Roy Montgomery

Roy Montgomery is a guitarist and academic from New Zealand.


'New Zealand guitarist Roy Montgomery has been involved with so much vital music that it’s hard to believe he’s spent most of his life not making any at all… His first solo work since 2001 is a 4xLP set that, at its best, plays like a shadowy dream' — Pitchfork

Across an array of peerless solo and collaborative releases on labels like Kranky, Siltbreeze and VHF Roy Montgomery is the architect of a widescreen drone aesthetic exploring psychedelic abstraction and pastoral minimalism that has proved to be highly influential. A key protagonist in the Christchurch 80s noise rock scene, his minimalist post-punk band The Pin Groupwere the first act to release on Flying Nun and lead to other explorations in short-lived drone project The Shallows and the gloriously open-ended freedoms of noise pop outfit Dadamah.

After a quiet spell, he returned in the late 90s, producing towering spires of guitar lines that exposed fragility between the strums. With his solo releases and in collaboration with Flying Saucer Attack, Bardo Pond(Hash Jar Tempo), and Chris Heaphy (Dissolve), his focus shifted from the truth-mining of rock music to epic celestialism. His ambitious yet humble tracks outstrip their origins, and Montgomery toured the world sitting cross-legged on the floor, playing twenty-plus-minute compositions.

A long period of silence followed, marked only with a split album with Grouper (who lists Montgomery as a primary influence), involvement in Torlesse Super Group, and a couple of thematic variations serving as soundtracks for films. He unexpectedly re-emerged in 2016 with R M H Q (also know as Roy Montgomery’s Headquarters) on Grapefruit/Ba Da Bing, four albums of new material released simultaneously that marked a return to his distinctive pastoral guitar style but added the rare sound of his singing voice. Like all of his catalogue listening to his work is a visceral experience with repeating phrases swelling and decaying, immersing the listener in the cyclical narrative of his compositions.

'The slow washes and thunder-cracks of guitar… come across like a grey Antipodean version of the tone poems of late European Romanticism, in which landscape might somehow be translated straight into musical texture: Sibelius in Lyttleton' — The Wire

Roy's latest release - a 10" single on Belgian label Okarina Records - sees him cover Leonard Cohen's Last Year's Man and collaborate with Montreal violinist Jessica Moss on B side After Vermeer.

This follows 2018's Suffuse - an album composed entirely for other vocalists and featuring the likes of Liz Harris (Grouper), Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux), Julianna Barwick and more.


Mark Slater