non compos mentis
ˌnɒn ˌkɒmpɒs ˈmɛntɪs/
- not sane or in one’s right mind
i.e. crazy’s electric folklore explores the qualities of individuals on the brink; the obsessive lover, the amnesiac killer, the indifferent stranger, the stifled child. Exploring the neurotic horror of the banal erupting symbolically and violently in their home country of New Zealand, i.e. crazy (aka Maggie Magee – formerly Claire Duncan of Dear Time’s Waste) roves through an unsettling and perverse array of human behaviours with a critical yet empathetic gaze, delving to scrape, sample and haunt the dregs of dirt we’d rather were left untouched.
An intense gestation period of live performance (often wielding little more than an electric guitar and a grimace) saw Maggie receive such eloquent praise as “you got balls, girl”, and “that was scary”. Now, three songs in, we’re knee-deep and there’s no going back – i.e. crazy’s debut Non Compos Mentis is ready for vinyl LP release with MUZAI Records on 21st April 2017.
Recorded between Magee’s home and the old family beach house in South Auckland, Non Compos Mentis sees Magee explore the refractions of small-town relationships, subjectively inhabiting the role of villain, victim and detective. As the mythic wandering womb travels around the body to hysteric effect, the songs duck in and out of allusory narrative alcoves. Teasing out moral standpoints with delicious care and a perverse pleasure, the boundaries of prescribed “sanity” are blurred. Where the real Maggie lies is anyone’s guess.
Maggie’s guitar serves as both an aggressively tugged phallus and delicately massaged feminine form; a tool of comic and desperate creativity at a time when rock is all but over in the mainstream Carrying echoes of hyperbolic rock music (NB: Hole, Swans) as much as the bard-like theatrics of Scott Walker and Current 93, Non Compos Mentis is schizophrenic and oppositional in style as well as content – the overwrought emotion reading like bad karaoke at times, dreary, dirge-like no-wave and drunken answer-phone confessionals at others. Like learning Shakespeare in rural New Zealand high schools; like trust-fund night-clubbers straddling a cab through the McDonald’s drive-through, it’s at the blurry intersection between foolishness and profundity. The album’s third pre-release outing The Ape (Plastic Surgery Song) echoes this paradox, bookending biblical imagery and narcissistic lovemaking with dreams of cosmetic surgery, highlighting Magee’s interest in messy bodies; as displayed in her self-directed videos for both You’re A Stranger (to me now) – “a barrage of emotional dysfunction and honest feeling (Otago Daily Times)” – and An Incident on the Edge of Town.
On Non Compos Mentis, Maggie’s joined by a raft of comrades; Catherine Cumming (Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing), Seth Frightening and Shab Orkestra all bring their signature to the recordings. The mix was then left to Sean Kelly of Seth Frightening – known for his pedantic and progressive mixing style – and mastering to James Goldsmith at Blue Barn Studios in Wellington.
The video for The Ape (Plastic Surgery Song) – due for release in coming weeks – sees Maggie team up with longtime Literal Fuck collaborator Veronica Crockford-Pound and editor Luke McPake (with whom Magee collaborated with on the documentary short Land of the Long White Stain) for a sensory ode to unglamorous and unpaid feminine labours.
With a move to Europe imminent; Non Compos Mentis will be celebrated with a solo show in Wellington’s Meow on Wednesday 12 April, and officially released at a launch party/show at Auckland’s Wine Cellar on 21st April. Maggie will be joined by the album’s featured guests throughout, along with performances from Seth Frightening and Diana Tribute. The last chance to witness these songs in the antipodes for some probable time, you’d best suit up and prepare for all soundness to be swallowed whole.