Tag Archives: Luke Sutherland

May/June 2018 – Long Fin Killie man Luke Sutherland’s new band Rev Magnetic on tour in Scotland and England (25th May to 1st June) with (variously) Superchunk, Erin Friel, Foolish Atoms, Helen Mort, Stonethrower, Salome Benidze, Nova Scotia The Truth, ILK, Caitlin Buchanan, The Honeyfarm, Jack Cheshire and winterThieves

22 May

Rev Magnetic on tour, 25th May to 1st June 2018

I’m rushing this one into post, since I’ve only just heard about it. No apologies for the excessive cut-and-paste here, nor for the absence of much personal insight (although I will say that when a shortage of information meant that I had to dig deeper, I found more).

“While touring the world as guest multi-instrumentalist with Mogwai, Luke Sutherland (Long Fin Killie, Bows, Music A.M.) used the downtime to sketch a bunch of songs. Once he got home, he wrote a handful more and recorded them with the help of a few friends at his cottage on the edge of the Scottish Highlands. The result was an album’s worth of material with references ranging from My Bloody Valentine to Teebs, Lemmy-era Hawkwind to ABBA, Vaughan Williams to Boulez.

“Keen to translate the radiant chaos of the recordings into a live setting, Luke put together Rev Magnetic, featuring Audrey Bizouerne (Gift Horse), Sam Leighton (Live w/ Prides, St MARTiiNS) and Gregor Emond who played with Luke in a band called Hynd, way back before the birth of the internet. Combining elements of dream pop, shoegaze, R&B, and post rock, their first single, Like No Girl That Ever Was/Don’t Let Joy Destroy You is the sound of summer at full pelt.”


 
Imminent Scottish and English tour dates are below:

  • Neu! Reekie @ St Andrew’s Church, 410-412 Easter Road, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 8HT, Scotland, Friday 25th May 2018, 7.15pm (with Salome Benidze + Helen Mort + Erin Friel + The Honey Farm) – information here and here
  • Stereo, 22-28 Renfield Lane, Glasgow, G2 6PH, Scotland, Sunday 27th May 2018, 7.30pm (supporting Superchunk) – information here and here
  • The Hug & Pint, 171 Great Western Road, Glasgow, G4 9AW, Scotland, Tuesday 29th May 2018, 7.30pm (with Nova Scotia The Truth + Caitlin Buchanan) – information here and here
  • Paper Dress Vintage Bar & Boutique, 352a Mare Street, Hackney, London, E8 1HR, England, Wednesday 30th May 2018, 7.30pm (with ILK + Jack Cheshire) – information here, here and here
  • The New Adelphi Club, 89 De Grey Street, Kingston-upon-Hull, East Yorkshire, HU5 2RU, England, Thursday 31st May 2018, 8.00pm (with Foolish Atoms + others t.b.c.) – information here, here and here
  • Conroy’s Basement, 51-53 Meadowside, Dundee, DD1 1EQ, Scotland, Friday 1st June 2018, 8.00pm (with Stonethrower + winterThieves) – information here

It’s probably accidental, but when you take a look at the finer details of the tour, it’s almost like an exploded reflection of Luke’s influences and sympathies; the cultural and artistic breadth he’s shown throughout a career voyaging through books and music. Indie rock and dance chemistry, hip hop and poetry; filtered and transformed Scottish folk; literacy and blasting noise. The balancing of multiple cultures in one evening, or just in one person.


 
Regarding the Glasgow shows… if you’ve been hitting on indie-punk playlists and festival lineups for the past twenty years, you’ll need little introduction to Superchunk. Headlining over Luke and co. at Stereo, they’re early ‘90s favourites who helped define a Carolina DIY punk sound. They were all over the inkies back in the day more or less during the same time that Luke first was; they founded Merge Records, and have kept their place in indie rock affections ever since. On the other hand, the two support acts at the Hug & Pint show are still thrumming – just – under the radar.

Originally from Aberdeen, Caitlin Buchanan is an emerging acoustic singer-songwriter working towards her first EP and taking Angel Olsen, Laura Marling and Kate Bush as influences. Perhaps Angel’s the most obvious one – the slowcore tempos, the collapsing drapes of melody – but Caitlin has little of Angel’s narcotic slur. She also isn’t as propulsive or as easy-to-follow as Laura, and (despite her own musical theatre background) isn’t as brilliantly hammy as Kate.

