Alan Dearling shares some thoughts and musings on new musical offerings
Not just Ship Land
BBC Radio Scotland fell in love with Ainsley’s track, ‘No Time to Lose Time’ and played it as their single of the week. I was captivated by this new-to-me voice. Plaintive, melodious – and really rather gorgeous. Some shades of Joni Mitchell – ethereal, floating and extremely hard to pigeon-hole. Often, Ainsley in this musical-mix, sounds more akin to ethnic-world music than Scottish. A tad strange, given Ainsley’s background in Traditional folk music and the band, Barluath, who play some great modern Gaelic songs.
As the publicity tells us: “2021 sees a new direction for Ainsley with the release of her solo album ‘Not Just Ship Land’. Produced by BBC composer Malcolm Lindsay, featuring the Czech Studio Orchestra conducted by Mikel Toms. Featuring self-penned songs such as ‘Belle of the Ball’ from Ainsley’s first solo release, accompanied by string orchestra.” Here’s a video about the making of the album (from Malcolm):
And a lovely, recent, stripped-down performance from Glasgow, at Govan’s long-closed Lyceum Theatre:
‘Not Just Ship Land’, was released on March 31st 2021. It’s a haunting set, inspired by the surroundings and unsung heroes of Govan, Glasgow. It’s a place of ship-building and working-class culture. Ainsley’s songs focus on the people, the ‘local heroes’, who have often been neglected, despite their astonishing achievements. These legends include Olympic gold medallists, Antarctic explorers, those who fought for the people, and many more.
Songs of Innocence and Experience
I know this as the title for William Blake’s poems. And it does kind of fit this modern gamelan ep from London-based Polish artist, Aga. She has been described as the purveyor of ‘fairytale darkness’. Aga has Bjork-child-like voice and plays the Indonesian sasando. It’s artsy and really quite clever. Very suitable for film soundtracks, methinks…
She said in an interview for ‘With Guitars’ of the single release, ‘Night’:
“The song is inspired by Pauline Oliveiros’ Sonic Meditations – a set of beautiful listening exercises that I discovered in my library at uni and that I would recommend everyone to try. Number 5 meditations instructions are as follows: ‘Take a walk at night. Walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears’.”
Here’s the video – see what you think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flbT5HLiPeI
And, the psychedelic video for ‘In the Oceans’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQWm4uRSKTE
One to watch out for on the musical frontiers.
Science Fiction Reality
More ‘Live’ (sounding) psych-punk from these guys. This is your genuine deep-space vibes from the hair-shaking, UFO-spotting, counter-cultural world of bongs and sneering anarchist attitude. Very much alternative-festi favourites with fans of the likes of Gong, Hawkwind, Inner City Unit and the Pink Fairies.
Trailer for the new album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONIrjIyGWh4
And here’s a live video of them performing ‘Deconstruct, Divide & Rule’ featured on the new album. Political, angry and one for the proletariat. Up Against The Wall!
Nice guys and it’s always a pleasure to hear from Gregg McKella who founded the band back in 1997. Personally, I think the album takes off from Track 2 onwards, which features the mighty riffing of the title track, ‘Science Fiction Reality’. A strong song which captures the essence and hypnotic power of psychedelic rock. The opener, ‘These are the Days’ ends with a lengthy sample of Saint Greta speechifying, which I have decided I can live without. But positively, I can easily imagine many of the tracks being great crowd-pleasers at the likes of the Stonehenge Drove, Kozfest and Sonic Rock Solstice. ‘This is Your Inheritance’ for all the Sonic Brain Cadets around the Globe!
Food for Thought
This is jazz that is trippy and rather ‘out there’! It reminds me of my initial journey from rock, folksy whimsy, and Parker, Coltrane and Davis modern jazz into the realms of Chick Corea, Return to Forever and Annette Peacock back in the 1970s. That’s not say anything detrimental – ‘Food for Thought’ is modern and effective.
A thing of beauty if you enjoy acapella improvisation, scatting, and an underlying accompaniment of very fine vibes. It soars and glides with real quality, experimentation, and consummate ensemble-playing from a classy group of soloists, who are all bandleaders in their own rights. So, in a real sense it is a summit meeting of jazz talent. This London-based group offer complex rhythms, melodies and a bit of a psychedelic sound-excursion. But, unlike some similar ensembles, they sound really ‘together’, with a coherent collective sound. The vocalist, Brigitte Beraha floats wordlessly above her colleagues in the mix…a siren’s song, perhaps?
I’d like to experience them live in a suitably ethereal setting. You can tell something about them from the track titles:
Hermetica; P.T.S.D.; Dreams; The Three Omegas; Close To Home; Quezalcoatlus; Familiar Fractals; Haven’t Met You Yet.