Since its release in 1996, Surface of the Earth's self-titled first album has gradually been recognized as an unlikely minimalist masterpiece and one of the key albums to emerge from New Zealand’s 1990’s Free Noise movement. Liberated from tonal and structural convention, yet also embracing elements of drone and ambient music, the Wellington trio created an album that defied easy categorization. It has been called "one of the most important albums to ever drag the subterranean vibe of unending drone into the stifling, weirdly beautiful vista of urban decay", and has drawn parallels with the works of Phill Niblock, William Basinski and Éliane Radigue, as well as Tony Conrad and John Cale. It is a rare album where players, instruments and space coexist and play equal parts - coalescing to create a new, monumental kind of music - one that is both haunting and embracing, dark and transcendent.
The album began as a limited edition, self-released cassette in 1995. Later it was made available as a double lathe-cut LP in an edition of 20 before eventually being released on CD by Bruce Russell’s legendary Corpus Hermeticum label alongside works by A Handful of Dust, Flying Saucer Attack, Thurston Moore and The Shadow Ring. It was recorded live between 1994 and 1995 with two microphones to cassette in a cavernous wooden community hall in the city center of Wellington NZ; the music created with a shambolic collection of cheap, hardly functioning electric guitars, ancient NZ made valve amps and a scant few effects, reverb, walkie talkies, dictaphones and a synthesizer with its keys taped down.
For all of that - the album sounds like a field recording from another world: dark tones reverberate, metals echo and clatter and electricity crackles, blooms of feedback emerge held in suspension - half floating, half driving through a dense nocturnal atmosphere. Though there is hardly a musical gesture to be found on the album - over its nine pieces and nearly 80 minute duration it courses with an undeniably organic, human energy; it develops and sustains with a sort of terrifying beauty that evokes elation and dread, a tension and ease that transports the listener to another sort of dimension that few, if any, artists have ever been able to reach.
Thin Wrist is ecstatic to present Surface of the Earth for the first time ever in its complete form, newly restored and remastered from the original tapes and presented in a deluxe tip-on gatefold 2LP edition with black pigment ink foil stamping on pure black tactile reef paper.