For a long time it seemed that guitarist Roy Montgomery would be remembered, if at all, simply for playing on the first record ever released by New Zealand's renowned Flying Nun label. Though he and his band Pin Group put out two more singles after that historic 1981 release, in 1983 Montgomery went into semiretirement and didn't resurface until 1990, when he began writing and recording some truly stunning music, none of which has been readily available until just now. Last year the Chicago-based Kranky label released This Is Not a Dream, a compilation of music by Montgomery's band Dadamah, a group that combined the dry, droning songcraft of the early Velvet Underground with the noise-as-art attack of Pere Ubu. More recently, working under the name Dissolve, Montgomery recorded That That Is...Is (Not) (Kranky), a brilliant collection of wistful guitar duets with Chris Heaphy. Mixing instrumentals and vocal tunes, this quiet, dreamy record encompasses fascinating forays into dissonant sound sculpture as well as hauntingly lyrical tunesmithing. Montgomery's two forthcoming records of solo-guitar instrumentals--Scenes From the South Island (Drunken Fish) and Temple IV (Kranky)--both explore droning, quasi-ambient compositions that drift by like wind-borne hallucinations, swell with ghostly wailing, or shimmer with melancholy introspection. While there's no shortage these days of ambient sound dabblers and bedroom-bound guitar noodlers, Montgomery's music is vastly more sophisticated and beguiling than that of his peers. Given his long-standing reluctance to record and perform, you can be sure that he's returned to both activities because he has something to say. Friday, 9 PM, Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Liz Clayton.