Dunedin’s trace/untrace label has steadily been releasing some of the city’s best music over the last four years, including albums by Koizilla, Bediquette and Neive Strang. This time, the spotlight falls on Bathysphere and their debut album ‘Heaven is Other People’.
Formed by trace/untrace founders and musicians Julie Dunn and Richard Ley-Hamilton (also of Males and Asta Rangu), the band line-up is a strong one that includes Josh Nicholls (Koizilla, Space Bats Attack), and Peter McCall (Fazed On A Pony).
All those involved create a musical sound that is dense, but also layered and textural. Dunn’s unearthly, often indistinct, vocals swirl in amongst the instruments rather than sitting above them, and at times melt into the instruments. This works particularly well on Codeine where the vocals drift away into the sound bed.
Although stylistically reminiscent of shoegaze, ‘Heaven is Other People’ also has a strong vein of propulsive alt-rock, seen on Shrunken Head and Sleep In, and in the (initially) delicate Winter, where the strummed guitar and hushed vocals develop into a cacophony of sound and cries, before falling away into a void. It’s a stunning track.
‘Heaven is Other People’ was live-tracked in a hallway in late 2020 over one day, with overdubs and technical work done the following day. This direct, spontaneous approach works well on the record, capturing the power and urgency within the music. This is a beautiful record that creeps into your psyche and stays there. A perfect Dunedin album, some might say.