It’s just been announced that Conquering Animal Sound have signed to Chemikal Underground and will release their second record ‘On Floating Bodies’ through them early next year. Equally brilliant news is Gizeh’s announcement that debut record ‘Kammerspiel’ will be released on vinyl sometime next year. Awesome. Such an amazing debut record and worthy of all the praise it has received in the past year and a half, including a nomination for the SAY award eventually won by Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells.
From the very first moment I heard CAS I have thought they were amazing and I hope that this move brings them even more success. I personally cannot wait to hear what they offer up on record number two.
I always find it funny that we humans often fail to see what is right in front of us. We will sit on google maps and marvel at the wonder of Paris, Rome, New York, longing to visit these places and take in the wondrous sites and sounds. And yet, we don’t really notice the place that we live in ourselves. For me, Edinburgh is a simply stunning place to live in the visual sense. Everything about it screams “look at me” and yet, too often, we walk with our eyes down, our minds elsewhere and forget to observe the beauty that surrounds us.
Graveyards probably are not the place many people look for true beauty but American Robert Reinhardt has managed to capture the graveyards of Edinburgh since 2000 and an exhibition of his work will go on display in Edinburgh Central Library during the month of August. You should check out a sample of what will be on offer here but should definitely get along and have a look if you are interested in this city. It’s a wonderful place worth exploring as there really is beauty even in the most obscure places. All you have to do is use your eyes.
Last week I received a parcel in the post from Graveyard Tapes record label Lost Tribe Sound. It was full of music from the label’s catalogue and it made my week. Been ages since I was able to afford physical music so was so nice to receive a package full of vinyl and cds. So far I have managed to get through Cock and Swan’s album ‘Stash’ and Pollution Salute’s ‘Neon’. Both are excellent and have made me very happy to be on a label as refreshing and exciting as Lost Tribe who clearly like to push the boundaries, releasing music by artists who stray from the conventional and push themselves to create something quite unique. Music that stands out from the crowd. If you have never heard of Lost Tribe Sound then I suggest you go here and check out their catalogue because it is packed with great music by musicians who are keen to push the bar creatively.
Musically, things are starting to kick off. First up is the great news that Graveyard Tapes, the project I have been working on for the past 2 years with my friend Matthew Collings will be releasing our debut album ‘Our Sound is Our Wound’ through the lovely folks at Lost Tribe Sound in early 2013. We are delighted to have been offered the chance to add our name to their brilliant roster and look forward to the album finally being released. It’s a slow process creating a record and then finding a label to release that record can be even slower, so we feel pretty lucky to have found a label who have been so enthusiastic about the record and what we do. For those who have never sampled our music you can find an early version of one of the album tracks here.
Under my guise as glacis I am super busy. I have just finished an animation piece for the artist Jamie Mills. Entitled entitled ‘Tohu Va Vohu’, the animation explores the idea that the world is made up of chaotic, cyclical patterns and structures and the kind of effects that can be had if human beings forget that they are made from the same formations. Two distinct pieces have been produced to accompany the animation to engage the viewer and gauge how the experience of the animation changes as the music does. There are 2 pieces specifically written for the animation itself and then another 2 to tie the thing together as a small ep. The whole thing DVD/CD/Booklet will be released on mini50 at some point, probably 2013.
I have also begun work on a collaboration with Ed Hamilton which we are hoping will be released on Hibernate, as part of their collaboration postcard series, sometime this year. So far this has been an awesome experience. Ed is an extremely talented sound artist and our styles and approaches seem to work very well together.
2 glacis albums are also under way. One is titled ‘As Long as Water Flows’ and is specifically for a record label who requested it. The other is something I’ve been working on for a wee while and will feature new pieces as well as some older pieces. It will be the first full length glacis record and will hopefully be out sometime next year.
Then there is The Kays Lavelle. Work on the second album is ongoing and is a process. I have no real timescales for this one. Just putting tracks together as and when I can and so far so good really. Hopefully be finished by early 2013 but then securing a release and all the work involved in that may mean it doesn’t see the light of day until mid to late 2013/early 2014. We shall see I suppose.
