Five reasons to see . . . Alasdair Roberts
1 He was discovered performing at a ceilidh by Will Oldham. An apocryphal tale, but the pair have worked with Songs:Ohia’s Jason Molina as Amalgamated Sons of Rest, and Oldham (aka Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy) produced Roberts’ ballad collection No Earthly Man in 2005.
2 He just gets better and better. Spoils was Wire magazine’s fourth favourite album of 2009, and deservedly so: the idiosyncratic songwriting and inventive arrangements (complete with wonky electric guitars, a touch of analogue synth and the inspired drumming of Alex Neilson) show an artist on a creative roll.
3 He’ll expand your vocabulary. Using archaic language and curious allusions, Roberts evokes a world of stark beauty, religious dread and mordant humour: ‘Oh no, the ourobouros looms in the sky before us / Morphs into a foul abraxas… you think you’re gonna scare me/ With your fuckin’ taxidermy?’
4 His many intriguing collaborations. The past year has seen Roberts work with artist Luke Fowler, warm a draughty Edinburgh church hall with Icelandic pop composer Benni Hemm Hemm, and perform with early music ensemble Concerto Caledonia.
5 ‘Sterile rams and simulacra.’ Who else could turn such an inscrutable phrase into a singalong refrain? Ali can, and he does on ‘You Muses Assist’. Altogether now…
St Andrew’s In The Square, Glasgow, Fri 22 Jan