“There’s something about the antipodes that irritates Britain,” reckons Chills’ frontman Martin Phillipps, on the phone from Dunedin to the Guardian’s Martin Aston. Phillipps tries to explain why New Zealand’s 1980s music scene, one of the most fertile and imaginative in the world, was all but ignored in Britain. This week’s London shows by NZ folk-pop institution the Bats — their first UK trip in 15 years — wasn’t heralded by a single press notice, let alone a fanfare. Yet it’s a different story in the US. American alt.rock website Pitchfork is awash with references to New Zealand’s vintage exponents of tenacious, yearning, lo-fi-fuzzy guitar-pop, and the debt owed to them by US musicians. When anyone writes about New Zealand music, they mean Flying Nun records. In its prime, Flying Nun’s embrace of all post-punk’s manifestations — exquisite psych-pop, cantankerous quasi-goth, warped folk, experimental synth warfare — meant it was New Zealand’s Rough Trade, Factory, Postcard and Mute rolled into one. If geographical isolation was the salvation of New Zealand music, it also limited the bands’ opportunities. “Flying Nun was the sound of people not being careful, because it really didn’t matter,” says Bored Games and Straitjacket Fits frontman Shayne Carter. But there are signs of a resurgence. The Bats reformed in 2004, and their new album, The Guilty Office, is about to be released in the UK. The Clean’s new record, Mr Pop, arrives this summer. As for the Chills, they still exist and are recording their first new album in 13 years back in Dunedin.