Establishing the post-punk and independent scenes in New Zealand, Tall Dwarfs were arguably the first of indie rock's pioneers to take part in the home taping phenomenon. The styles and techniques of the creative collaboration of Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate have constantly changed since the Tall Dwarfs' inception in the early '80s, but experimentation has always been of first and foremost importance for them. After releasing a series of records on New Zealand's Flying Nun imprint, Knox and Bathgate began to take separate career routes but reunited for special occasions such as the compiling and recording of their 1997 release Stumpy. The record, released almost 20 years after their basement rock beginnings, was based on the idea that home tapers from around the globe would record bits and pieces of songs, send them to Knox and Bathgate, and the Dwarfs would then make songs from the basic structures of what they received. The result is an astoundingly fluid document of lo-fi weirdness, with its hand in every imaginable genre of music from folk to blues to punk to quirky out-rock to chamber pop. Of the 22 tracks, only a handful break the two-minute mark, so it is fair to assume that the Dwarfs did little in the way of adding much length to any of the pieces. The bulk of their toil was in the compiling and recording stages of the production. Strangely, there is very little clutter on the album and the flow of eclecticism runs extremely smoothly. More musicians should consider these concepts for future releases. A brilliant and successful undertaking.
AllMusic Review by Ken Taylor