Skip to main content

E. Bias – The Emmanuel Bias EP (Kick And Clap / Because Music) / AMOR – Paradise / In Love An Arc (Night School Records)

The spirit of nightclubs past, present and future hangs joyously over these two releases by different permutations of a Glasgow underground supergroup steeped in the city's DIY art/music interface. Both are limited edition 12” vinyl releases packaged in sleeves that resemble old-school DJ-friendly platters as flash as they are cheesy. Both too are as myth-makingly conceptual as you can get.

The first finds electronicist and Turner Prize-nominated artist Luke Fowler, Franz Ferdinand drummer Paul Thomson and vocalist/composer Richard Youngs joining forces for six slices of insular techno. These pieces are seemingly inspired by allegedly long-lost Italian synthesiser factory worker turned composer/performer, Emmanuel Maggi. The second finds the trio augmenting the line-up with bassist Michael Francis Duch as they morph into AMOR to produce a more organic stew of post-punk avant-disco that could have been excavated from circa 1979 Ladbroke Grove.

Key to both records is Richard Youngs' mantra-like vocal, which for anyone well versed with any of his solo a capella performances sounds rooted more in sixteenth century English madrigals than 1980s proto House. Given the reliance of both on repetition, it makes much more sense than you might initially expect.

As E. Bias, the trio work with a wilfully-limited palette. The opening No Way Back sets a tone of low-end synth-squelch and electronic claps pulsing Youngs' keening voice. Each repeated verse of haiku-like lyrics is punctuated by a Casio organ before a percussive wig-out takes it to climax.

On Emergency, Youngs seems to channel Metal Box era John Lydon while an urgent piano chord sounds the alarm. Landfill finds rhythms dropping in from all sides in a shadowy set-piece, which, like Share adds swathes of percussive patterns over Youngs' melancholy vocal. Ride ups the BPM slightly by throwing Steve Reich-like shapes into the mix.

Finally, Pleasure embraces the contradictions of its title, with Youngs sounding almost mournful over a piano that wouldn't be out of place on a Moby record, before a sepulchral keyboard brings the song to a delicious end. If there's a bona fide club hit on the record, this is it.

As AMOR, the addition of Duch is crucial to a looser sound that spreads out over two thirteen-minute sides. Paradise begins with a thump, a shuffle and Duch's double bass signalling some potential spiritual jazz moves before a piano chord pounds in like it was salvaged from The Red Crayola's Rough Trade era feminist funk anthem, Born in Flames. As with the E.Bias EP, repetition counts for everything. Here, however, it's as if the doors have been kicked open and everybody's taken a deep breath before leaping into an infinitely-brighter world.

Heard immediately after the E.Bias record, Paradise sees Youngs on a mission as he leads the rest of the band on a march to somewhere beyond pleasure, and beyond Pleasure. Musically, Paradise makes for a melting pot of raw rhythm with added synth squiggles. Vocally, Youngs sounds evangelical and possessed with the clarion-calling vigour of Camberwell Now period Charles Hayward.

In Love An Arc is even more eclectic, as it opens with Jane Sayers' scraped violin, which again leans towards free improv territory before it slowly gets overtaken by a bass and piano-led groove. When Youngs' vocal comes in, it's with a pure and instinctive force that drives the rest of the band in a way that makes you yearn to hear it played live.

On one level, both records are meticulously-observed constructions that come from the loving perspective of fan-boys high on Liquid Liquid and Arthur Russell. On another, they transcend their influences to reinvigorate them with a retro-future state of nowness that lives in its own very special moment.

As In Love An Arc careers home into a percussive eruption before pitter-pattering into the distance, it's clear E.Bias and AMOR are two sides of the same dancefloor. Where one internalises the experience, the other is a thing of unfettered joy. Both should be embraced.

Product, March 2017


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

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…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…