Olaf Furniss and Derick Mackinnon look back on a notable year for Scotland’s underground music scene
Neu Gestalt is the alter ego of reclusive Edinburgh producer and musician Les Scott, who divides his time between creating soundscapes and working as an architectural consultant. His latest collection of compositions, Rain Chamber, was released on Edinburgh label Alextronic Records on Friday and the track Capsules – our Track of the Month for December – features fragments of Japanese language reassembled into new words, set to fretless bass lines and exotic noises. If you need an antidote to horrendous Christmas hits, darken the room, put on Rain Chamber and embark on a musical journey with Neu Gestalt.
2014 has proved an eventful year for many of the acts who have previously provided our Track of the Month. Young Fathers scooped the Scottish Album of The Year award for the excellent Tape 2, then went on to win the Mercury Music Prize in October with the follow up, Dead. The band’s Graham Hastings then used a newspaper interview to offer a robust critique of the impact the council’s noise regulations are having on the capital’s music scene.
A few days later, the quotes were picked up by the Edinburgh Evening News, which led to over a 100 promoters, venue owners, musicians and music journalists turning up for a meeting to discuss the future of Edinburgh’s live scene. With the Picture House on course to being turned into a JD Weatherspoon “super” pub, the Queen’s Hall being forced to take down posters for forthcoming gigs and many music locations complaining about punitive sanctions from the council’s planning and licensing departments, expect 2015 to be an interesting year.
Stanley Odd frontman Dave Hook (aka Solareye) was a particularly sought after voice in the run up to the referendum and (perhaps unsurprisingly) Nicola Sturgeon declared the song, Son I Voted Yes, one of her all-time favourites. Another fan is Alex Salmond’s niece, or at least that’s who he said the autograph was for when he called by the band’s dressing room last month, to get his vinyl copy of their latest album, A Thing Brand New, signed.
Dundee act Model Aeroplanes have lived up to expectations. This year they’ve supported Editors, The View and performed at T in The Park, Electric Fields and Radio 1’s Big Weekend. Their second single Electricity was released in May, and went on to garner spins on Radio 1, XFM and a sync placement on Made In Chelsea. Check them out at Stirling Castle on Hogmanay.
Way beyond the Central Belt – in Wick to be precise – six piece Neon Waltz, pictured, have certainly made a significant impact in their first year. The band signed a deal with Noel Gallagher’s manager, secured airplay from Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens and performed at numerous festivals including T In The Park and Tramlines. Currently touring the UK it looks like the buzz will continue over the coming months.
On the festival front, new kid on the block, Electric Fields, proved a big hit with lovers of emerging Scottish talent. Hosted at on the grounds of Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway, the sell-out event promptly announced 29 August as its 2015 date. We expect great things, not least because one of the organisers is leading taste-maker Chay Woodman, who until recently has booked The Wickerman Festival’s excellent Solus Tent.
This year also saw creative companies go from strength to strength, most notably Tenement TV. It started life filming from a tenement flat in Glasgow’s West End and broadcasting sessions via YouTube, and has picked up three million views, thanks to featuring stars including Bastille, Passenger and Jake Bugg, as well as Scottish talent Model Aeroplanes, Nina Nesbitt and Fatherson. In addition to this, the company has added a multi-venue festival, Tenement Trail, and an eight-part series for STV Glasgow.
Another company which is hoping to establish itself in 2015 is Edinburgh-based Skoog Music which has launched a crowd sourcing campaign to manufacture a new instrument – Skoog 2.0 – a squeezable foam cube which produces a variety of sounds. The deadline to pledge is 8 January. For info visit http://igg.me/at/skoog/
• Derick Mackinnon and Olaf Furniss organise the Born To Be Wide music industry seminar and social events.