TOM BAILEY IS a name many will remember from his pop group The Thompson Twins, a trio that, for a brief blip in the mid-‘80s was the biggest band in the world. What is less well known is what happened to Bailey – the group’s only real musician and songwriter – when he retired from the commercial arena, and for some years, lived in New Zealand.
Apart from his face-lifting production and instrumental work on local group Stellar’s most successful releases, Bailey used his time in the Antipodes primarily to explore a music style he had loved for many years: Jamaican dub. His International Observer project was a creative outlet that was almost the antithesis to his years in the commercial spotlight, and IO’s deeply introspective electronic dub, when you listened closely, revealed hitherto disguised brilliance.
The under-heard Seen from 2001 is still the most magnificent slice of electronic music to have originated from NZ, and one of the best-sounding recordings from this country, too. But listen carefully to Seen, and you’ll hear Bailey’s melodic gift, and the benefit of his training and interest in classical music in the subtle inflections and modulations. It’s a record that I never grow tired of, and keep in my pile of hi-fi test discs.