Monday, 25 October 2010

Opening night at Hidden Door 2

Hidden Door 2

Photos: Su Anderson

Roxy Art House, Edinburgh
Friday 22 October 2010

When art and music collide the most satisfying results often come from the unexpected. In January this year, Edinburgh’s Hidden Door festival threw up one of the most surprising cultural clashes; juxtaposing a labyrinth-like art installation against the craggy sounds of the city’s alternative music scene. So successful was the arts-based soirée, it’s made its return less than a year later.

Now a three-day marathon of sights and sounds, the opening night of Hidden Door 2 is a curious fusion of art connoisseurs, booze hounds, scraggy beards and high-heeled shoes. It’s this capacity to cater for the entire socio-cultural strata that’s the festival’s unique selling point; bringing people together its raison d’être.

The Foundling WheelThe multi-stage installation in the Roxy’s main hall is a fascinating construction of rigidity and abstraction, a perfect setting for Sunday night’s five-band collaboration. As a space for music it’s almost claustrophobic and the deafening math rock of Glasgow trio Tokamak blitzkreiging from stage four only heightens this state of enclosure.

The seamless switch to stage five for Lipsync for a Lullaby segues into a swell of instrumentation that rings out like a tenderised Hawk and a Hacksaw. From here The Foundling Wheel (pictured, right) brings a serrated edge to the evening. Jack-knifing rancorous circuit board effects against an undercurrent of melody, this bombastic one-man show ends with the first visible sign of hipsters dancing.

Down in the umbrella decorated basement lurks the pious testifying of John Knox Sex Club. The Glasgow sextet are on boisterous form, rampaging their way through a set charred with ragged wind-battered cuts that’s as persuasive as frontman Sean Cumming’s on (and quite often off) stage preaching. It’s powerful, demented stuff that’s as visually arresting as the art hanging on the walls.

Back in the main hall a drummer-less American Men are MacBooking their way through an ambient sprawl of down-tempo electronica. Lacking any real bite, the trio are a little off colour so Radar makes its way to the indoor garden for a final spot of serenity. Devoid of piss, pills or plastered neds, our grassy patch is a calming sanctuary unheard of in traditional festivals. It may not be music and it may not be art, but you know what? That’s probably the point.

Art at Hidden Door 2
[Visual art is integral to Hidden Door]

The John Knox Sex Club
[The John Knox Sex Club]

The John Knox Sex Club
[The John Knox Sex Club]

The John Knox Sex Club
[American Men]

Sunday, 24 October 2010

10 Glasgow bands to keep an eye on...

Despite playing home to a disproportionate wealth of top-drawer acts over the past decade, Glasgow’s conveyor belt of music shows no sign of slowing. So, as a quick rundown of some of the best music coming out of from the city’s streets, I’ve put together ten of my favourite new Glasgow acts for you to wrap your lugs around...

Dam Mantle

Tom Marshallsay, aka Dam Mantle, is at the fulcrum of Glasgow’s thriving experimental scene at the moment. Armed with a swathe of coruscating beats and illuminating effects, the Kent-bred bedroom producer is the conduit between the city’s indie-cool hipsters and nocturnal noise mongers. Already receiving justifiable exposure in the UK’s more on-the-pulse publications (including these very pages), the intricacies of Marshallsay’s origami-styled electronica is as beguiling as it is pulsating. Mark our words, Dam Mantle is an electro hero in the making.


In full atomic flow, DIVORCE are always an ear-bleeding proposition. The Optimo-signed quintet’s gut-spilling punk may not have transferred verbatim to last year’s debut EP, but it still stabbed harder than a buckfast slurpin’ ned round the back of your local 24hr Tesco. Central to the band’s appeal is the demonic growl of Sinead Youth; a prowling, possessed figure who possesses one of the city’s most unique, spine-chilling barks. Backed by a thunderous clatter of guitar and drum, DIVORCE boast a serrated edge that’s unrivalled by anyone on the Scottish live circuit.

