new zealand electronic poetry centre


 Capital of  the minimal
P e t e r   S t a p l e t o n


Peter Stapleton on Metonymic

Metonymic grew out of a desire to release our own material and has continued to evolve as a focus for a developing group of New Zealand experimental musicians, visual artists, and filmakers. Originally conceived as a response
to limited resources, a distinctive Metonymic aesthetic has emerged, using a hi-tech/low-tech mix of analogue and digital, utilising sophisticated design and low-cost materials. The music itself intersects a number of established
genres such as free-jazz, experimental classical, musique concrete, and noise-rock. Above all the emphasis is on encouraging the experimental and the innovative.

The name Metonymic was chosen deliberately because it had dictionary meanings such as ‘axis of combination’ and ‘beyond metaphor’ which seemed to relate well to the whole process of improvisation. There was also a strong desire for the label artwork to be identified with and evocative of the music. We wanted a unified aesthetic in all the artwork and packaging.

I think Metonymic releases music that involves a series of intensities arranged in such a way that there is a feeling of travelling through a landscape and hopefully achieving a sense of resolution at the end of it. Overall I’d describe the music as ‘filmic’. We always use film as an added element in live performances and in the future hope to combine music and abstract film in releasing CDRs. Reviewers sometimes pick up on this, with Bananafish describing Sediment by Rain as like ‘floating on a magic carpet over the city’, and Le Mal by Flies Inside the Sun as ‘driving through dense improvisational fog.’

Along with Corpus Hermeticum  I think Metonymic has a role as a focal point for New Zealand underground music. There have been complaints from the US about how ‘incestuous’ this whole scene is but the simple fact is that there aren’t many people here and of course there are even fewer playing improvised music. We have a very small world-wide audience but I feel that the people who do listen really listen, and that is gratifying and certainly enough of a reason to continue.




Commentary by Piero Scaruffi




Violet Stains Red [mp3 : 7.8MB]

The NZ free music hydra pops up another head in the form of Rain, a trio comprising Kim Pieters (Dadamah, Flies Inside the Sun, Doramaar), Danny Butt (Tanaka-Nixon Meeting), and the ubiquitous Peter Stapleton. Sediment is their first full length release, and is the first for Peter Stapleton’s new label Metonymic, again presented as a white card origami cypher. Draw an imaginary line through Dadamah, Flies Inside The Sun, and Doramaar, and keep that line going way, way further out into the realms of intuition and feeling, and you will eventually intersect the space inhabited by Sediment. The typical track is a lagoon of sound, filled with agitated guitar scratchings, snare and cymbal cascades, bass rumbles, eddies of synth and Kim’s sleepwalking vocal drowning at the bottom of the mix. At the apex of this fine achievement is Violet Stains Red, an exquisitely attenuated piece working forward from almost-Japanese drum forms and temple noises into fragile and hesitant song fragments which sound like the imagined output of a badly-hungover Raincoats rehearsal session. An astonishing moment from an astonishing disc. And so ends an improvisational triptych that adds elements of free jazz, music concrete and minimalism to the Xpressway garage noisenik manifesto and bears witness to the evolution of a new Dunedin sound that connects with similar explorations on labels such as Japan’s PSF and Philadelphia’s Siltbreeze. [Tony Dale/Ptolemaic Telescope No.21 (UK)]



Ether  [mp3 : 5.7MB]

…Their latest release is Sleep, a collaboration between Pieters and Stapleton along with Susan Ballard (Unspecified, Sferic Experiment) and Nathan Thompson (Sandoz Lab Technicians). Together they work in a low-fi free improv idiom using drums, feedback, violin, guitar and vocals to create an occasionally jazz-influenced and transcendental reverie. The low-fi recording ambience has a nice use of reverb and an almost feral quality. The quartet fuse improvised Middle Eastern reed melodies, dramatically militaristic percussion and the random chiming of hammered-on guitar, the latter sounding like a freeform music box ensemble. [Dan Vallor/Muckraker No.9 Summer 2000 (USA)]


Flies Inside the Sun

Burn  [mp3 : 4.2MB]
Dust & Equation [mp3 : 6.3MB]

Of the myriad of individuals who are currently trying to affect the tide waters with their own brand of noise-generated gravitational pull, Kim Pieters, Peter Stapleton, and Danny Butt induce the spring and neap like no one else. On their second release [s/t] as Flies Inside the Sun, the gang of three (sometimes also known as a trio called Rain) are again joined by guitar-welding comrade Brian Crook. The first five tracks on this latest outing range from delicate, ether-soaked arias (Casanovas, Burn) to episodes of all-out barometric disruption (Living in the real World, Devil). The overall performance shows a mature group of improvising musicians who listen to each other as deftly as they listen to themselves and their contributions to the sound at large. [Mike Trouchon/Opprobrium No.4 December 1997 (NZ)]


©Peter Stapleton 2004


Last updated 13 July, 2004