Album reviews: Constant Follower, Mood Taeg, The Wendys, Loup Havenith
Constant Follower -
Talk about getting off to a slow start. But that is precisely what this Stirling-based quartet do.
Lead single ‘I Can’t Wake You’ barely makes it out of the traps, a sleepy, beautifully-paced piece of slowcore – a genre defined by Minnesotan duo Low (ironically as that act have just taken a wildly and noisy distorted turn).
‘Merry Dancers on TV’ is a positive riot by comparison, dreamy slide guitar and nicely blended vocals from frontman McAll and Amy Campbell.
Largely a brooding instrumental, ‘Altona’ takes all the elements of what’s gone before, with a whispered “It’s ok, its alright”.
Hard to define, there’s the feel of folk legend’s Bert Jansch’s fingerstyle guitar on ‘Weave Of The World’, but closing track ‘Weicha’ offers a beautiful, timeless headphone moment to wind down an already chilled collection.
Loup Havenith - Big!
Jacques Brel aside, Belgium may not have provided many worldwide stars for its young musicians to aspire to.
However, a move to Glasgow and its burgeoning indie scene may have been just the spur this 22-year-old singer-songwriter required.
Over a short and bittersweet seven tracks Havenith adeptly unpicks relationships and tackles depression and self-affirmation over a wide-ranging sonic palette.
Having begun as introspective four-track home recordings, 'Big!' has been transformed with a full-band sound, before being given a final sheen by production legend Kramer.
The result is a set of pop nuggets in the vein of Elliot Smith or Happyness, and could see Havenith’s adopted home reluctant to give him up any time soon.
The Wendys - Gobbledygook
It’s been hard to avoid the chatter about the 30th Anniversary of Nirvana’s landmark grunge album ‘Nevermind’, but lower-key and rather closer to home is the re-release of debut from this Edinburgh-based quartet.
The band followed The Wake as the second Scottish act to sign to Factory Records, thanks to Shaun Ryder’s dad Derek when they supported his son’s act in their home city. However, the album‘s release coincided with their label’s financial problems caused in part by the Happy Mondays.
Produced by Lightning Seed Ian Broudie, the 11 tracks capture the era perfectly - the choppy guitar recalls the baggy scene of the time, while there’s a Creation Records jangle to ‘Pulling My Fingers Off’, and the pounding bass on the title track and ‘Suckling’ offers a C86 throwback.
’Half Pie’ evokes fellow Factory alumni James while ‘I Feel Lovely’ mixes the Mondays’ sound with a shoegazey feel.
Still sounding fresh today despite its years, this is a 90s time capsule well worth opening up.
Mood Taeg - Anaphora
“We are always more important than the machines we invent,” intones a voice on ‘Diskonkordanz’, perhaps summing up this second release from this Düsseldorf / Shanghai-based duo, who operate synths, sequencers and samplers to great effect.
Very much in thrall to the German electronic groups of the 70s and 80s, ‘Pilomotor Reflex’ takes already futuristic Kraftwerk-style keyboard lines and updates them with glitchy beats and chattering background voices.
Meanwhile, ‘Squirrels Dancing Among Elephants’ (all the titles are incomprehensible, whether in English or not) has the motorik krautrock rhythm expected but unlike their debut album includes vocals in the form of atmospheric spoken word samples.
‘Samfundssind’ would do well soundtracking a sci-fi series, while the band save best till last; ‘Happiness Fragment’, a seven-minute frenzy of swirling, otherworldly sounds.