Tall Dwarfs

Unravelled: 1981 - 2002

Image of Tall Dwarfs - Unravelled: 1981 - 2002
Record Label
Merge Records

About this item

Unravelled: 1981–2002 shines a loving light on lo-fi pioneers Tall Dwarfs, the prized New Zealand duo of Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate. The collection, available as a 4-LP or 2-CD box set, compiles songs from Tall Dwarfs' two decades of recordings. The vinyl edition includes a 20-page collector's booklet of photos, comics, posters, and other ephemera. The songs on Unravelled: 1981–2002 were curated by Alec Bathgate, who also designed the box set packaging; Chris Knox suffered a debilitating stroke in 2009 just as they had started work on a new album. The collection captures the different sides of the Tall Dwarfs in 55 songs. Though the band was an excuse for two good friends who lived in different cities to get together, drink beer, watch shitty old movies, and do some recording and drawing, Tall Dwarfs created music unlike anyone else.

Capturing the initial excitement of creation and taking pride in what they did, Knox and Bathgate showed a whole generation of musicians what could be done at home on a 4-track and what magic could be made if you mixed pop melodies and hooks galore with homemade sounds. After a failed flirtation with success in their previous band Toy Love, Knox and Bathgate formed Tall Dwarfs in 1981, opting to record themselves on a 4-track reel-to-reel. New Zealand’s AudioCulture wrote of the duo’s project: “Early live performances were a ramshackle work in progress. Knox described them in an interview with American magazine Forced Exposure as ‘two minutes of song followed by five minutes of fucking around,’ and they dismayed many Toy Love fans—but the pair had no interest in a career spent in pubs cranking out ‘Pull Down the Shades.’”

Tall Dwarfs was meant to be a one-off, but after the founding of their New Zealand label Flying Nun, they continued to record music for the next 21 years, releasing seven EPs and six albums. Their process was spontaneous, with songs being recorded as they were written. Typically, Bathgate would work up something on guitar while Knox provided vocals, lyrics, and tape loops. Then they added any sounds that seemed necessary to finish a song, using whatever was lying around: pans, chairs, baby rattles. Though Tall Dwarfs could be weird, they were never too experimental; Knox and Bathgate both loved melody too much


CD 1:

1 Nothing’s Going To Happen
2 Luck Or Loveliness
3 All My Hollowness To You
4 Maybe
5 Pictures On The Floor
6 Clover
7 Paul’s Place
8 The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
9 Walking Home
10 Beauty
11 Turning Brown And Torn In Two
12 Crush
13 Shade For Today
14 Pretty Poison
15 Carpetgrabber
16 Sleet
17 Burning Blue
18 Woman (Live)
19 Road And Hedgehog
20 Attack Of The Munchies
21 The Slide
22 Waltz Of The Good Husband
23 Cant
24 Dog
25 The Winner
26 Bodies
27 Sign The Dotted Line
28 Rorschach
29 Pirouette

CD 2

1 Wings
2 Lowlands
3 Oatmeal
4 Think Small
5 Life Is Strange
6 We Bleed Love
7 More 54
8 Entropy
9 Bee To Honey
10 Self-Deluded Dreamboy (In A Mess)
11 The Green, Green Grass Of Someone Else’s Home
12 The Severed Head Of Julio
13 Two Minds
14 Jesus The Beast
15 Albumen
16 Cruising With Cochran
17 Fatty Fowl In Gravy Stew
18 The Ugly Mire Of Deep Held Feelings
19 Gluey, Gluey
20 Round These Walls
21 Room To Breathe
22 Time To Wait
23 Baby It’s Over
24 We Are The Chosen Few
25 The Fatal Flaw Of The New
26 Over The Hill

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