Mitchell Museum

Mitchell Museum’s (literally) gas-canister fuelled early shows often trembled on the precipice between maniacal brilliance and idiotic annoyance. But this year’s debut LP, Peters Post Memorial Service, changed all that; perfectly capturing the quartet’s unhinged disposition while showing a tuneful backbone that finally hollowed out the over-indulgence of old. The Glasgow quartet’s wonky, submerged melodies may still ring out like Flaming Lips’ Haribo-guzzling rugrats, but a new found snarl to their sound suggests this is a band on its way through an upward trajectory.


If it seems like Glasgow’s awash with textured, glitch-friendly soundscapes at the moment that’s because, well, it pretty much is. In a similar, if not identical, vein to Dam Mantle, the mutated beats and patchwork 8-bit electronics of Rickie McNeill (otherwise known as F*X G*T D*TA or the easier to pronounce Fox Gut Daata) are beginning to percolate the nation’s airwaves. Often pounding out like funk friendly hip-hop played through a Gameboy, McNeill’s hot-stepping compositions combine effects board wizardry with a knack for dance-floor friendly tuneage. Fox Gut Daata may not produce the most mainstream friendly cuts you’ll hear this year, but they’ll almost certainly be the most inventive.

French Wives

Tagged as Glasgow’s latest bastions of jangle-friendly pop, French Wives have a lot to live up to in a city steeped in melody making tradition. Fortunately, the fledgling quartet possess an artillery that more than justifies the swooning adjectives gushing their way from local press quarters. Infectious of sound and purposeful in delivery, May’s resplendent single 'Me Vs Me' is a charging, dance floor friendly throng of instrument that subtly tips its hat to luminaries like Orange Juice and Franz without riding their coattails. Every inch their own band, it’s this headstrong sense of sonic identity that’s become French Wives’ greatest strength.

Jacob Yates & the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers

Better known as the frontman of deceased ghoul-rockers Uncle John & Whitelock, Jacob Love is reigniting his bone-shivering brand of sludging rockabilly. With only a few gigs under their belts the embryonic sextet are still finding their feet live, but early cuts 'Merry Hell' and 'South of Heaven' promise much; blistering the ear sockets like white hot pokers spawned in the debauched heart of a Maryhill council estate. Tinged with the street preaching madness of an early years Nick Cave, Love’s gritted storytelling and red raw delivery is truly one of the city’s most exhilarating thrills.

John Knox Sex Club

As creators of wild-eyed cuts that could blow the roof off an airtight presidential bunker, John Knox Sex never stray far from Twilight Sad comparisons. But the quintet’s delicately coined psalms probably owe more to Mogwai’s rousing undulations than the post rocking throb of James Graham’s troupe. With a rasp that knows its way around the west coast brogue, frontman Sean Cumming’s delivery on debut album Blud Rin Cauld ranks one of the year’s most accomplished vocal performances; flickering effortlessly between contemplative bard and boisterous town-crier. And with a stream of rich, arable instrumentation running fluidly underneath, John Knox Sex Club seem destined to be the next doom-harbouring act to burst from the city.

Miaoux Miaoux

Another southerner making a splash in Glasgow’s underground is unsigned indie-tronica foreman Julian Corrie and his Miaoux Miaoux solo project. As a locally renowned producer who’s already worked with a slew of upcoming Scottish artists, Corrie’s own esoteric adventure is finally beginning to bear fruit. By mixing ambient, nocturnal grooves with his understated intone, the nest-flying Londoner produces a textured and soulful blend of transient electro-bent pop. And his creativity doesn’t stop at the effects board; the sleeve of Miaoux Mioux’s illuminating last single ‘Knitted’ was lovingly crafted by the needles of a Maggie’s Cancer knitting group. A melody maker with a conscience – what isn’t there to like?

Over The Wall

Over The Wall are far removed from the archetypal Glasgow indie band. For one thing, there’s only two of them, but where other blatant wannabes pilfer from the nest of Franz and Belle & Sebastian, this trumpet-blasting duo seem determined to furrow their own, unique pathway – which this year included a sound-tracking a theatre show in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Their live outings are hyperactive, almost uncontrollable, events that fuse hook-spilling pop with exuberant showman patter. Blushing to key-chiming stomps and tear-stained laments, the band’s debut LP, Treacherous, drops this month and should finally push the pairing into the limelight.

