Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh
On paper the Phantom Band shouldn’t work. The Glasgow sextet’s unholy
stew of Green-era REM guitars, Scots folk balladeering, motorik
Krautrock rhythm and Appalachian Americana tugs in so many ways – quite
often all in the same song - it should all collapse in on itself in
disaster. As their debut album Checkmate Savage and 2010’s follow-up
The Wants proved, however, it makes for thrilling listening.
Live it’s even better, as is the support from Chemikal Underground
labelmates FOUND, the Edinburgh trio who, for their third album,
Factorycraft, have stripped down, grown some muscles and let rip where
loose-fit post Beta Band stylings used to sit. So fiercely focused is
their pot-pourri of electronic squiggles and wigged-out references to
Vincent Gallo and Johnny Cash, that vocalist Ziggy Campbell not only
breaks a string on his own guitar, but also on the borrowed Phantom
Band axe that replaces it.
Three of the Phantom Band sport wooly bunnets as they launch into the
horror movie chorale of The Howling. Keyboardist Andy Wake especially
seems to have channeled the ghost of Tom Weir by way of Brian Eno,
while bearded vocalist Rick Anthony looks every inch the twinkly-eyed
hellfire preacher as he declaims every song like some arcane piece of
epic widescreen mythology.
By the time they climax with the rolling thunder of Left Hand Wave,
bassist Gerry Hart is standing astride the bass drum and Anthony is
climbing up the speaker stack and swinging from the ceiling vents as if
they’re monkey bars. The night ends with Crocodile, possibly the only
instrumental Paul Hogan tribute to feature dueling melodicas and
Giorgio Moroder synth. What else.
The Herald, March 21st 2011