New From NZ: Jakob, The Bilders, Proton Beast, The Biscuits
From post-rock and spoken-word to digi-noise and shouty pop, we round up four new offerings out of New Zealand.
? It’s been eight years between albums for New Zealand post-rock trio Jakob, but the first signs of new life have arrived with ?Blind Them With Science?, a seven-minute opus that has seemingly little to do with [Thomas Dolby](https://www.youtube.com/watch’v=-FIMvSp01C8). Rather, it’s a widescreen, cymbal-splashing voyage that swings between spacious diffuseness, Explosions in the Sky-esque guitar climbs and lurching psych-metal signifiers. It’s off Sines, a new LP due October 17. Recorded between Auckland and Napier with Isis engineer Jono Gardner and Nick Blow, the album is coming out in the US via adored Athens label [The Mylene Sheath](http://www.mylenesheath.com) and in Australia through Valve/MGM. Besides CD and digital, watch for a double-vinyl option.
? Everyone from Hamish Kilgour (The Clean, The Mad Scene) to Tall Dwarfs? Chris Knox has done time in The Bilders over the decades – and the band currently has unique incarnations based in Australia, New Zealand and Germany/Austria – but the core has always been Bill Direen. The man’s in fine form on a new three-song 7?, starting with the acidic hilarity of ?The Utopians R Just Out Boozin??. It’s cranky and fuzzy, with key traces of The Fall in there. The spoken-word vocals of ?Mardy? and the noisy live recording ?C.B.A.Z.Y. Extract? are just as interesting, while the former even has a sneaky pop sweetness. Direen’s live-wire volatility always comes across loud and clear, no matter the collaborators or musical setting. The 7? is out now via San Francisco label [SmartGuy](http://thebilders.bandcamp.com/releases), and also as a $3 download.
? Proton Beast have been dubbed ?digi-noise? by label [Muzai Records](http://muzairecords.com/), and the single ?Data? hammers home that descriptor. It’s at once raw and processed, kicking up flurries of prickly texture along with the odd bouts of unintelligible, vocodered singing. Think Red Line-era Trans Am: harsh and nocturnal, yet with a rascally gleam in its eye. ?Data? is the second single from the album Digitizer, due later this year on vinyl and digital, and follows the crunchier lead single [?Tetris?](https://soundcloud.com/muzairecords/proton-beast-tetris). The album sees duo Westley Holdsworth and Stuart Hardwood recruit new live and studio member Vaughan Williams (The D4, Shocking Pinks). ?Data?, meanwhile, was loosely inspired by the classic Aldous Huxley novel Brave New World.
? A bit like a cuddlier answer to [Coolies](/search/?q=coolies), Auckland’s The Biscuits make scrappy and shouty noise-pop. They’ve got two new releases in the lathe-cut 8? vinyl EP [Secret Crisis](http://thebiscuits.bandcamp.com/album/secret-crisis)*, which is almost sold out in physical form but is up for name-your-price download, and the live tape *[Tough Bikkies](http://thebiscuits.bandcamp.com/album/tough-bikkies)*. The latter comes half from a gig and half from band practice, and like the other EP it’s four songs and up for any price digitally. Being a rough-hewn live document, *Tough Bikkies* is certainly a lot more lo-fi than *Secret Crisis, but both offer a telling glimpse of the band’s harried vocals and primitive racket-making. Fun stuff.