Optimo: The Underground Sound of Glasgow (3 stars)

Tracks from Golden Teacher, Auntie Flo and Debukas feature on mix compilation showcasing the city

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Optimo: The Underground Sound of Glasgow

(Glasgow Underground)

The mouth waters and the ears tingle at the thought of this, the first in a series of compilations showcasing the sound of a city by someone who knows it well. The producers have chosen well here, for they could have no more educated or able a debut tour guide than Optimo’s JD Twitch, who has a mercurial knack of finding songs that make you think, ‘what is that?’, every time a mix kicks in.

The album starts in playful style, with an intro excerpt from John Steven’s Alan Lomax-recorded ‘The Big Kilmarnock Bonnet’, a chirpy a cappella folk reel which promises ‘ye’ll meet yer match in Glesca’. Then come the soft liquid beats of Twitch’s reimagined take on Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat’s ‘Glasgow Jubilee’, a chain letter of dirty assignations and rough talk around the offices and dives of the city.

From there it turns definitively towards the dancefloor, cycling through an array of styles: the electro grind of Debukas’ ‘I Am Machinery’; the warm afro-house of Cronk Family Enterprises’ ‘Tifit Hayed’; the delicate ambience of Lord of the Isles’ ‘I Remember’. Mash’s ‘Style is the Answer’ appears, partly down to Twitch’s ear for a great vocal sample, and there are cameos from the sublime Golden Teacher (‘Love Rocket!’) and Naum Gabo (Twitch’s Optimo partner Jonnie Wilkes, with ‘Ay & Oh’).

It’s rarely a hard record, with Factory Floor’s ‘Real Love’ (the Mancunian group making a cheat appearance here by way of an Optimo remix) about as downbeat as it gets. Rather, with tracks like Auntie Flo’s ‘La Samaria’ on board, it’s a selection which has been cannily designed to represent Glasgow as a young, diverse and impossible to pigeonhole melting pot of musical styles influenced by sounds from around the world. As Twitch points out himself, ‘I'm not sure if there is a “Glasgow sound” but there is definitely a Glasgow attitude.’

Debukas 'I Am Machinery'

MASH - Style is the Answer

Golden Teacher - Love Rocket

Naum Gabo, "Ay & Oh"

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