Tickling My Fancy:  Armellodie Records  annual sampler,  Simcock & Goloubev  and  Dublin’s Girl Band.


Armellodie Records

Armellodie Records Sampler 2014  – Available Now For Free Via Bandcamp.

On the cusp of what could be a radical break from the unruly neighbors over the boarder, Scotland’s decision on independence, even if it never comes to pass, has certainly concentrated the Caledonian mind. Although it has always been a bastion of cultural activity, with a music scene that’s constantly punched well above its weight, Scotland is flexing its soft power credentials – the ever-gentrified Glasgow, home to massive investment from the BBC alone, is set to host the Commonwealth games this Summer – in the hope of calming fears over what independence will mean for the country.

The spotlight is on and the country’s hive of both congruous and not so congruous independent labels should, if there was any justice, reap some rewards for their endeavors. Well at least draw some attention to the quality of music being created there at least. Cottage industry labels such as Songs, By Toad Records (no strangers to this blog) and the featured Armellodie Records, constantly furnish anyone who’ll listen with the most erudite, charming, and at times, most rambunctious noises and primal tones.

Featured a few months back on the Monolith, Armellodie’s signing, Super Adventure Club both rattled and kicked us in the proverbial bollocks with its perverse brand of fusion jazz and avant-rock. I believe we described them as: ‘…a gangly uncouth creature that flails and jerks between fits of awkward progressive jazz, bombastic heavy mental pomposity, and kitsch rock.’

As a thank you to both those who have already cottoned onto or hope to become future converts, the label is giving away a free download of its annual sampler compilation. Featuring a broad spectrum of diaphanous twinkled instrumentals (The Pure Conjecture), rustic homegrown country poise (The Scottish Enlightenment), disjointed chugging indie guitar (Kill The Captains) and energetic new wave (Chris Devotion & The Expectations).  A lovely gesture don’t you think.

Gwilym Simcock & Yuri Goloubev

Gwilym Simcock & Yuri Goloubev as Duo Art   ‘Reverie At Schloss Elmau’  (ACT)  –  13th  January  2014.

Imbued with references and playful nuanced takes on classical influences way over my head, the attentive duo of Gwilym Simcock & Yuri Goloubev produce a poised fusion of 19th century highbrow compositions (‘Non-Schumann Lied’ a tribute to, and in-joke, about German composers; which Goloubev quips: “…should have really been called ‘Non-Brahms Symphony’), and modernist jazz on their latest venture, Reverie At Schloss Elmau.

Teaming up for an elegant interplay of sharp resonating, but also delicately placed, piano and rebounding reification double bass, the harmonious duo embody the chosen surroundings of the Schloss Elmau hotel – a familiar retreat used as a sort of locational muse by Simcock on his 2011 Mercury Prize nominated solo album, Good Days At Schloss Elmau.  The Bavarian location, at the foot of the Wetterstein Mountains, close to Klais, was originally built in 1916 as an artistic retreat. Over the decades, except for a brief period when it was partially destroyed by fire in 2005, it has also played host to a number of performances: the tradition continued here by the adroit jazz composers.

Achingly sophisticated and purposeful, this assiduous suite gently unfurls its scenic charms with the prelude ‘Pastoral’: a simple introduction lightly transformed by a series of harmonic variations.

Continuing to travel a lightly traced panoramic, each instrumental suggests a mood of contemplative reflection; though some are more bouncy and optimistic than others, like the spritely, avant-jazz nursery rhyme ‘Antics’.

Motives and useful pointers are sketched out for each song in the provided composers notes, enlightening the ‘dear’ listener by adding context and back story: we learn ‘Vain’ is a dedication of sorts by the Russian double bassist, Goloubev, to Simcock, and that ‘Lost Romance’ was originally written for the accordion.

A cordial semi-romantic, jazz fused classical soundtrack awaits.

Girl Band  ‘France 98’  EP   &  ‘Lawman’ single  (Any Other City Records)  Available Now.

Here’s some decent dirge-bending noise from Ireland. Dublin’s Girl Band moniker is not only misleading as the band is in fact bereft of any feminine touch; instead the boyish four-piece plow through No Age, Pissed Jeans and Shellac to produce a rambunctious mooning wall of sound.

Their debut Fifa world cup named EP, France 98, and brand new single, ‘Lawman’, can be appreciatively heard here.


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