By: Eric G.
Peter Jefferies has been on the fringe of New Zealand’s post-punk underground scene since fronting Nocturnal Projections almost eighteen years ago. He went on to form This Kind Of Punishment with his brother Graeme (The Cakekitchen), lacing his brother’s guitar work with haunting piano playing. Since then Jefferies has expressed his bleak vision as a multi-instrumentalist on several collaborations and solo offerings. It’s on his solo records, however, that Jefferies makes an indelible mark. His shapeless voice is an off-kilter baritone that sounds like a blank stare- eerie yet somehow serene.
On Substatic, Jefferies plays all of the instruments himself but never sings. There are only five lengthy instrumental pieces and they meander and drone with light piano driving the gray melodies that sometimes reach discordant levels. Jefferies layers his piano playing with shards of samples and loops. Some of the tracks, particularly “Index”, seem to beg for some sort of vocal melody to heighten the mood, but the closest we get is a sample of Mecca Normal that is buried so deep in the mix that it’s hardly effective.
Repetition, evidently, is the point here. One riff will surface and remain stagnant while the guitar and bass weave in and out as best evidenced on “Signal.” Jefferies’ motives are hard to understand on this record. The songs seem unfinished. There isn’t enough happening to warrant such attention to the instrumentation, which is very basic, but the overall effect is jarring.