Album reviews: Remember Remember | David Gray

band photo of "remember remember". Picture: Contributed

band photo of "remember remember". Picture: Contributed

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It’s been a pleasure to hear Remember Remember grow in ambition and confidence over the past half-decade and more, from the experimental solo project of Glasgow musician Graeme Ronald, who released 2008’s eponymous debut album, to the seven-piece electronic orchestra which created 2011’s follow-up The Quickening.

Remember Remember: Forgetting The Present

Rock Action

Star rating: ***

This third album, recorded in their home city with Tony Doogan, regular producer of their label bosses Mogwai, is a career high so far, a selection of eight instrumentals bursting with drama and emotional intensity.

An air of sophisticated retro-futurism hangs upon everything they do here. Blabbermouth is a strikingly insidious opener, a twinkling surge of repetitive synth lines straight out of the German electronic scene of the 1970s coupled with a lush piano figure and a crashing cymbal reminiscent of a James Bond soundtrack. Le Mayo is a warm, driving analogue house piece which takes a cue or two from French disco, while in The Old Ways and the vaguely Eastern-in-tone Why You Got a Blue Face there are hints of Mogwai’s surging, emotive power, albeit still retaining Remember Remember’s personality – mixing a heavy percussive element with forays into psychedelic folk, for example. Nowhere is this more evident than on the mesmerising finale Frozen Frenzy, a song which – like the album – implores the listener to explore it again and again, and which mirrors the city of its creation with its bold mix of the human and the industrial. David Pollock

Download: Blabbermouth, Frozen Frenzy

POP

David Gray: Mutineers

IHT Records

Star rating: ***

More than 15 years have passed since Babylon and its parent album White Ladder introduced David Gray to a world undeluged by winsome male singer-songwriters, yet as the trickle he inspired has become a flood, his own muse has fallen rather alarmingly out of fashion (in the UK, at least; his last record, 2010’s Foundling, was a top ten US hit). There are no broken boundaries to be found here, but once the forced jollity of tracks like comeback single Back In The World (“I’m naked like a tree / the only way to be”) have been dispensed with, Mutineers settles into an ever-gloomier groove of clear-eyed, middle-aged introspection. It’s a sound which proves to be Gray at his best, like a Home Counties Billy Joel. David Pollock

Download: Birds Of The High Arctic, Gulls

Monty Python: Monty Python Sings (Again)

Universal

Star rating: ****

Ahead of the anticipated media blitz for their reunion at London’s O2, this re-release of the 1989 compilation Monty Python Sings at least gives a good opportunity to experience their unadulterated musical highlights. Included are enduring triumphs Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, The Meaning Of Life and Galaxy Song, alongside the knowingly highbrow Decomposing Composers, playground sniggerfest Sit On My Face and the sharp but playful social comment of Every Sperm Is Sacred and Henry Kissinger. There are three previously unreleased songs and three more recently recorded ones, but the mundane The Silly Walk Song suggests that the stage show might 
be at its best sticking to classics. David Pollock

Download: The Meaning of Life, Accountancy Shanty

JAZZ

The Ugly Bug Ragtime Three: C’mon Meet The Ugly Bug Ragtime Three

C Side Records CR51

Star rating: ****

The versatile Edinburgh-based saxophonist and clarinettist John Burgess (Nova Scotia Jazz Band, Grooveyard, So in Love etc) has found the time to spawn another new band, a trio featuring him exclusively on clarinet, plus Duncan Findlay on guitar/banjo and Andy Sharkey on bass, and a repertoire of mostly long-lost numbers from the 1920s played with vigour and pep (it’s difficult not to use guitarist, raconteur and prolific hatcher of new bands Marty Grosz’s style of language when describing the like-minded Burgess). Great fun, and a classy, authentic act. Alison Kerr

Download: Down Among The Sheltering Palms

FOLK

Jason Titley: Still Rollin

Dreadnought Records DREAD104

Star rating: ****

This is a really good debut solo album from one of the great British bluegrass guitar stars. Jason Titley has guests – 11 from the US and nine from the UK – so the variety within the dozen CD tracks is rich and extensive. From a classic line-up of guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, dobro and bass there are excursions into sonic mayhem with kazoos, or brass and reeds, yet the relaxed but tight rhythmic grooves are always compelling, with superbly played lines flowing all around. Titley has written most of the tracks and includes a limpid Irish reel, but then says goodbye with a finger-busting live recording, on simple acoustic guitar and mandolin. Norman Chalmers

Download: Fluff And Chuff

CLASSICAL

Igor Stravinsky, Richard Wagner: Divine

ES-DUR ES 2044

Star rating: ****

Even without knowing it, this combined CD/DVD feels like a concert recording, with the balancing act of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet music Apollon Musagète for the first half, and scenes from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung for the second. And although the works are performed admirably, it’s not a convincing pairing, either stylistically (Stravinsky was born the year before Wagner died), or in terms of format or subject matter. Stravinsky’s ballet music, written eight years after the fireworks of The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite Of Spring, harks back to classical and baroque forms, while Wagner, for the last work in his Ring Cycle, was still moving forward creatively, with ever more complex themes and orchestration. Deborah Voigt is in fine voice as the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, and Jeffrey Tate conducts the Hamburg Symphony with eminent skill. Alexander Bryce

Download: Track 16, Gräne, mein Ross! Sein mir gegrußt!

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