That’s not actually a string of negatives. Rather, it’s a suggestion that, even at this early stage, Caitlin’s already sloughed off her initial inspirations and found a voice of her own: a folded, cleverly elusive literary one which makes you sit up and take notice, full of double-take lyrical moments. Nestled in strong hammocks of folk guitar, and in gorgeous transplanted curves of Scottish melody, her songcraft is often a series of strange elisions and non-sequiturs somehow coalescing into stories, delivered in a velvety softness which makes it all the more jolting when she drops a perfectly-enunciated precision F-bomb into the crook of a tune – “I fucked up your favourite song, and this is why I don’t do imitations. / Betrayed by the idea of God, we are her most hated creations / Dressed for the office but underqualified, / express my gratitude between her slender thighs…”


 
I suspected that Nova Scotia The Truth might have picked her name as a ScotNat political assertion. It seems that I was half right. A “queen of sample-based electronic music”, active in the Scottish hip hop scene since her teenage years (and now stretching out as a producer-performer), Nova might well be representing a rising strand of modern Scotland, but not necessarily one which will cradle comfortably in the old-school saltire. Her preoccupations are with feminism and of people of colour: a pavement-and-club engagement with embedded and intersectional inequalities, mapped out in whip-crack sonic edits and shifts.

Nova’s recent ‘Al-Haqq’ EP is a determined but bewildering mash of pointers and unrest. Cyber-mimetic R&B, corbies and round-chamberings; blasts of rap and dancehall chat; industrial-grime sound collage; all mixed in with found speech from black culture and protest and faith (some of it tweaked and repurposed, but much of it left free to run). The follow-up, Zoom, is a half-hour of rapid sonic cross-cuts in a similar vein: it’s intended as a backing track for a live rap story of love and talk gone wrong, ultimately, broadening out to a wider exploration about power imbalances in relationships, silencings and language. As with a lot of underground hip hop, there’s plenty packed in there: I’m guessing that onstage, this flies.


 
The Dundee show could have been created as a vast-contrast tribute to Luke’s own willingness to be broad in listening. Rev Magnetic aside, it’s a truly strange, rather brave pairing of opposites. “East coast ecossemo” band Stonethrower bring “monolithic slabs of lead-heavy riffage, angular rage-filled spiky melodies and frantic jazz-core arrangements to blast our faces off”; while Edinburgh/Dundee duo winterThieves are a sacramental ambient act “pool(ing) their varied musical backgrounds to craft a sound that is in equal measures melancholic and euphoric, featuring vast ambient swells, lush guitar and piano melodies, and crashing drums,”, playing wordless slow-reveal post-rock hymnals to an empty sky. The angry hammer and the lonely quilt.



 
South of the border, the London show features Ilk, whose “colourful and dreamy songs unravel against a collision of psych pop influences and scruffy, found sound warmth… the band’s songs and sketches are somehow both grandiose and playful, upbeat and melancholic” plus the “psychedelic jazz-infused” songwriting of rising folk-rock favourite Jack Cheshire in solo mode.

Supporting at Hull, Chris Norrison – a.k.a. Foolish Atoms – is a solo performer who “dreams up droning acoustic swamps in his sleep… creating music so delusional and pain numbing, audiences peacefully drown in the sweet rustic guitar tones and his strained vocals.” Other acts will be added at Hull over the course of the next few days: let’s see what the city’s recent pop-cultural renaissance has produced…

 
However, it’s the Edinburgh show which looks like the pick of the crop. It’s a packed-to-the-gills mass of words, music and beats put together by “Scotland’s favourite avant-garde noisemakers” and high/low art boundary-smashers Neu! Reekie, as a partial benefit for the Save Leith Walk community crowdfunder.

As well as Rev Magnetic, on hand for performance are poets Salome Benidze and Helen Mort and a couple of Scottish hip hop acts. Onetime Deadlife Crew member Erin Friel (part of a wave of Scottish hip hoppers who stick, refreshingly, to their own accents and cadences) recently opened for rapper/activist Loki at his sell out King Tuts event for Poverty Safari. The Honey Farm – Scotland’s only all-female rap crew – are self-confessed East Lothian rap bumpkins who “simultaneously skewer and celebrate rap stereotypes with their unapologetic, take no shit attitude” and whose recent debut release L.A.D.S. is “a dragged-up pussy-grabs-back takedown of laddish, bullshit behaviour.”

