“Four hours isn't enough,” said a giddy Emma Pollock at the end of a marathon shift fronting a five-piece supergroup at Chemikal:Land, one of eleven stages at Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual New Year's Day derive around the country's cultural riches. As exhausted as Pollock and her Chemikal Underground Records label-mates undoubtedly were after three sets of dove-tailing between each other's material, she had a point. While it was possible to sprint between the venues dotted around Edinburgh's Old Town, a more relaxed approach was key to the day's enjoyment.
This was the case at Sea Bird:Land, hosted by the Stornoway-based An Lanntair arts centre at Old Saint Paul's Episcopal Church. Here, fiddler Aidan O'Rourke, guitarist Graham Stephen and drummer John Blease provided a live soundtrack to Dalziel and Scullion's environmental film installation, Tumadh is Turas: Immersion and Journey. Beamed through an oracle-like circular screen, the films captured dazzling images of birds circling an otherwise uninhabited island landscape.
Hanna Tuulikki's equally evocative film-work, Women of the Hill, was tucked into a corner of St Giles Cathedral, which, in the care of Skye's Atlas Arts organisation, became Blue Skye:Land. With the room lined with bespoke objects made for the original performance, Tuulikki's song-cycle conjured up the spirit of ancient goddesses.
Something similar occurred in the upstairs exhibition space of the National Museum of Scotland, which choreographer Christine Devaney's Curious Seed company transformed into D'Arc:Land. On a vast, crayoned-on canvas, Devaney and artist Yvonne Buskie moved through a slow-burning meditation which, punctuated by the minimal guitar and cello textures of Luke Sutherland and Robin Mason, became a living collage of ritual and redemption.
Over at City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, the Vic Galloway curated Lyrical:Land saw Kathryn Joseph beguile, while C Duncan's mix of acoustic guitar, whistling and three-part harmonies recalled long-lost 1980s pastoralists, In Embrace.
Chemikal:Land, meanwhile, lined Assembly Roxy's walls with an archive of posters from the label's early days, as Pollock was accompanied by RM Hubbert, Julian Corrie, aka electro-pop auteur, Miaoux Miaoux, and bassist Stevie Jones' Sound of Yell project featuring viola player Aby Vulliamy. The day ended with a jaunty Miaoux Miaoux number that sounded as sweetly soulful as Scritti Politti at their most sublime. So infectious was it that a member of the venue's staff was inspired to indulge in a brief burst of break-dancing, making for an energetic end to the most chilled-out of days.
The Herald, January 5th 2015