El Hombre Trajeado – Fast Diagonal
Like a kind of Scots supergroup in reverse, Glasgow's El Hombre Trajeado (it means 'The Man in the Suit' in Spanish) have become more well-known since they split in 2005, and are probably more familiar for their individual projects these days; while Stef Sinclair and Ben Jones stepped away from music, Stevie Jones played with Arab Strap and later originated his own Sound of Yell project with Chemikal Underground, while guitarist RM Hubbert is a mainstay of the Scottish scene with a Scottish Album of the Year Award and a prolific second career as Glasgow's 'flamenco punk' special guest guitarist of choice in the bag.
Fast Diagonal is the band's fourth album (after 1999's Skipafone, 2001's Saccade and 2004's Shlap), and their first on both Hubbert and Jones' parent label Chemikal Underground, having reformed for a one-off gig in 2014 as part of the imprint's East End Social festival. It's a record which feeds into the heart of Glasgow's underground with a number of guest appearances; Ela Orleans' backing vocals provide soft and tuneful enhancement on 'Darkest Sea' and 'Above & Below'; Life Without Buildings' Sue Tompkins spits a spiky, Ari Up-style indie-punk holler on 'Do It Puritan!'; James Orr Complex's Chris Mack lends his voice to the careening drone of 'Hearing Those Ears' and the shuffling indie shanty 'Bare Bone Scree'.
It's a record which feels at once of the band's former time, foregoing the familiar flamenco style of Hubbert's playing for the spiky, angular understatement of post-rock era Glasgow. Yet these are clearly players whose skills complement and enhance each other, so much so that they can get away with dropping in a few instrumentals like 'Drumlin', 'Half Cab' and the closing 'Nettles', whose style might most accurately be described as a jazz-influenced form of grunge. It might be picky to suggest that a few more guest vocals may have taken the proggy edge off these instrumentals, but the singular El Hombre sound is one it's very welcome to hear once more.
Fast Diagonal is out on Fri 2 Dec on Chemikal Underground.