Live Review: Lost Map's Strange Invitation, St Peter's Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 8 Sep (4 stars)

Live Review: Lost Map's Strange Invitation, St Peter's Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 8 Sep

Johnny Lynch

Pictish Trail, Free Love, Bas Jan, Eagleowl, Alabaster de Plume and more play Johnny Lynch's record label's fifth birthday party

'It's been really good fun to choose all my favourite music and force you to listen to it,' says Johnny Lynch from the stage, celebrating five years of feeding our ears as label boss and sometime gig and festival promoter of the Eigg-based Lost Map. He promises that he'll stop going on about the fifth birthday of his pet project – which came about when Lynch moved to the Small Isles following his split from the Fife-based Fence Records – but no-one here minds. His tastes and triumphs are those of his audience, and they're happy to share them with him over and over.

This event was held in St Peter's Hall in the Southside of Edinburgh, a church hall of the kind that Lost Map and Fence before it have used for events from Anstruther to Aberfeldy, and the rustic intimacy of the show was perfectly in keeping with the DIY ethos which Lynch and the Lost Map crew's events espouse; even though a renovation meant the stage was out of action which meant the bands playing on the floor were hard to see from the back of the hall. Yet even this unforeseen disruption worked in terms of huddling everyone towards the front of the hall and creating even greater intimacy than these events usually enjoy.

The 'special guest' for the day was Dan 'Withered Hand' Willson, a singer whose presence on a Lost Map stage isn't entirely unexpected, although it was very welcome. The line-up demonstrated the sonic breadth and quality of the label's signees, friends and collaborators over the past half-decade, including Victoria Hume, the baroque pop of Alabaster de Plume, the revived folk-rock beauty of eagleowl and the discordant, minimalist art-rock of Bas Jan.

Lynch's own Pictish Trail alias was represented, of course, showing off his own versatility with the dreamy 'I Don't Know Where to Begin', the space-disco of Silver Columns' 'Columns' and 'Dead Connection''s weird, irresistible avant-pop. The undoubted attention-grabbers of the day, however, were Free Love, the recently rebranded Happy Meals, whose incessant, club-friendly house beats were set off by Suzanne Rodden's stunning performance, strutting through the crowd and leaping onto the speaker stacks. Who needed a stage, anyway?

Lost Map's Strange Invitation 5th Birthday All-Dayer was at St Peter's Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 8 Sep.

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