Bill Direen, writer/musician, is a Kiwi legend of low-fi. At the launch of his doco film, A Memory of Others, directed by Simon Ogston, I was lucky to pick up his 2017 vinyl rerelease Chrysanthemum Storm, which shows why he is so renowned in this genre. At times part of the Flying Nun stable, Direen/Bilders have woven consistently rewarding sounds over a long career and toured extensively.

A seasoned performer Direen can cross over genres with ease, and then enter into a moment of poetry/drama on stage similar to the great Jim Morrison. His latest release for me is more in the category of Spoken Word, or poems set to music rather than being a rockin’ low-fi recording.

Move Along Love Among is a downloadable album (or cassette release in Germany) complete with booklet containing photos and lyrics. There are 11 tracks recorded on 11 December 2020 at Strath, Taieri, Otago. Mastered by Johannes Contag of Cloudboy.

I was impressed at the simple sound constructions on offer. Tracks like Valve convey the sense of the heart beating and pounding away with Direen’s incessant words delivered over the top: Valve once open valve must close, / heart quickens heart slows. In a time when recording artists like Halsey and Lana Del Rey have entered into publishing poetry books, Direen’s album is not far off what Del Rey has achieved with her poetry album CD: Cinema of love never more true, / in campervan road without end.

My favourite track is probably the mystical and passionately delivered lyric World of the Winds. A Persian feel to it. Tales of the winds / & valleys and thieves / The rat makes no move / it escapes by instinct / Silence its harmony/  darkness its dress. This track hits your senses like you’re inside a passing desert sand storm, a jellaba covering your face.

A couple of lyrics are very short. Rain on the Strath has echoes of Andrew Fagan’s short Spoken Word sound pieces. The Calmest Story shows Direen’s evocative storytelling ability. The folk musician meets Dylan Thomas: When I hear the beauty / of her voice falling from her window / into the bright blue empty sky. / Not straight down but like a ribbon / in the old paintings, / lines that a scarecrow might scribble. Another good release from Bilders. All proceeds to “Book Guardians Aotearoa to the fight to save the National Library International Research Collections”.

Reviewed by Mark Pirie for Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa website

Mark Pirie is a Wellington poet, publisher, PANZA member, and a former dee-jay on Active 89FM (1993-1996).  He has followed Bill Direen’s music and writings for many years. He has published Direen’s writings in his journals JAAM and broadsheet, and stayed with Direen in Paris in 2005. PANZA owns and holds a number of Direen’s poetry volumes.

Mark Pirie, with Bill Direen at his Wellington concert, October 2016
Photo: David Moore