She’s Hit

So relentless is the slew of hyperbolic adjectives shat out by Scottish bloggers these days, most tips for the top need to be consumed alongside a shovel of sodium chloride. But with visceral quartet She’s Hit the purple prose spouting posse have definitely hit the button. A spewing throb of clanging guitar and bombastic percussion, their nasal art-punk endeavours sneer out like The Fall sodomising The Cramps at their most ragged. Still wet behind the ears, they’re only one split single (halved with Jacob Yates’ Pearly Gates outfit) into their fledgling career but, given the strength of their blistering live outings, She’s Hit will outlast the blogosphere’s hype.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Drunk & Dirty - What makes Glasgow the UK's most exciting music scene?

On the face of it, Glasgow isn’t a natural cultural epicentre. Renowned for its hard drinking locals, the city’s roots are entrenched in the staunch Labour supporting shipyards of the Clyde and the part-football, part-religious tensions of the Old Firm. Historically it’s always been a tough town, for tough people – not a breeding ground for those with innovative intentions.

Despite (or perhaps in spite of) this hardened appearance, Scotland’s biggest city is also its most creatively blessed. With talent washing through the pores of its ten constituencies, Glasgow’s tradition in the arts is well celebrated; being honoured European Capital of Culture back in 1990 is still bellowed about proudly by many a staunch local.

Since the late 70s, music’s played an increasing part in solidifying the city’s reputation as a hive of ingenuity. It all started with Alan Horne’s lauded Postcard Records – an aggressive DIY label which for a short time flew ‘the sound of young Scotland’ flag for Edwyn Collin’s fledgling Orange Juice and new-wave poppers Aztec Camera, as well as Edinburgh post-punks Josef K. And from there, Glasgow’s musical conveyor belt just kept on running.

In the 80s The Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, The Vaselines, BMX Bandits, Teenage Fanclub and The Pastels all gestated in the bowels of city’s underbelly. The next decade showed no sign of let up; Chemikal Underground was born and The Delgados, Belle & Sebastian, Bis, Mogwai, and Arab Strap (although originally from Falkirk) made their way to the forefront of the Scottish music scene.

In the ten years since Drowned in Sound’s birth, the city has continued to reel out bands: Franz Ferdinand, Aereogramme, The Twilight Sad, Life Without Buildings, Camera Obscura, Danananackroyd, Errors, Glasvegas... you get the picture. Even right now, the city feels like a never ending well of sound. As the cliché goes, there really must be something in the water.

So, where does it come from? Well, it’s a prickly question that’s practically impossible to answer. Honing in on one specific element, or combination of elements, risks overlooking the tapestry of factors – economics, culture, venues, labels, promoters, bands, appetite of gig goers – that have been stitched together to form a burgeoning subculture over the last thirty years.

“It sounds stock but Glasgow is a boring city to live in for most of the year,” says Errors’ Simon Ward, wrestling with his own thoughts on the city’s rich musical lineage. “The weather is crap, so making music is just something to do. There is still a well established DIY community in place, although I think this has fluctuated in its strength over the years.”

One notable aspect of Glasgow’s music community is its strength in numbers. But these aren’t bands working under a united banner, hoping that one of them makes it so the rest can jet-stream alongside. This is a varied, almost antithetical mesh of artists plying their trade in shared spaces while creating widely differing music.

“There are lots of scenes in Glasgow, but this is because a lot of people live here,” explains Ward. “I think the geography of the city has a lot to answer for. The city centre area feels small and compact and since this is where almost all the venues, pubs and clubs are it becomes inevitable that bands and artists from different scenes will meet and form new bands.”

Geography aside, Glasgow has a number of edges that leverage it above other Scottish cities. Venue-wise, it offers bands almost as many floors to play as Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen put together. And with the heart of the Scottish media rooted in the city, it’s only natural the gaze of the musically inclined is drawn there. But Glasgow’s biggest plus lies in the singular attitude of those involved in all quarters of its multiple music scenes.

