“This nation’s Sonic Youth” is the best way to describe the aural orgasm that is the music of The 3Ds. You don’t get music like this anymore. It’s the kind of music that you feel wrong listening to through an iPod. There is a jagged raw edge to the music that has been missing from albums since the days of tape and vinyl. Half the appeal of these demos and outtakes is the raw gritty dirtiness of the tracks. There is nothing over produced about it. What you’re hearing is four people actually thrashing the living shit out of their instruments and pulling your heart strings as they do it.
We bury the living features a wealth of material from the bands early days most of which feature on their first two EP’s Fish Tales and Swarthy Swabs. The Twenty One tracks - one for every year since they were first recorded – are enough to satisfy any Flying Nun craving. Compared to the actual EPs these, often live, demo versions allow you back stage into the rehearsal rooms to hear the songs as a product of interactions between the live band as they feed of each other’s energies and rock the hell out.
Twenty One tracks sounds like a lot to get through but the realisation that most of these are double ups adds a whole new dimension to the record. It allows for the comparison between renditions as never before. With three instances of Meluzina man it is possible to say it’s a toss-up between the first Instance of Meluzina man (Pile-Up version), the demo version or the version from the second EP. Each variation has its attractiveness. The first starts off beautifully and builds itself up progressively like waves coming in to shore. The female vocals are ethereal, coming in softly with shivers and goosebumps. The peak is soft and clean in comparison to the other versions and has progressed naturally. The second version is a lot dirtier; a more live, under-produced rendition. The peak invokes the same natural high you get at a live gig when the band is peaking. The third is somewhere in-between the other two. The extra layers of guitar and accelerated tempo bring the peak in quicker. All three exhibit the adorable Kiwi accent that is sadly fading out of New Zealand music.
The short and sweet Ball of Purple Thread is as close to Sonic Youth as the album gets. It’s begins with the steady drum of Native American dancing across a plain accompanied by female spoken word reminiscent of Sonic Youth’s Karen. The drums swell and the guitar picks up, before abruptly fading out into the heavy bass and dissonance of Evil Kid.
As well as instance of Sonic Youthish dissonance there are a few Nirvana-esque moments, my favourite of these being the pounding drums, screaming cymbals and heavy riffage of ‘First Church’. But this is no Nirvana clone. The mix is coupled with an ambience that is terrifying in its subtlety. It’s the sound of Indy cars on an F1 circle, if those cars were driven by Satan.
While the 3Ds are gone, their music lives on. I’ve listened to their remastered albums, but We bury the living settles some visceral sense of nostalgia that no other record can. If only it were an actual record. Then my life would truly be complete.
The 3Ds were Dunedin's top noisepop act during the early 90s. Formed in May 1988, The 3Ds could do no wrong. From their high energy and popular live performances to guitarist David Mitchell's crazy artwork of drunken sailors and naked whores they had a distinct take on Rock 'n' Roll.
The genius guitarplaying of David Mitchell, coupled with the ever-so-slightly warped pop song-writing sensibilities of David Saunders (with the occasional tune thrown in by Denise Roughan), made The 3Ds a fantastic band, both live and on album.
'Hellzapoppin' followed two stunning EPs on Flying Nun and was preceded by an equally impressive David Saunders song, 'Outer Space', a storming wigged out single which bursts into the trademark Mitchell wiggly lead line. "I left my face, in outer space."