Five reasons to see . . . Alasdair Roberts

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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

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