“Glasgow has an enthusiasm for music; it’s what draws a lot of people here and, when all goes well, you can expect a fervent and expressive audience,” explains Camera Obscura’s Carey Lander. “It’s more resistant to pretentiousness than many cities. It has a different sense of cool and seems less distracted by musical fads... it continues to hold its own and remain important to people from all over the world. I’m proud to live in a place that is a point of musical pilgrimage for lots of people.”

Not so long ago, a young Aidan Moffat would regularly make the 20 mile trek from Falkirk to further his musical learning in the city's cavernous venues. And after Arab Strap signed for Chemikal Underground, making their live debut at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, he quickly cast anchor.

“I was always drawn to Glasgow: it’s the only real choice for musicians outside the city itself. If you’re in a Scottish band, you probably want to move to Glasgow,” Moffat reasons. “I’m not sure that I ever saw playing in Glasgow as a measure of success, but I had absolutely no desire to play in Falkirk, there just wasn’t an audience for what [Arab Strap] wanted to do.”

Arab Strap’s migration west is a familiar journey for many Scottish bands born outside the city’s inner-ring. In an increasingly globalised industry, it’s difficult enough being heard above the cattle market rabble of PR spiel. To ignore Glasgow’s calling, with its hub of media, labels and audiences, is pure suicide.

Scott Hutchinson, frontman of Selkirk outfit Frightened Rabbit, explains the city’s pull: “Growing up in a small town in Scotland, I always associated Glasgow with music, and not simply Scottish music. It's where I had almost all of my contact with live bands until I began touring. It's almost mythological when you come from somewhere like Selkirk and, as such it, seemed natural to go there to start the creative process. I still find it one of the most exciting cities in the world.”

One band that escaped Glasgow’s clutches is The Twilight Sad. Scooped up by Brighton’s Fat Cat label after just three gigs in the city, the Kilsyth-born band were shipped out to America to cut their teeth in unfamiliar climes. But, as singer James Graham puts it, the band are still heavily influenced by the city.

“I don't know exactly how big an impact [Glasgow] has had but I know that without [Mogwai, Arab Strap and The Delgados] I wouldn't be doing this,” Graham explains. “We've been lucky in that we've been able to work with and become friends with those bands and they've helped us and supported our band over the years by giving advice, working on our records with us, getting us pished and taking the pish out of us.”

This guiding hand from Glasgow’s old guard is a story you’ll hear time and time again from the city’s young pups. There’s no sense of personal protectionism amongst its musicians; just a desire to make music, and make it well. It’s the perfect blueprint for sustained success.

Where the city sits amidst musical heartbeats like LA, Seattle, London or Portland is difficult to gauge. Even its most renowned bands have little of the commercial appeal it takes to front the pages of magazines racked around the world. But given its population (just over 500,000), the number of globally approved acts it’s turned out in recent times is, frankly, staggering.

“Glasgow, and Scotland as a whole, has always made a disproportionate contribution to culture for a country of its size, we seem to be a very small but very creative nation,” says Aidan Moffat. “I think there’s an air of authenticity about Glasgow that London sometimes struggles to find. A lot of music down there is very London-centric and just doesn’t really translate to anywhere outside the M25, whereas us lot from up North tend to look at, and aim for, the bigger picture.”

So with their impenetrable west-coast brogues and utter lack of pretension, why do Glasgow bands resonate so readily with people around the globe?

“They’re a bit drunk and haven’t washed?” ponders Moffat. “I really don’t know – only an outsider can answer that.”

First published here

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

In retrospect: Uncle John and Whitelock

Thinking back, Uncle John & Whitelock (UJ&W) were never really meant to last. Born in the belly of the Glasgow art scene, the combustible quintet were a torrential storm in Central Belt’s teacup, seeing through just one LP, the bleakly titled There Is Nothing Else, before fizzling out at the end of 2006. If it sounds like an ineffective defeat, that’s because in many ways it was; UJ&W’s ragged, horror-rock wailing played out like Birthday Party in a deep south cotton field, yet never found faith outside the M8.

