They’ve opened for Wire and Holy Fuck, countless revered bands of NZ’s underground and successfully covered M.I.A without being sued. The Bemsha Swing’s tireless tour-of-duty in New Zealand’s underground scene finally comes to ahead with the release of their debut album, Against Friends and Lovers, from September 14th.
With a band name taken from the work of hallowed jazz pianist Thelonious Monk and a line up reminiscent of Big Black, this premise alone may create some trepidation regarding the Auckland duo (and their drum machine). It’s that trepidation though which gives The Bemsha Swing’s work that little bit more urgency to listen to.
That the band can boast they were personally chosen by Wire, considered one of the central groups that help forge the post-punk movement, gives you and indication of the left-field nature Shane and Andrew can take with their music. Regular listeners to 95bFM will attest to this as singles “Spitting Spite” (from their EP, Bop!), “XXXO” (an M.I.A cover that her label informed them they enjoyed) and more recently “Question Marked” may all have the distinctive elements that mark them as Bemsha Swing songs, yet all have a sense of polarity from one another.
With an album that is as much divisive as it is harmonious (something that you may have felt having read Thelonious Monk and Big Black in once sentence), the band shopped the mastering process of their debut album across to the United States, enviously having their album nurtured to it’s fullest potential by Jeff Reeves of New York’s iconic Masterdisk; who have mastered albums such as Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream. Jeff Reeves, a specialist in mastering jazz along with indie and alternative, was more than the ideal choice to master Against Friends and Lovers – understanding and undeniably “getting” the interesting genre hopping a band such as The Bemsha Swing have chosen.
“perfect time signatures [...] eloquent, fast-as-fuck beats that they gracefully play over… ”
- Einstein Music Journal