Ballon D'Essai

An edgy post-punk sound, an extroverted vocalist and confident use of art and image separated Christchurch’s Ballon D’essai from the garage rock influenced indie core in the southern city in the early to mid-1980s.

With influences ranging from PIL to The Fall, to white funk bass and Velvety spider leads, the young twin bass quintet produced two intriguing yet patchy EPs for Flying Nun in 1981 (This Is The Level Crossing) and 1983 (Grow Up) and a posthumous tape (R.I.P.) for Failsafe Records in 1986.

Grow Up sleeve (1983)
3D promo artwork of Scott Wilkinson. Ballon D'Essai released all their records with often stunning 3D graphics to accompany them.
Matt Campbell, Lyndon Fraser, Stephen McIntyre, Mark Rastrick, Scott Wilkinson
Matt Campbell Downes short film, The Dregs, based on his time in a garage band.
Ballon D'Essai,1981 at Christchurch Polytechnic. Left to right: Stephen MacIntyre, Lindsay Davis, Mark Morte, Scott Wilkinson, and Hugh Meatax Stromboli
Photo credit: Photo by Hugh Fitzgerald. Simon Grigg collection. 
Smash Crash

The group was flush with artists prompting complex multi-colour covers, the first EPs in 3D, and three issues of the cartoon based Ballon D’Comic.

Lyndon Fraser is a published, historian at University of Canterbury.

Stephen McIntyre died suddenly in 2012.


Stephen McIntyre - bass, guitar

Lindsay Davis - guitar

Hugh Fitzgerald - bass

Mark Rastrick - vocals

Scott Wilkinson - drums

Matthew Campbell - bass

Lyndon Fraser - guitar

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