Optimo: The Underground Sound of Glasgow (3 stars)

Optimo: The Underground Sound of Glasgow

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

(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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