13 Aug 2016

The Reduction Agents Redux

From RNZ Music, 3:10 pm on 13 August 2016

Much like the scientific principle where a loss of electrons leads to a gain elsewhere, when Christchurch’s James Milne, Ben Eldridge, Jol Mulholland and Ryan McPhun independently found themselves in Auckland pursuing their musical dreams,  their collective amalgam produced one of the mid-2000s most beloved local indie-pop acts The Reduction Agents.

The Reduction Agents only released one album, 2006’s The Dance Reduction Agents, tunes such as Urban Yard and 80s Celebration became the mainstay of b-net playlists. Their live shows were memorable, raucous affairs. Bassist Jol Mulholland recalls one particularly shambolic Kings Arms show

“Ben had his delay pedal screaming with feedback, Ryan was just kicking his drums literally with his foot because everything was decimated, and I was lying there strumming my bass making a racket. I looked over and around, and James was the last man standing with his full Lawrence Arabia outfit on singing his heart out with this totalled band - a complete trainwreck...”

For the punters in the crowd, such as Lil Chief’s co-founder Scott Mannion and self-confessed Reduction Agents’ biggest fan Matt Crawley, it was exactly those stage antics and deftly rendered musical gems that had them “grinning like an idiot, dancing and screaming out the lyrics.”

For Crawley, it captured a particular epoch in the Auckland music:

The idea for the re-issue had been floating around for awhile, thought the ten year mark was a milestone worth celebrating, says label head, Scott who thought the album was deserving of a vinyl release and a remaster at the hands of Ed Cake.


While there are not any plans for The Reduction Agents to reform, there is plenty of music from the band member’s solo entities, such as Jol Mulholland’s Gasoline Cowboy, Ben Eldridge’s Goldonies, Ryan McPhun’s The Ruby Suns and James Milne’s alter-ego Lawrence Arabia.

And there is new twist to the band’s limited back-catalogue by of tribute album. Waiting For Your Love: A Tribute To The Reduction Agents features some endearing covers by Samuel Flynn Scott, Liam Finn, Tiny Ruins and Princess Chelsea. Suffice to say the reaction to The Reduction Agents’ reappearance is rather bubbly.

Yadana Saw tracked down a few of the people responsible.

Related audio

Music details

Artist: The Reduction Agents
Songs: Urban Yard, Couldn't Anymore, Waiting Your Love, 80s Celebration
Composer: J. Milne
Album: The Dance Reduction Agents
Label: Lil Chief Records

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