BAILTER SPACE - Tanker LP (Flying Nun/1988)I like surprises. You know, I've never even mentioned these guys before in this blog, and yet I revisited this LP today and decided they were worth a paragraph or two. Most of you reading this have probably heard of them before. Originally featuring Hamish Kilgour from The Clean (he plays here), the band eventually mutated into a revived version of the uber-terrific Gordons - that is, the exact same line-up - though the approach was much different to that outfit. Whereas the Gordons, as represented on their single and sole LP, were stark 'n' dark and about as jagged and depressing as a post-punk outfit ca. 1980 could get (outside of The Fall: and all of these qualities are good things, by the way), Bailter Space contained a definite sense of expansive warmth in their sound. No more sharp edges, no more yelling and screaming; Bailter Space were about melodies and fuzz. I could compare 'em to My Bloody Valentine or Sonic Youth, as there is some sort of superficial resemblance there, but the similarities are precisely that: superficial. For one, it could be argued that the fellows from the Gordons basically helped invent the musical blueprint which Sonic Youth later developed on - that is, the Gordons predate Sonic Youth as a band - and Bailter Space are still heavily steeped in that classic En Zed sound, with thuck accents and that slightly anemic, Anglofied sound epitomised by approx. 99% of NZ's musicians. There's a lot of bands who make a noise somewhere hovering Bailter Space's universe (just think of the ten-million collegiate types copping moves from MBV and SY's discography as I write this!), though the Bailter lads certainly had the songs, at least on Tanker. There's a couple of Fall-ish tracks, such as "Your Invisible Life" and "One More Reason", though the studio warmth wins out on most of this, w/ swooshing tracks such as "Grader Spader" and the title song: all chiming guitars, studio trickery and phased vocals. If I was to explain it to a layman, I'd possibly say something along the lines of it being a less linear, slightly more cosmic and ambitious take on Sonic Youth's Goo... but this predates that disc by 2 years. Again, they were ahead of the game. Bailter Space released a whole stack of LPs throughout the '90s and I never bought any of 'em. I did manage to catch them live a couple of times when they swung through town throughout that decade, and each and every show was an event not be missed. This is probably the last time I'll ever mention Bailter Space in this blog, so I'll call them this: quiet achievers. I won't be raving about 'em too often, but since I bought this LP in '91 and still play it semi-regularly, I'd call that recommendation enough.