Music Language - Various venues, Glasgow, Fri 6-Sun 8 Sep 2013
Hausfrau, Trembling Bells and Golden Teacher among the music fest's highlights
In the past few years, it seemed like the annual celebration of Glasgow’s ever-diverse music scene had been well and truly plumbed but it still comes up with the goods, even if a little recycling is required. Previous years had One Ensemble and Conquering Animal Sound; this year, members of each return with solo slots on the fest's opening day. Both Anak-Anak and Daniel Padden take their respective ethos and run with them, Padden arguably winning out with a bizarrely creepy avant-garde take on wedding standard 'Agadoo', but it’s Trembling Bells that rule the opening festivities with a heady speedball of 70s psych and spirited folkisms, even if a largely unresponsive crowd don’t quite agree. (David Bowes)
The early afternoon session in vegan cafe-bar The 78 offers the rousing a capella folk of Muldoon's Picnic preceded by avuncular bass maestro Howie Reeve. Like a cross between punk hero Mike Watt and eccentric theatre legend Ken Campbell, the former Tattie Toe delights with his knotty acoustic prog-punk, diaristic lyrics and absurdist touches.
Over at SWG3, an early evening slot is perhaps not ideal for Dalhous' nocturnal ambient techno, but they create a suitably dank and spectral soundscape. To a backdrop of 1960s dancing girls, Ela Orleans constructs her otherworldly pop transmissions from samples, loops and reverb-heavy vocals. The retro-futurist sound of Stereolab and early Broadcast comes to mind, but Orleans brings a DIY pop sensibility of her own, turning Sonny & Cher's 'The Beat Goes On' into a hypnotic dream-pop gem.
Expanding on the folk-tinged avant-punk of their excellent Sycamore project, Jer Reid and Stevie Jones recruit Rafe Fitzpatrick on violin, Aby Vuliamy on viola and George Murray on trombone for an elementally beautiful set that moves fluidly between pastoral post-rock, free-wheeling string melodies and jagged rhythmic workouts. A weekend highlight.
The dada performance art of Asparagus Piss Raindrop sees members hopping on one leg while reciting bird names before moving into the crowd for some team-building exercises. An agreeably crackpot amuse bouche between musical courses.
Louie of hip-hop duo Hector Bizerk's monotonous flow doesn't lend itself to an a cappella set, but the increasingly impressive Cosmic Dead deliver with a mesmeric excursion into heavy space rock. (Stewart Smith)
A woefully brief, yet infinitely potent, set from Andrew Paine on Sunday more than makes up for the absence of Sue Thompson, his sparse pseudo-industrial textures and haunting vocal manipulations flirting with dark ambient sonics but keeping it just light enough to prepare the room for Bill Wells’ National Jazz Trio of Scotland. It’s a more eclectic performance than has been witnessed from Wells in the past, the pre-orchestrated laptop intrusions a welcome addition, though there’s enough fragility and beauty both in his measured, emotive delivery and the wounded voice of Aby Vulliamy to keep the tears a-coming.
Over in the Grand Ole Opry, Eagleowl show that their influences aren’t so much worn on their sleeves but are emblazoned across their very existence. It’s fair to say that they sound like Low but they have such a great grasp of tender, wispily nostalgic indie songwriting that you can’t really hold it against them. With the look of Nancy Sinatra and the spectral lilt of Zola Jesus, Hausfrau perhaps proves the day’s biggest surprise, her mesmerising presence offset by understated beats that only amplify her obvious strengths. The complementing personalities of Wounded Knee and Bigg Taj are almost enough to overshadow their musical presence but there is gold in their folk-hop mashups that shine brighter than anything encountered thus far. Speaking of the shiniest of metals, Golden Teacher are perhaps been the most eagerly awaited act this weekend and their festival-closing set is nothing if not satisfying. As much an echo of the wild creativity of Parliament and Hawkwind as Factory Floor’s stomping rhythms, it’s a high-energy surge of circadian chaos that brings the night to a sweaty, gleeful climax. Staggering stuff and a better finale than anyone could’ve expected. (Dave Bowes)