For the past 20 years, New Zealand’s the Renderers have dwelled in relative obscurity, releasing a handful of great, if largely unheard, records. In spite of this, the husband-and-wife duo of Brian and Maryrose Crook continue to engage fans with a persistently surprising and occasionally mind-blowing take on psychedelia. Last year, the group put out “A Rocket Into Nothing,” a slow-burning, guitar-heavy freakout that highlights the strengths of a unit indebted to its influences but also eager to push the envelope in a sometimes nerve-jangling fashion.
The album’s spooky opening dirge, “Down River,” tells the tale of a claustrophobic, Lynchian hellscape accompanied by noirish guitars and clanging bells. “I found myself there /Washed up in a place where the night is the only teacher,” Maryrose deadpans in a near-whisper. It’s intimate and creepy enough to want to hear where the song is taking her, even if the outcome might be terrifying.
The rollicking tale of love gone wrong, “Typhoid Mary,” is inspired by one of the saddest incidents in Western history. “Like Typhoid Mary / Amongst the lost and scared she tormented and tormented,” the lyrics snarl while guitars squeal through a seemingly busted amp. On the album’s final track, “Hypnotised,” Maryrose describes a somnambulant world that’s part industrial and part spiritual hell. It is a disconcerting, vertiginous noise experiment reminiscent of the John Cale-produced Nico album, “The Marble Index.”
Part Velvets, part Mekons, part unalloyed, indescribable weirdness, the Renderers are keen chroniclers of the many moral tragedies of contemporary times. It’s a bumpy ride, but one well worth taking.
“Down River,” “Typhoid Mary,” “Hypnotised”