Skip to main content

Lomond Campbell – Black River Promise (Triassic Tusk)

A brooding melancholy pervades from the opening chord of FOUND vocalist Ziggy Campbell's debut full-length release, which is a world apart from the electronic abstractions of his Edinburgh-sired band. Having fled the not so big city to hole himself up in a dilapidated Highland school-house, Campbell's self-imposed exile has seen Ziggy morph into Lomond. The isolation the move has brought with it has given him space to breathe in a way that has clearly affected this set of seven songs and two instrumentals.

Like a home-grown musical reflection of Henry Thoreau's novel, Walden, and Big Sur by Jack Kerouac, this second release on the Campbell co-owned Triassic Tusk label is very much the sound of one man getting his head together in the country. Rather than bask in some wide-eyed nouveau-hippy idyll, this is Campbell, not in retreat, but more in bewildered and world-weary confrontation with himself.

As a scene-setter, Fallen Stag may begin with a low strum and a mournful fiddle, but as it comes blinking into the light, it morphs into a panoramic chamber instrumental driven by a lush orchestral sweep that conjures up wide-open spaces witnessed for the first time. This is the first taste too of the Pumpkinseeds, the glorious ten-piece string ensemble watched over by cellist, member of Edinburgh band The Leg and DIY supergroup Modern Studies and composer in his own right, Pete Harvey. His arrangements embellish Campbell's stark confessionals with a breadth and depth that brings them sensitively to life with a roaring empathy.

Campbell's first words come on the album's title track, a cracked downbeat epic which sees the song's narrator communing with nature. The strings wrapped around Campbell's delivery personify the river as the words meld into the landscape, becoming a part of it much as Campbell's hand-claps and one-man-band bass drum kicks become an extension of his musical soul.

The wild west showdown slide guitar that opens Every Florist in Every Town reveals Campbell as the proverbial stranger, a lonesome cowboy moseying about his business while contemplating the meaning of life, finding salvation and companionship en route. The plaintive harmonica and whining dog that end the song suggests a knowing reinvention of old-time back-woods porch songs.

The plucked metallic guitar and doleful faraway yearning on The Misery Bell sounds like a Highland cousin to to former Pale Fountains and Shack vocalist Michael Head's sublime, strung-out and criminally neglected 1997 album, The Magical World of The Strands. Brutes in Life is jauntier, and sounds like a man reflecting on shared intimacies over a skittery backbeat and plaintive harmonica. The Lengths may be spritely, but it is full of purpose and a call at least for renewed commitment. Acharacle, the second instrumental on the album, recorded, like Fallen Stag, in a five-hundred year old castle, features a moody slide guitar that ducks in and out of view before giving way to wide-screen baroque mediaevalism.

A cover of singer/songwriter Nuala Kennedy's Coal Daughter is possibly the most traditional song here in terms of structure, and Campbell's delivery is raw with vocal grit. It is in the final seven bittersweet minutes of Hurl Them Further, however, where Campbell seems to find closure. Harvey's arrangements fall somewhere between western film composer Jerome Moross and the mournful classicism of Arvo Part, this is Campbell tying himself up in emotional knots one last time. As he pleas for understanding from his sparring, the song's end is the musical equivalent of wandering off into the sunset as if a weight has been lifted on an album that is part purging, part revelation of the most quietly euphoric kind.

www.triassictusk.com

Product, January 2017

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…