But for those of us who stood jaws agape in the wake of their rafter rattling live shows, where heart pounding zombie-blues bludgeoned against the rolling hillbilly drawl of Jacob Yates, UJ&W’s blood spilling corpse still haunts the memory. I’ve a friend who still swears they’re the most exhilarating band Scotland’s ever produced. Fankly, it’s almost impossible to disagree – there really was nothing quite like them. That UJ&W remain so unknown outside Scotland is moot; they were, and always will be, a band with more important things in mind.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

INTERVIEW: Seven Saturdays

Seven Saturdays

The bond between Scotland and the USA stretches back over 300 years, when scores of tartan-clad immigrants braved the Atlantic in search of a better life. Since then, our Western cousins have enthusiastically tightened this ancestral knot; retreading and rejoicing the steps of their lineage while almost singlehandedly fuelling our tourist industry.

Curiously, Jonathan D. Haskell, the man behind swooning Los Angeles outfit Seven Saturdays, has no Celtic heritage to call upon; no tales of family fortune at immigration doors to tell. Instead, Haskell’s Scottish love affair evolved from a schoolboy’s need to know about our favourite mythical beast:

“I remember in elementary school having to do a ‘country report’ and, of all the places in the world, I chose to do mine on Scotland,” explains Haskell. “I'm sure at the time I just wanted to read about the Loch Ness Monster and maybe bulk up my report with various illustrations on the creature, but that overarching interest never really faded.”

A move from the Hollywood Hills to Edinburgh in 2006 helped Haskell clear his head following the breakup of his former band, Angeles Drake. Describing Auld Reekie as his “dream place”, Haskell discovered sanctuary in the city’s historic ambience where his creative sensibilities were amplified by the sights and sounds around him.

“[In Edinburgh] I was basically doing nothing but walking and exploring everywhere, and drinking of course, but I began to get excited again about doing something musically. I actually started writing songs again, with vocals and words,” he says. “But when my money ran out and I returned to LA, that sinking feeling of dread returned. I simply couldn't jump back into the LA music scene as just another shitty, unoriginal band.”

Fed by a fear of stagnation, Haskell focused his newly-inspired energies on a solo project, Seven Saturdays. The expansive instrumental symphonies he was producing were a significant step away from Angeles Drake’s Coldplay-infused rock. Unsurprisingly, this gigantic stride into the unknown was accompanied by bouts of self-doubt.

“When I played the demos for my girlfriend when the whole project was taking shape, I remember asking her if she thought anybody would be into a band based around the Fender Rhodes and acoustic drums.” he recalls. “She and I agreed that it would most likely be a self indulgent flop."

Rather than flop, Seven Saturdays has high-jumped Haskell into the spotlight. Evoking gushing adjectives from the likes of Stereogum and Drowned in Sound, his eponymously titled debut EP has drawn comparisons with French relaxants Air and Brian Eno’s more ambient dalliances. It’s just the kind of spur Haskell’s confidence needed:

“Critical praise of sorts is validation of years spent working at this - I would be lying to tell you that I didn't care at all,” he confesses. “The good reviews last in my head for a few hours, and then I'm back online working, booking, promoting. It's just one part of the machine that tells me I must be doing something right."

Freely admitting he has no interest in pursuing glossy pop aesthetics, Haskell’s eyes are fixed on musical fulfilment. Yet, the subtle film noir nuances and cinematic lens of his work discloses a hankering for more optical stimulation.

“Visuals, film and lighting all play a big part in the live show,” says Haskell. “To me they're equally as important as the music because I'm trying to create a sensory experience for the audience. I want the audience to feel like they're in the middle of a globe encompassed by amorous noise and moving images. Like audio suffocation.”

This claustrophobia is a fundamental plotline in Haskell’s wordless compositions. Seven Saturdays is undoubtedly music for the urban recluse. It’s the sound of someone ill-fitted to the bustle of inner city life; ablaze with antipathy towards its monolithic skylines and congested pavements. But somewhere along the line, Haskell has made sense of his surroundings.

