Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ruane EP (2013) … and the Skeptics

One of the best things I’ve had on my pod over the past few weeks has been a great little EP offering from Ruane.

“Ruane” is Nick Roughan, ace sound engineer and producer, once of Palmerston North’s very own Skeptics.
According to the download’s blurb, the Ruane EP was conceived and created during archiving sessions for a documentary on the Skeptics over the course of 2011 and 2012.
The EP is a well produced set of five quite melancholic instrumental/electronic tracks. The mood feels a bit dark and challenging at times, but there’s a nice ebb and flow about these compositions, and it’s a pretty rewarding listen overall.

I’m not really sure if Ruane will amount to anything more than this intriguing one-off project, but Roughan has always been worth keeping a beady eye on, and this is a quality name-yer-price download experience.


I actually went to high school with (the then “Nicky”) Roughan, and although we barely knew each other, my first encounter with the Skeptics, or an early incarnation of the band, was a lunch hour gig, circa 1980, in the otherwise tranquil surrounds of Palmerston North’s Awatapu College Library. I recall it because never before had I encountered music quite so loud, raw, and experimental. The concept of ‘industrial strength noise as intelligent art’ was not something I was overly familiar with at the time.

I saw the band a few more times over the next couple of years, at least once in that hub of Palmy creativity otherwise known as Square Edge, it may have even been within the confines of the band’s very own Snailclamps venue at the rear of that building (it’s all a bit hazy), and possibly once or twice more in Wellington during later years.
The band’s wider local influence speaks for itself, and while cult status was secured as a bewildering live act in the Eighties, the Skeptics’ longer term legacy is best appreciated in the form of a number of highly coveted recordings, not the least of which is the fine Amalgam album.

Vocalist David D’Ath’s tragic death – due to that bastard we know and despise as leukaemia – brought things to a sad close in 1990, but not before the Skeptics had written their own special chapter in Kiwi underground rock music’s rich and colourful history.

I’ll leave you with this ‘Rocked The Nation’ clip which profiles the Skeptics’ most controversial moment, the banned ‘AFFCO’ video. It features D’Ath on vocals, and in the starring role, plus Roughan speaking near the end (despite being incorrectly tagged in the clip as someone called Nick “Roughman”).


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