Going underground April 2020: Best of Scotland's new underground, DIY and self-released music
- Stewart Smith
- 15 April 2020
Luki / credit: Audrey Bizouerne
We take a look at a number of compilations for good causes and review releases by Cucina Povera, Soft Tissue and more
Cucina Povera – Tyyni ★★★★☆
Maria Rossi returns with her third album as Cucina Povera, swapping the Zoom recorder for a studio set-up. On Tynni, electronics largely take the place of field recordings, but the results are as spellbinding as ever. On 'Salvia Salvatrix', a synth throbs ominously behind Rossi's reflective vocal melody, dissipating into electronic birdsong. 'Anarkian Kuvajainen' lays a delicate melody over fluttering vocal loops, percussive scratching and a tambura-like drone, while 'Teerenpelli' flips the script by burying the vocals behind a trickle of dubby percussion. 'Varjokuvatanssi' is perhaps her most gorgeous offering to date, with Rossi singing over hummed harmonies, while 'Polyton Nurkka' is her club banger (of sorts), with digital chimes riffing over a solid 4/4 pulse.
soft tissue – s/t ★★★★☆
Glasgow-based artists Feronia Wennborg and Simon Weins conjure an uncanny magic on their debut cassette from the estimable Penultimate Press. Using everyday objects, pre-recorded elements and digital processing, the duo works within networks of micro amplification, obscuring the role of human intervention and taking environmental sounds down unpredictable paths. Far from being alienating, it's a fascinating, strange and curiously touching experience, in which everyday sounds – footsteps, teaspoons clinking on cups, the gurgle of water in the throat – meet the gauzy static, puttering delay trails and near subliminal synths of abstracted dub techno.
Andrew Paine – Chiron 1–4 ★★★★☆
The Domestiques – Vol. 1 ★★★★☆
An Arthur Koestler quote provides the epigraph to Andrew Paine's Chiron series: 'Creativity is all about joining the dots. But first you have to collect the dots to join.' On Chiron 1, those dots are shortwave radio and digital effects, yielding a dark, granular drone. The second instalment brings the post-apocalyptic bunker vibes, all buzzing security systems and electronic scratching, while Chiron 3 overlays radioactive guitar tones and metallic scraping with intense results. The Domestiques is Paine's new duo with Smoke Jaguar's Kevin McCarvel. While there are sonic affinities with blown-out Japanese underground rock, there's a monomaniacal lack of looseness to these fuzz guitar, synth and drum machine throbs. Play loud.
Liam Robertson – Village of Killin EP ★★★★☆
The third release from Highlands via Glasgow label Redstone Press introduces Liam Robertson, an impressive young producer of brooding techno, bass and broken beat. Influenced by Ryan Esson's photographs of Lawers Damn and the surrounding area, Robertson's tracks reflect an anti-romantic view of nature. Dubbed out percussive tendrils ripple against the cantering beats of 'Common Weaver', while 'Loxia' feeds deconstructed breaks and distorted foghorns into a bass warp. 'Wrestling Halfbeak Fighting Taxa' sets wistful vocal loops against flinty percussion, while the eerie synth effects of 'Clay Petrel' swoop over punchy machine beats.
Græd – Decibels Mix Vol. 1 ★★★★☆
The identity of this Glasgow producer remains a mystery, but his tape on Place No Blame is a heady affair, collaging performances he made using traditional ceramic percussion from Capadoccia in Turkey, trumpet and voice. Steeped in degraded tape murk, these tracks are suggestive of a darkside take on Ornette Coleman's collaborations with the Master Musicians of Joujouka, via the dubby polyrhythms of Mark Ernestus's Ndagga Rhythm Force.
Luki – The Parts / Empty Arms ★★★★☆
Following last year's tape on GLARC, this double A sided 8" single on Sonido Polifonico offers the first fruits of Luki aka Lucy Duncan's collaboration with producer Micah Rivers. Crystalline acoustic guitar and lambent synths grace 'The Parts', and detuned piano bringing a woozy blue tinge to the torch song 'Empty Arms'. Duncan's remarkable voice comes through more clearly than ever, extemporising in her upper range like an English Mary Margaret O'Hara then knocking us out with her alto.
Irma Vep – Embarrassed Landscape ★★★☆☆
Irma Vep's 'King Kong' is a suitably epic 10-minute burner, with the modal inflections of Edwin Stevens' guitar touching on Saharan rock and Turkish psych. Its locked groove recalls Leeds underground legends Vibracathedral Orchestral with dbh's violin adding a touch of Thai molam. From there, the album takes a turn into indie, psych and folk rock. 'I Do What I Want' takes Syd Barrett to 1980s New Zealand, while 'The Feeling Is Gone' nails the sound of tripped-out bikers channelling The Byrds.
Compilations and good causes
More Luki! She appears on More Womxn's MWxIWD, a great new compilation in aid of Sisters Uncut. Featuring Going Underground favourite Horse Whisperer, Solidarity Tapes Vol 1: End The Hostile Environment raises funds for grassroots migrant solidarity groups MASS Action, Project Play and All African Women's Group. Glasgow's Beth Gripps aka Caroline McKenzie contributes to Heal The People, Heal The Land a compilation and zine bundle from Scottish label A Beautiful Idea. All proceeds go to the Unist'ot'en Camp Legal Fund in their struggle against the TransCanada Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Music For Trans Rights launched with a solidarity event at Glasgow's CCA in March. The collective state, 'we're all kinds of everyone, with two things in common: we love music, and we love our trans and non-binary family. We're here to say: equality is for everyone.' They're planning a gig in the coming months, so keep an eye on their Twitter and Instagram – @musictransright – for updates.
Follow The List's Staying In is the New Going Out articles for more recommendations, alternative online events, press releases, refund policies, restaurant deliveries and further general information.