Pumice is the long-running, endlessly inventive project of New Zealand native Stefan Neville, whose shambolic music is equally reminiscent of Kiwi pop groups such as the Clean and Tall Dwarfs as well as the country's experimental noise-rock bands like the Dead C. Largely recorded solo by Neville on junky equipment, his songs typically feature blown-out guitars, wheezing chord organs, and vocals disguised by tape hiss and static. His songs might seem haphazard to the untrained ear, but they reveal a deep reverence for pop and even blues songwriting on repeated listens. Often joined by Sugar Jon Arcus, Matthew "Ugly Dog" Davies, and other musicians, Neville began recording music as Pumice in the early '90s, issuing limited cassettes, vinyl releases, and eventually CD-Rs on his own Stabbies and the Rocket Recordings (often abbreviated to Stabbies Etc.), as well as frequent collaborator CJA's Root Don Lonie for Cash label. Pumice's first release available outside of New Zealand was the 2004 full-length Raft, issued by California-based Last Visible Dog. After a few more limited CD-R releases on labels like Audiobot and Ultra Eczema, Pumice signed to Minneapolis-based Soft Abuse, which released the bulk of his subsequent output and greatly expanded his profile.
Pumice's debut recording for Soft Abuse was Yeahnahvienna, released in 2006. This was followed by 2007's Pebbles and 2008's Quo, both of which exhibited his sharpened songwriting skills and received critical acclaim. He spent the next few years issuing vinyl singles and EPs, including Persevere and a split 7" with Grouper (both issued by Soft Abuse in 2009), as well as a self-titled 10" for Doubtful Sounds in 2010. He returned in 2012 with PUNY, one of his most ambitious and accomplished full-lengths to date. Two mini-albums were issued on cassette in 2014 (Land and Kambrook.Rammar.Instant.Archer.), and in 2015, Italian label Planam released Poise Etc, a vinyl compilation of songs from Pumice's early cassettes. His next proper full-length, Puddles, appeared on Soft Abuse at the end of 2015. ~ Paul Simpson