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Experimental guitarist Roy Montgomery was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, forming his first band, the teen garage combo the Psychedeliks, in 1971. After serving out the remainder of the decade in similarly obscure outfits including Compulsory Fun and Murder Strikes Pink, he co-founded the seminal Kiwi post-punk trio the Pin Group in late 1980; their debut single, "Ambivalence," was also the first record ever issued on the now-legendary indie label Flying Nun, its echoing, darkly melodic guitar sound foreshadowing the evocative sonic approach Montgomery would continue to pursue for the remainder of his career. After the Pin Group disbanded in 1982, he received a $750 National Arts Council grant to form the Shallows a year later, producing their lone single "Suzanne Said" in 1985. However, he then spent the next five years largely removed from music, instead balancing his studies of Russian language and literature with his interests in cinema and avant-garde theater.Read More...
Montgomery returned to performing in 1990 after a chance meeting with fellow Pin Group alum Peter Stapleton led to an invitation to join the experimental noise-pop band Dadamah. After a handful of releases the group splintered in 1993, with Montgomery resurfacing the following year with his first solo effort, Scenes from the South Island; with fellow guitarist Chris Heaphy, he also formed the duo Dissolve, issuing their LP That That Is...Is (Not) that same year.
In 1994 Roy Montgomery began a trip around the world that would result in a wealth of releases. After finishing the initial Dissolve album with Chris Heaphy in New Zealand, he visited the U.K. and played live with Flying Saucer Attack and accompanied writer Kirk Lane. While in Guatemala, he spent the night at one of the temples at the Mayan ruins in Tikal. On a stop in Chicago he got a $65 guitar in a pawn shop, a Teisco matching the one Roy's favorite Hound Dog Taylor modeled on the cover of his first album. Arriving in New York City, Montgomery apartment sat, borrowed a four track tape deck and started recording.
Montgomery told Pop Watch that
"...my most productive burst of activity took place in a tiny apartment in the East Village of Manahattan, where, you might assume, you would not be able to hear yourself think let alone make and record music, especially if you are a little peasant from the Antipodes. In actual fact, the experience of being there for three months was one of the most tranquil experiences of my life, and the neighborhood in which I stayed indeed seemed much like a village - and a relatively sleepy one at that."
Mixing a bunch of four track recordings and doing overdubs with engineer Brendan Burke at Loose Booty studios in Chicago, Montgomery put together music that became a series of seven inch singles and two albums. kranky released the Temple IV CD in 1995. Inspired by that night at Tikal, the pieces on the album were recorded in open tuning and are pure instrumentals.
Dawn Sutter described the album in a Feb. 1996 issue of CMJ New Music Report:
"...Roy Montgomery writes on the inner sleeve of Temple IV that it was inspired by a trip to the Northern Guatemalan rain forest where he endured physical discomforts and attempted to come to terms with the death of a love. Though its nice to have a concrete description, those words are unnecessary. Temple IV is like an opera in a foreign language with no translation, where through the music alone, the listener is able to ascertain what the circumstances were, what the mood was and other background information... The lush songs on Temple IV are brimming with an aching sadness, violent anger and exhausting relief. This intensely beautiful album does not come as a surprise... the ravishing feedback on Temple IV expresses more than most words."
Danny Housman wrote in Option that Montgomery "layers his guitar on a four track here for hypnotic, long stretches that veer from incredibly lush to abrasive and purgatorial."
The next few years saw a bunch of releases bearing Roy Montgomery's name, as well as his collaborations with Bardo Pond under the name Hash Jar Tempo. He got together again with Chris Heaphy to record music originally written to accompany a play, that kranky released as Roy Montgomery / Chris Heaphy True. More recently, Roy Montgomery has moved back to New Zealand, started a family and begun a career as an university lecturer. In December 2009, he released a split with Grouper on Root Strata, and in 2011 released the debut CD by his guitar/electronics duo with Nick Guy, Torlesse Super Group.
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