Dive into a favorite from our collection at In Sheep’s Clothing NYC and join us for a listening party Thursday 4-8pm.
The story goes that Hydroplane, the self-titled first record from the Australian trio founded 1995, wasn’t supposed to exist. Founded as a one-off project by members of the Cat’s Miaow, Hydroplane intended to tease a would-be forthcoming album with a single-sided 7-inch single, but then never actually follow up with it – thereby ensuring a dose of one-and-done mystique.
It was to be called “Excerpts From Forthcoming LP.” The idea offered the group the freedom to explore outside of the hard-strumming guitar pop for which their day band had become known. The Cat’s Miaow had recently gone on hiatus after cofounder Bart Cummings took a pause on songwriting, he told the blog/label Cloudberry Cake.
“We never discussed it at the time. We just sort of stopped. There were a number of factors, the main one being that I wasn’t writing songs that I felt were worth recording, let alone releasing. Cam was living in either London or Sydney, but the moment that we ended for me was when we were rehearsing and Andrew [Withycombe] said he had a new song, but that he wanted to release it as Hydroplane. I said ‘Great, let’s hear it,’ but in my head I went, ‘the Cat’s Miaow has just ended.'”
Cummings continued: “After that, Kerrie [Bolton] and I did quite a bit in Andrew’s band Hydroplane. Hydroplane released 3 CDs and countless singles. I know some people think of it as a continuation of the Cat’s Miaow, but it was like starting a new band. Different influences, different way of writing and recording, different direction.”
Unlike the Cat’s Miaow, Hydroplane didn’t reflexively lean on the guitar as the driver, resulting in spacious experiments with what release notes call describe as “tape loops, manipulated samples and a borrowed Jupiter 4 …”
One of those singular records that exists in its own little world, the single-sided concept project became larger when their Michigan label, Drive-In Records, heard it and urged them to keep going.
“From the comfort of a Brunswick flat, they continued to record soaring melodies and restrained song structures to 4-track,” read the notes, “sculpting dramatic Radiophonic Workshop cues weighted in reverb and near-perfect dream pop lead by Kerrie Bolton’s empyrean vocals.”
Like the Cat’s Miaow and kindred Australian spirits Cannanes, Hydroplane didn’t earn much attention in Australia, instead landing deals with British, Spanish and American labels including Wurlitzer Jukebox, Elefant and Bad Jazz.
It’s a brilliant unsung post-rock, space rock, trip hop, dub pop experience, one that we added into our New York collection so that those in the area could hear it deeply and at proper volume.
On Thursday, the crew at Saturdays New York City will join us at In Sheep’s Clothing NYC to program an early-evening listening session that will feature selections and album sides by Hydroplane, Isabelle Antena, the Scientist, Marcos Valle, Pilgrims of the Mind, Charles Stepney and more.
All records that reward deep, uninterrupted listening, the selections in the four-hour Thursday session (4-8 p.m.) will offer a hint of the approach we’re taking to communal experiences based around great records.
Along with our friends at @saturdaysnyc we’ve built a playlist that teases some of the music we’ll be dropping the needle on. It was compiled from only records featured in our in-house collection.