Richard Youngs – This Is Not A Lament
- Stewart Smith
- 6 November 2017
Experimental Celtic rock from the underground legend
If your interest in Richard Youngs has been piqued by his involvement in Glasgow mutant disco supergroup AMOR, then why not dive into the underground legend's more outré side with this new double album of weirdo Celtic drone? If you're new to Youngs, then you might be best off first investigating the urban pastoral synthpop of Beyond the Valley of Ultrahits, or the beautiful echo-folk of Autumn Response, but there's no harm in throwing yourself in at the deep end.
This is Not a Lament features a host of co-conspirators, from Alasdair Roberts to Australian underground hero Oren Ambarchi, but there's a unifying quality, specifically its focus on pibroch, the extended piping form associated with the Scottish highlands. That's no more apparent than in the tracks with piper Donald WG Lindsay. On 'Kinning Park', Lindsay lays wheezing bagpipe drones against Young's processed harmonies and Roberts' wordless folk melodies, while 'Bridge of Allan' sets the pipes against shimmering synth drones and chopped-up vocals suggestive of Berlin-era Bowie at a Hebridean séance. Then there's the remarkable 'Airdrie', where Youngs' backward vocals sing into existence some alter-universe Gàidhealtachd, where the Free Church psalmists jam with the Steve Reich of 'It's Gonna Rain'.
The cycling guitar feedback of 'Constantinople' sounds like a fleet of ice-cream vans playing Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, while 'Genghis City' sets Sybren Renema's throat singing against processed organ jitters. Kiwi legends Alastair Galbraith, Reg Norris and Mick Elborado appear on the wiggy guitar and harmonium fest 'Otira George', while Ambarchi cranks up the oscillators behind the synth skirls of 'Kitazawa'. Add to this the cello and synth of the Norifumi Shimogawa collaboration 'Kilsyth', and a beautifully uncanny reunion with Simon Wickham Smith, and you have a truly radical engagement with Scottish tradition.
Out now on Fourth Dimension.