Formed as an instrumental guitar and drums duo for a one-off performance to help out some friends who needed a support band Substandard's chemistry was ripe for more musical adventures and gained momentum with the addition of a bassist.
The usual collection of support slots ensued leading up to headline performances and swelling audiences as word spread.
Substandard play open graceful soundscapes punctuated with focused bursts of density, hook-laden and often beautifully.
The band enjoyed the freedom of working
without a frontman or singer, leaving more opportunity to get lost in the music without those
distracting vocals. Style wise the band mines similar musical territory to bands like
Mogwai, Bailterspace, HDU, the Subliminals and Sonic Youth, with just a whiff of darker
Cure and Joy Division in the rhythm section. Space-rock, postrock, sonic-rock
whatever...!!! Combining the basic elements of drums, bass and guitar, and weaving
them into a blend of melodic, chaotic music. Dark at times but never nasty.
The Band consist of Danny Bare - Guitar and FX, Andrew
Robins - Drums, and Gareth Heta - Bass Guitar.
Substandard subscribe to an independent ethos, having
self-released and hand made their first self tilted EP, and their second "Low
Electric City Pulse" release.
For their debut full-length album the band have worked
with Failsafe Records to push their sound in new directions, focusing and widening it.
The album reveals a side of the band that is more orchestral in scope, almost hypnotic
Since their formation they have made numerous appearances
around the Christchurch alternative music scene, playing at the Dux, Wunderbar,
U.C.S.A., Teacher's College, Provincial Hotel, Jetset Lounge, Media Club, Creation
and even a slot at The Gathering, playing alongside many well-known and not-so-well-known
bands such as: Trans
Am, David Kilgour, Degrees K, Clowndog, Hooster, Slipstream,and
Stereogram. The two EP's have also graced the airwaves with RDU playlisting
the song The Reactionary off the 2nd EP.
From the school of HDU and the Subliminals Substandard
have now graduated with full honours. This Christchurch band's debut album, "Global
Research Systems", is another 2003 release from Failsafe
and their 'big country' sonic instrumentals are as stunning
and compulsive as the finest single malt. This trio take
the guitar and drum ethic to un-naturally impressive heights,
and after two self-released EPs this album is their masterwork
to date. The music of Substandard summons up swirling
tones and tunes, wrapped around space(d)-rock rhythms
and the sound of guitars well past 11. At once complex
accessible and inspiring, "Global Research Systems"
is a collection of powerful compositions. Substandard are anything but that.
Brent Cardy - June 2003. Real Groove magazine
SUBSTANDARD "Global Research Systems" (Failsafe)
* * * *
This album is a cracker if you like guitars, drums, and
tonal soundscapes. The band mine similar territory to
the likes of Bailter Space, HDU, Subliminals etc - it's
all about textures. But the young Christchurch three-piece
have their own take on the sonic soundscape, and, strangely,
while they don't have any lyrics, their songs seem more
emotional than the likes of HDU. Well recorded and stylishly
packaged this is a great disc, and captures a band that knows exactly what
Nick Gormack - Christchurch Press
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