“LA is like a vacuum. It sucks you in and grips tightly, making everything and everywhere else seem unimportant,” he says. “It's very hard to leave. But once you do, you notice a renewed sense of peace immediately. But again, musically, I have really found my place in Los Angeles. Somehow the harsher this place is for me, the more I put into my music. I guess I like making pretty sounds in such chaos.”

Eyeing up a UK tour within the next 12 months, Haskell is looking forward to making a return to the place he calls home. It may have been four years since he last stepped on Scottish soil, but one memory keeps the country fresh in his mind: “The unmistakably miserable weather,” he deadpans. “God, I love that.”

Live Review: Enfant Bastard, The Leg, Bit Face, Wounded Knee @ Roxy Art House, 2 October

Enfant Bastard

The Roxy’s underground cavern is the perfect setting for an Enfant Bastard EP launch. Decked out like an amphetamine freak’s rave pit, the poker hot lighting seared against the room’s blackened curtains gives tonight a distinctly claustrophobic, almost suffocating, edge.

Before Enfant makes his entrance there’s a notable undercard of experimental dignitaries to rouse the incumbents of this increasingly space-less venue. First up is enigmatic throatsmith Wounded Knee, otherwise known as Drew Wright, with his gut-born brand of loop pedalled a capella .

With a sound that’s impossible to pin down, Wright tongues his way around a 15 minute skit of brogue-stained intonation that teases out compelling African rhythms. Calling for a "revolution of everyday life", it’s not Wounded Knee at his most politically ferocious, but the thick canopy of reverberating chant still lures the crowd in like salivating moths to a burn of neon light.

The discordant nature of tonight’s roll-call is underlined by Bit Face’s appearance on stage. This one-woman tide of chip-tune bedlam batters away the hypnotic state woven by Wounded Knee; lobotomising the crowd with a surge of abrasive techno that rattles the rafters of the Roxy's shellshocked hall.

It’s high–octane, grey matter screwing stuff, that has limbs thwacking to electro palpitations and the ring of Nintendo-ised chimes. At times it’s unmistakably derivative, with a couple of numbers flying worryingly close to the ‘big box, little box’ bones of Hard House, but by the time the Glasgow girl downs her Gameboy the boom of applause is glowing testament to her well-honed craft.

Next to the floor is local noise mongers The Leg (a last minute replacement for Kylie Minoise), who come out fighting as a two-piece cauldron of drum and guitar. Wielding their motoring anti-song racket, the duo are at full throttle from the off, clanging their way through two-minute long numbers that jar their way into the lugholes without restrain.

But The Leg’s main failing has always been consistent inconsistency and it’s the lack of a killer punch that, ultimately, brings down tonight’s set. The opening brace’s red raw throb flows into a stodgy middle section that lacks any cohesion and smacks of try-hardy avant-gardism. Despite being resuscitated by a final fling of abrasive, throat-slitting clatter it’s difficult to shake the feeling that this really should have been something so much more.

With lights down low, Cameron Watt arrives on stage in typically low key fashion. Under the guise of his electro-bending moniker Enfant Bastard, Watt cuts a mysterious figure; a guarded presence that embodies the polarising factions of the Auld Reekie scene. Yet, as if in spite of his awkward reputation, he’s in sprightly, almost gregarious, mood here tonight as he reels out small talk to the waiting masses.

Plugging his latest release on SL Records, the regally entitled 'Master Dude', Watt steps slowly into the set; almost afraid to interfere with his circuitry of bleep-inducing gadgets. But from the moment he strikes a warning shot of ‘I f***ing hate you’ into the Roxy’s airpspace, mayhem descends. Enfant Bastard has arrived.

The gargantuan blasts of scattergun electronica shooting from the speakers splinter like shrapnel in the eardrums. If electro-shock is Watt’s intention, then he does it with the precision of a psychiatric doctor, neurologically assaulting the crowd with wave after wave of hyperactive, decibel-frothing cuts. Not that those at the front care - they’ve already submitted to the electronic onslaught.

