Going underground February 2020: Best of Scotland's new underground, DIY and self-released music

Going underground February 2020: Best of Scotland's new underground, DIY and self-released music

Mhenwhar Huws – Body Control

We speak to Kay Logan about the 13th Note's new noise matinee and review releases by Time Binding Ensemble, Beth Gripps and more

Underground music will always find a way, but precarious living under Tory austerity has made it increasingly difficult to sustain a practice and put on events. That's why Glasgow-based events like Tony Bevan's Help Me I'm Melting, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra's GIODynamics, Soup, Zuppa and 1.5 Months – not to mention the noise and improv nights at Henry's Cellar Bar in Edinburgh – are so important to creative communities. The latest of these is the 13th Note's noise matinee on the third Saturday of every month. Organised by Kay Logan aka Helena Celle/Outlet Archival, Find The Others offers 'an afternoon of sonic experimentation, meditative drone and glistening noise.' As Logan puts it, 'any form or organised sound is encouraged, but leaning toward the unconventional or typically undesired, ideally. Noise fits that bill.'

'It's about getting individuals with similar concerns in the same vicinity on a regular basis,' she continues, 'The calendar is a powerful tool.' By making the event a matinee, Logan hopes to attract musicians and audience members who struggle to fit weeknight shows into their schedules. She aims to make the event friendly and inclusive. 'In our case, there's no imposition of outsideness on those who abide by certain presuppositions. It's a very consensual matter. At the first event we have two artists who are entirely new to the live performance of this sort of thing.

'I hope to discourage any presuppositions of conventional merit or worth to encourage individuals to try something new. There'll be a table for anyone in attendance to bring along their own wares for trade and sale. With regards to audiences it's hard to say, but they don't have to pay in if they don't want to, and they're welcome to leave at any point. Maybe these terms will encourage people to step outside their comfort zone.'

Over the next year, Logan promises 'faces both familiar and unfamiliar'. While she's interested in local artists, she's open to anyone who is interested in performing and encourages artists to email her on outletarchival@gmail.com. As she says, 'It's all about finding the others.'

Time Binding Ensemble – Timebound Suite #1 ★★★★☆

In addition to her gig organising, Kay Logan has been quietly releasing music on her Outlet Archival Bandcamp page, from the experimental electronics of Otherworld to a Helena Celle jam with Leeds underground legend Neil Campbell. Timebound Suite #1 gathers a series of chamber music pieces recorded to Dictaphone. Strings, synth, vibraphone and flute drift in and out of a ferric fug, revealing minimalist figures and long tones. As the suite reaches its conclusion, the music becomes increasingly tense, as dissonant harmonies swell over desolate vibraphone strikes.

Ego Depletion – s/t ★★★★☆

Hair-raising clatter and drool from the Glasgow based duo of Fritz Welch and Adam Campbell, joined by guests Lucy Duncombe and Tony Bevan. Welch works with percussion, objects and voice, conjuring a mind-boggling array of out-sound around the fizz and warble of Campbell's modular synth. The performance deftly fuses the gnarly with the uncanny. Duncan's processed vocals channel cyborg jabber while Bevan contributes what might be saxophone feedback. Expertly mastered, this live recording has real presence, putting the listener in the centre of the wild and hairy action.

Beth Gripps – Mother Daughter Neither ★★★★☆

The perennially underrated Caroline McKenzie returns with a new composition under her Beth Gripps alter-ego. Coming on like a punkier Terry Riley, McKenzie overlays two electronic tracks to create a continually morphing minimalist collage. Oscillators whirl in loose, gloopy cycles, while a shimmering synth moves in and out of phase. The subtle variations in tempo and texture give the piece an invitingly woozy quality, as your ear focuses on the glimmer and burble of the lead line. The relative lack of polish also appeals: these tones have character.

Mhenwhar Huws – Body Control ★★★☆☆

The underground champions behind the Flying Duck's 1.5 Months event, Mhenwhar Huws take us into a dark and mossy world of improvised string and percussion music on this debut album. Opening piece 'Cus It's The First' reveals their method, as Rafe Fitzpatrick and John Magill layer slate-like violin and viola tones over Alastair Quietsch's almost jazz-like double bass. Jagged violin figures usher in a passage of low-end droning and scraping, with Mikey Truswell's drums subtly stoking the fire. Later tracks venture into electronically enhanced atmospherics and ragged folk song.

Sound of Yell – Leapling ★★★☆☆

Masterminded by composer and multi-instrumentalist Stevie Jones, Sound Of Yell is something of a Glasgow supergroup, featuring members of AMOR, Belle & Sebastian and Trembling Bells. Their acoustic chamber music combines alternative folk and leftfield pop elements with improvisation and modern composition. At times, Leapling could be the soundtrack to an imagined 1970s nature documentary, as wispy vocal melodies, finger-picked guitar, recorder, bass clarinet and viola flit over expansive percussion. Such a project could end up sounding too lovely, but bowed saw and viola add welcome tension and grit.

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