winning Without Rider, Phelps & Munro proceeded to confuse, alarm, soothe and delight with his full-length debut. Years later it remains an indefinable scorcher that gracefully perambulates between irresistible melodies and unabashed abrasiveness. It makes you talk crap like that – because it’s simply that good.

SJD’s Southern Lights released in 2004 is an altogether different fettle of kish. Developing some of the divergent strands from Lost Soul Music and adding a whole new bunch of tricks it marked his ascension to the top shelf of NZ songwriters as well as copping a proverbial gong or deux at the 2005 Music Awards. Our pal from Paris Kid Loco was keen to have a dabble with Sean’s parts and that spawned the Pic'n'Mix Edition which collected the videos from Southern Lights alongside other invited interferences from Phelps & Munro, James Duncan, MrWinter, Mood Unit, Greg Churchill and SJD himself.

Without the merest whiff of a BBQ International Observer's All Played Out was finally a reggae album that befitted the label. We get an awful lot of duffdub demos and rancidroots requests up at the Simplex but Mr Bailey had such a surplus of majestic melodies and pounding productions, that the hardest thing was what to leave off.

The late flurry of 2005 continued with the long awaited release of James Duncan’s Mirror Minor EP. Given that an EP is a degree of measured madness, or total insanity, in the prevailing retail climate of the last few years, it would have to be a very, very good EP, with the potential for a blistering album to follow, to make the grumpy curmudgeon that runs RTM even consider it. It is.

Released in the dying gasp of 2006 Jefferson Belt’s Table Manners carries the label’s core principles of musical adventurousness and perhaps a dollop of foolishness, to the nth degree. Curated from literally…kazillions of releas–worthy Belt bits she's a strange wee beastie, a hidden treasure and a sterling addition to the RTM armoury.

SJD’s fourth album Songs From A Dictaphone delivered much for Donnellyoholics to binge on, as well as giving the charts a gentle, but not inconsiderable, rubbing and ending up in a veritable plethora of End Of Year listifications and 5 star review shenanigans, and rightly so. The live band have gone from strength to strength, and are capable of dispensing knee–knockingly magnificent sets at the drop of a ’literary allusive ’ hat.

Next up are the latest additions to the unfeasibly over–endowed (in the talent department, that is) RTM roster, Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers, soon to be better known as The Naked And Famous. Their inescapably brilliant, 6 track EP This Machine is being unleashed to an unsuspecting public on 5 May 2008. EP2 is scheduled for later in the year, but by then we suspect you are going to know all about The Naked And Famous. There will be some super limited vinyl on the way, as well as the return of some old rhythm warriors who’ve been taking a very, very long and extended smoko.

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