Running the gamut between rumbling Drum ‘n’ Bass and epileptic Happy Hardcore, this splice and dice masterclass is an exhilarating thrill to ride. Every beat feels insistent, as if compelling feet to cut loose, while Watt, now wholly ingrained in the room’s euphoria, feeds the frenzy with arms aloft and fists-pumping the air. It’s almost ridiculous to say it, but this feels more like clubland than the efforts of an enigmatic experimentalist.

How this autobahn atmosphere transfers to record is anyone’s guess. But tonight that really doesn’t matter. Cameron Watt is no longer making music for chins to be stroked; this is music that demands to be danced to. And the funny thing is, you know he loves it.

LIVE REVIEW: Twilight Sad, Errors @ Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh 13 October

The Twilight Sad

Despite clashing with Scotland’s efforts at upstaging football’s reigning world champions, Edinburgh’s Liquid Room is rammed with pale-faced indie urchins tonight. The reason? Two of the country’s most intense acts are moments away from plying their hearing-aid busting trade in the venue’s freshly re-constructed stage.

Billed as a duel between a duo of amply busted blondes, the titillating pre-gig posters prove disappointingly off-kilter. Still, when you’re talking about a pairing as cacophonous as The Twilight Sad and Errors, it’s difficult to quibble over misleading marketing. In fact, there’s a tinge of a relief it’s a lingerie-free show.

ErrorsAfter two weeks on the road, Errors are struggling to shake off the tour bus cramps. The slow methodical opening notes of 'Bridge or Cloud?' filter out wearily, like the aspirin-seeking fumble induced by a morning after. But once the mechanics of their idiosyncratic machine get going, the Rock Action-signed quartet shift into a frenetic pace.

Although difficult to pin down on record, Errors live are a much more transparent experience. Math dalliances run down the band’s spine and educated time signatures noodle through every number. Simon Ward’s inter-song bouts of laconic self-deprecation may suggest they’re all too ready to play the fool, but this is a band that demands to be taken seriously.

Tonight’s action is spellbinding; rattling to the sound of discordant, cowbell-stained cuts while drummer James Hamilton pummels skins with marathon man ambitions. At times the retrograde synths float dangerously close to hands-to-the-heavens dancefloor cheese, but when the brazenly ambitious 'Mr Milk' is bruised into the mix such annoyances are easy to forgive.

Swaying together in krautrock hypnosis, Errors’ patchwork of guitar, effects and drum tighten to the point of rigor mortis, setting limbs in an epileptic trance to 'Salut France!' and 'Toes'. As this perspiring pit of a venue will testify, it’s the sound of a band pushing to its peak.

You could argue The Twilight Sad are making their descent from Errors’ destination. Forget The Night Ahead, last year’s follow up to the much lauded Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, failed to click with the music buying droves and their troubles were compounded by bassist Craig Orzel’s sudden departure. Suddenly a sullen band just got morbid.

The Twilight SadBut the Kilsyth quartet are a resilient mob and new songs 'The Wrong Car' and 'Throw Yourselves Into The Water Again' prove there’s enough fuel to light their excruciatingly loud furnace. And by firing into the former with the violence of a midnight mugging, James Graham is hell bent on denying eager obituary writers their ‘should have been so much more’ soundbites.

Tonight, The Twilight Sad are merciless: deafening in volume and unnervingly precise in execution. As Graham’s aggressive, often indecipherable, intone growls its way around 'I Became A Prostitute' and the absorbing 'That Summer At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy', a congealed mass of noise shudders behind, quickly making its way through the floorboards.

The problem with Graham’s demented stage-prowling is that the band’s vastly improved musical ear tends to be overlooked. Instead of pulverising venues straight down the middle, they’ve added an all-consuming air to their performance; as if they’ve finally mastered the art of filling a room. Of course, this is still gargantuan, ear-raping stuff, but now it’s executed with steely purpose.

While few numbers here are drawn from album number two, tonight’s roaring reawakening suggests a more fitting long-player may not be far off. Closing with a ferocious, claustrophobic rendition of 'And She Would Darken The Memory', The Twilight Sad are becoming what we always thought they could be: a band to be scared of.

Photos: Su Anderson