And then there is mini50. We are delighted to announce the release of Hiva Oa’s debut album ‘The Awkward Hello, Handshake, Kiss’ on 7 September 2012. This record is going to be released in a very special format and there will be a limited run of the debut EP made, in postcard format, for the lucky people who pre-order the record quickly enough. The album really is stunning and we are excited to continue our relationship with the band after the success of ‘Future Nostalgia for sale’. An album launch night will follow the release of the record. This is pencilled in for 22 September but do keep an eye out for more details either here or here.
Fraser McGowan is one of my dearest friends. His life story has been far from easy but the message to me has always been clear. ‘Bad things happen. Stuff falls apart. But you can find the inner strength to keep believing in yourself and to keep working towards making things good and putting things back together.’ These are not his words but when you listen to his music it is abundantly clear that this is a man who has known hard times, has known grief and yet, through it all, has kept going, working quietly on his music without much recognition, firmly believing that the human spirit can overcome anything and good things do come to those who wait.
His musical backstory starts with Small Town Boredom. An ep released on Keep Recordings – the same record label that discovered/launched one Josh Tillman’s musical career. From there ‘Autumn Might Have Hope’ was born. A beautiful record filled with pain and torment, written at a time of real separation from the world around. Everything about it is poignantly sad. It is of a time and place and very personal and specific to the author himself. The world Fraser existed in at that time was one that seemed to have no means of escape consuming his very existence and the man he is today. Clean of the substances that created ‘Autumn’, Fraser then set about writing what would become follow up record ‘Notes from the Infirmary’. Without the comfort blanket of alcohol to guide his musings ‘Notes’ was a very difficult record for Fraser to write and yet what was created was something much more complete and accomplished than the debut dispelling the belief that to create he needed to be in a very different place. Perfect in length and tone the record is packed with beauty and clarity. ‘Void Lighting’ remains, to this day, one of my all time favourite tracks. If you don’t get goose bumps as Fraser whispers ‘I’d trade, my secret life with ghosts, just to hear you breathing’, an ode to his newborn son Ewan, then you really don’t appreciate true musical genius and might just be a little dead inside.
Soon after ‘Notes from the Infirmary’ Small Town Boredom were laid to rest. Fraser had been experimenting as a solo artist for a while and an EP was being developed under the name Caught in the Wake Forever. This ep, I am proud to say, was released on my own label mini50 last year and is simply fantastic. Featuring 5 original instrumental pieces and 5 remixes by the likes of Library Tapes, Matthew Collings and Fieldhead, it is a record of real beauty and the perfect introduction to what is to be released on Hibernate Recordings in July this year.
‘Against a Simple Wooden Cross’ is stunning. When I first heard tracks from the record I was shocked to hear Fraser’s vocal s reintroduced to the subtle textures he had made his own on his debut solo ep. But be sure of one thing, this is not a new Small Town Boredom record. No, this is the perfect combination of what made Small Town Boredom so special and the potential shown on that first Caught in the Wake Forever EP. It’s an unravelling of one mans psyche and it’s a testament to the fact that the human mind is strong enough to overcome even the most desperate of situations. Not only does this record stand as Fraser’s finest work to date but the very fact that it is to be released on a label as well respected as Hibernate is testament to what I’ve always believed; Fraser McGowan is a special musician. And a massive credit has to go to Jonathan at Hibernate for being brave enough to release a record featuring so many vocals when his label has been built on music predominantly lacking in words. There is no gamble with this record though. It is intelligently crafted and subtly produced. It is rich with texture and packed with emotion. It is a true work of brilliance and it really does deserve to get attention. It already has received a glowing endorsement from Fluid Radio which you can read here. The only thing that bugs me about it is that it’s been released on Hibernate and not mini50 and yet, that is undoubtedly a great decision on Fraser’s part. H e knows he always has a home at mini50 but I’d be lying if I said I wanted him to have to release on mini50 ever again. I really hope that this record helps propel him to bigger and better things, as it should.
If you have never heard of Caught in the Wake Forever then you should make purchasing this album and his debut ep a priority. Then work back to Small Town Boredom and discover one ofScotland’s most under rated and undervalued musicians. Fortunately he’s not constrained by being Scottish and this record really should get him out to the wider world. A truly remarkable work by a truly remarkable person.