A kind of woman-machine interface with wry, 1960s girl-group-influenced songs about fragile relationships, and perfectly complemented by the vulnerability of her cheap technology, no one can have expected Isolation Loops (2007), recorded in a remote South Island cottage in winter, to be both her long-playing debut and her masterstroke.
With songs of loss, longing and astronomic phenomena, and an enticing mix of organic and synthetic (not to mention those spiralling layered vocals), it garnered gushing praise internationally, and led to her signing with American label Drag City.
Two more critically garlanded albums followed – My Electric Family (2009) and Bachelorette (2011) – along with much touring in the US, both as headline act and as support to indie favourites like Animal Collective, Bill Callahan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy.
After touring her self-titled 2011 release, however, Alpers confirmed that the Bachelorette project had run its course, and she took a few years hiatus to work up enthusiasm for a new phase of musical activity. However she did concede to a few dates here and there in 2012 and early 2013 in the US, where she now lives.
In 2017, Alpers announced a crowd-funding campaign for a new project under the name, Hamerkop, which was a duo with fellow Baltimore-based music Adam Cooke (a drummer and audio engineer). The concept was to create music that could be played in surround sound, with five speakers and one sub (the same as in movie theatres), so the music comes from everywhere rather than the focus being on the stage.
She undertook her first live dates using this approach in 2019, which included a performance at the Auckland Fringe. This project led to the album, Remote (2020), which was released through Drag City (worldwide) and Flying Nun (AU/NZ). Its release was supported by shows in their hometown of Baltimore and a few dates in New Zealand that included performances at the Christchurch Art Gallery and the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival. This Bachelorette may be no more, but Alpers’ music will no doubt stretch long into the future.
Updated by Gareth Shute
Annabel Alpers’ pre-Bachelorette groups in Christchurch included Hiss Explosion, surf band Hawaii Five-O and Space Dust.
She gained a degree in composition at the University of Canterbury, followed by post-grad studies in computer-based composition at Auckland University.