Going underground: the best of Scotland's underground, DIY and self-released music scene
Featuring releases from Dip Frisco, Horse Whisperer, Fua and more
Bamya / Horse Whisperer / Dr Vzx Moist – Untitled Tape ★★★★☆
A bedroom prog extravaganza, Horse Whisperer's The Fifth Season was one of the most memorable debuts of 2016, splicing Renaissance music and pastoral psychedelia with home-brewed beats. This split tape with art-punks Bamya and 'science-fiction band' Dr VZX Moist finds Horse Whisperer, aka Borders-raised polymath Max Syed-Tollan, refining his approach via a series of short tracks recorded at Glasgow's Green Door studios. 'Def' is demented synth prog, with Syed-Tollan conducting a gallimaufry of parping Yamaha horn presets, like Ornette Coleman getting medieval on your ass. 'Chir' sees Syed-Tollan turn his hand to contemporary classical, to fascinating and eerie effect. High, lonesome string lines cross at oblique angles, strafed by resonant electronic tones and tack piano.
Dr VZX Moist contributes several quivering slabs of weirdo rock action. The warped post-punk of 'Rain' offers itchy chromatic guitar riffs over pulsing bass and expansive drums. The vocals are agreeably outré, mixing Mark E Smith's gruff English surrealism with a dash of Mary Margaret O'Hara's playful invention. 'Money Found In Tortoise Shell' finds the group cheerfully chanting and jabbering, like a barbershop quartet channelling Gilbert & Sullivan libretto and the sound poetry of Bob Cobbing. Bamya are the most accessible of the three acts, with a tuneful and energetic form of post-punk that sits somewhere between The Raincoats and The Ex. Best of all, they have Greek language vocals. A winning combination. The second side sees the three acts come together for an extended sound piece that recalls the more abstract passages on an Art Ensemble Of Chicago album, all whistles, squeaks and flubbed bass. Gradually, it's all taken over by processed vocals and rumbling electronic tones. A heady dose of Glasgow weirdness.
Dip Friso / Bapy Yun – Untitled Tape ★★★★☆
Dip Friso is the alter ego of Murray Collier, one half of Optimo Music affiliated duo Pussy Mothers. The second half of this split tape, released on Collier's Real Landscape label, features Bapy Yun, aka Nathan Quirk. Both artists offer gauzy, fractured takes on club music. Bapy Yun's dark, minimal yin to Dip Friso's funky, playful yang. Dip Friso's 'Party At The Neighbours' sounds like an 80s drum machine being sucked backwards into a dark wood, dragging dead leaves and ectoplasm. Meanwhile someone sits in front of a television, flicking between unctuous advertisements and bad sitcoms. 'Falling Forward' takes us into a vortex of dubbed out Afro-Portuguese rhythms, while 'Malted Sugar' is a slinky house excursion, all handclaps, subtle organ jabs and disaffected R&B vocals. On the flip, Bapy Yun burrows deep into lo-fi techno caverns, firing distorted snare shots and synth figures at plangent throbs of bass. 'Rituals' breaks down into sub-woofer bothering hum, before a swampy percussion fill leads us into the dank reflections of 'More Human'.
Fua – Untitled Tape ★★★★☆
Fua is the trio of Adam Campbell on guitar and electronics, Tristan Clutterbuck on electronics and Tina Krekels on alto saxophone. Criminally undersung, Krekels is one of the most inventive saxophonists around, using unconventional mouthpiece techniques and carefully placed contact mics to unearth new possibilities for the instrument. Campbell processes his guitar through a modular synth, turning rubbed and mangled strings into crumpled tones and static pops. Clutterbuck is also on modular synth, although from the weird, distorted slobber that haunts the first side, it appears there's a vocal source in there too. Rather than barge through with macho blare, Krekels cuts through it all with acerbic squawks and jagged runs. Ten minutes in and it all breaks down into alien abstraction, with Krekels' mouthpiece pops and breath effects complemented by subtle fizz, bubble and squelch. A superb first release from Fancyyyyy tapes.