HAINTS OF DEAN HALL
Real Groove Magazine wrote that the Haints album “has been dominating the stereo of late. Its slow lugubrious tones match the bitter chill outside, and this Tex Houston-produced beauty recalls prior local winners like the Renderers”
The Haints of Dean Hall are Stephen (formerly of the Subliminals), who lives in Auckland, and Kathryn, who resides in a small town near Melbourne, Australia. Their debut album was recorded during a brief visit Kathryn made to Auckland in the summer of 2005 around a few guitar tracks Stephen had composed. Kathryn was invited to put down vocals and provide some lyrics, most of which were impromptu. Around the sleeps of a five week old baby, the delicate and dusty songs were recorded anywhere that was far away enough as not to wake her up, using one mike and mostly acoustic guitar, in sessions that extended deep into the night. What initially started as a “wonder what would happen if” unfolded before them as ideas were jammed, structures worked out and main tracks put down in a day.
The songs are sung snatches of memory, of guarded references to a ‘Carteresque’ family album of ‘manners and mystery’. The CD artwork also reflects this; featuring still life photographs taken by Kathryn on one of many trips to the American South. Kathryn’s fascination with this part of the world, as well as her own upbringing around the Bunnythorpe area in the Manawatu, grants a natural cultural crossover in her mind. Stephen’s very distinctive guitar is often ghostly and yet occasionally brash. He has turned the squalling feedback sounds (that were his trademark in the Subliminals) in on themselves, resulting in sparse and delicate textures.
After the initial summer 2005 recordings, Kathryn returned to New Zealand for the final writing and completion of the remaining tracks. However, as the original late night sessions contained a certain organic and spontaneous magic, little was changed. Tex Houston, also known for sliding the faders on various 3Ds and Subliminals recordings, was bought in for the final mixing and mastering. The end result is a fragile, rural and low volume contemplative sound; where Julie Cruise meets the Carter Family
A Haint is a southern term for a ghostly steam rising off the road, often mistaken to be a ghost, as explained by Harper Lee in "To Kill A Mockingbird". Dean Hall is the old road hall Kathryn and Stephen imagined the recording to have taken place, the sound they wanted was the sound that might have been created in this empty wooden space.