It’s not quite the fierce textured outrospection of Nova, and perhaps the Farm sometimes let their drama school backgrounds show a little, but it’s all fine. Wit over pose; and plenty of rap’s supposed to be accessible, youthful and funny, including the bit of cross-cast fun with which the Farm kick off the roll of verbiage below…

 

June 1998 – EP reviews – Mogwai’s ‘No Education=No Future (Fuck the Curfew)’ (“the politics are in the sound”)

30 Jun

Mogwai: 'No Education=No Future (Fuck the Curfew)' EP

Mogwai: ‘No Education=No Future (Fuck the Curfew)’ EP

Mogwai – Glasgow’s “young team” of guitar noise-puppies – are just drawing out of their teens, but they’re already two-and-a-half albums old, and tour veterans. The name’s appropriate – in the sleeve photos they may look a little cute and fresh-faced to an twenty-seven-year-old codger like me, but if ‘No Education…’ is any indication, they do change into something far scarier at night. (They beat Hanson’s burbling Ewoks, anyway).

The punch-card stabs of guitar are pure Slint, but whereas Slint would lay muttered, emotional stories over their six-stringed dots and dashes, Mogwai are vocal-free and rely on pure, bullish emotion as walloped out by plectrum and drumstick. The explicit political rage of the EP’s title isn’t spat out in teen-punk slogan songs, nor in Prodigy chants. It’s carried in the rushing up against the front of the beat: it’s in their surges against the decay of sound. It’s in the faith (which they share with Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine) in big dirty noise over a mediocre world. The politics are in the sound.

Perhaps it’s because of the sparse, distant, classical-in-rebellion melodies from Luke Sutherland’s guesting violin, but Xmas Steps carries an odd resemblance to King Crimson‘s Larks Tongues In Aspic. It emerges from a soft interlocking hush of irregular rolls of bass and barely-there guitars (similar to the tension-gatherings of Bark Psychosis) then rises – nerves preparing for the clench – to a building, slashing crescendo and an eventual scrubbing, screeching roar of amp-shredding overdrive and machine-gun spurts of snare, before unclenching its fists and subsiding down into peace again, calmed by the mothering voice of the violin. It nods to Neu!’s jerky rhythms of robot-thrash as much as to Slint or Crimson, but, crucially, it’s warmer than any of them. You can hear the exact moment when strummed guitars, under growing pressure, begin to rebel and distort. Towards the end there’s a papery bang of noise; perhaps an amp blowing up from suppressed rage and cutting across the quiet wind-down.


 
After Xmas Steps the other two tracks seem like little brothers, but maintain the interest. Rollerball’s a sort of classical Krautrock etude. Soft guitar figures, sub-audible tinkles of piano off on the fringes, rough points of drum decoration: the final sound is of the lads downing instruments and strolling out of the studio, and it’s as much a part of the piece as any of the notes were. Small Children in the Background lays its sleepy guitar glints over a glassy fuzz-trail. It rises, almost orchestral, to an emotional peak, then cuts out to small and precious ensemble playing as sensitive as an eyelash. Whispers of voice lap back and forth at the front of the mix.


 
Without words, without direct vocals, without even an individual signature to each player, Mogwai’s music is oddly impersonal… but still, somehow, powerfully emotional. As they glower out from behind their clanking guitars, they might place themselves among the Glasgow arties, but in fact they’re in another place altogether. They’ll hate me for mentioning the “prog” word, but – in the best sense – it’s there in the music already. They’re already far closer to the intensely shaped, angular expressionism of Rothko, Henry Cow or The Monsoon Bassoon than they are to The Delgados’ Velvet Undergound impressions or to Bis’ synthesised pogo-sticking.

At the moment, they’ve got all the dynamics, all the expressive intensity they need – all they need now is the technique, and they’ll break through to that level their music is yearning towards. Expect great things from them by the time they hit twenty-five. ‘Til then, the least we can do is to lift the curfew on them.

Mogwai: ‘No Education=No Future (Fuck the Curfew)’
Chemikal Underground Ltd., CHEM026CD (5 020667 342652)
CD-only EP
Released:
29th June 1998
Get it from: (2020 update) Original EP best obtained second-hand; download available from Chemikal Underground
Mogwai online:
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