Play: The Release »
"We all have a unique musical fingerprint, and the reason I write the music I do is because it's the type of music I want to hear."
So says Fraser Rowan of Glasgow electronic three-piece The Lava Experiments. "Some choose to ignore it in favour of sounding like a specific genre or act. I write music to listen to it."
And perfectionist Rowan has a tendency to listen to his music for "days on end, continually tweaking it and developing new versions".
It's a process mirrored in the development of his band since its inception as a solo project in 2005. Following the self-release of debut album Wavelength and some early live shows, Rowan added bass player Roddy Campbell to the mix. Securing the services of Alan Wond on drums at the tail end of 2008 completed the transformation from one-man bedroom project to fully-fledged live band, with Rory McGregor now on bass.
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"Up until I caught UNKLE live at the ABC in 2007 on their War Stories tour, I was content to play laid-back electronic style soundscapes; just me and my guitar, my vocals and my laptop," Rowan explains of the act's evolution in sound. "That night at the ABC blew me away – those electronic pioneers were on stage with a band! They were brutal, heavy and irresistible.
"That was a life-changing moment – and why I decided to get a bass player and drummer on board."
This month sees the release of 'Blackbody Vol. II' through Hanamuke. The second in what is intended to be a trilogy of EPs is a five-track slice of gorgeously cinematic electronica, reminiscent in places of Kraftwerk or a heavier Explosions in the Sky.
Opening track 'Piecing Memories Together' sets the scene with Rowan's dreamy vocals and swirling synth building over delicate acoustic guitar and ambient drums. The vocals take a back seat on atmospheric 'Sun Flies', and 'River Shape' is an interlude of pure Sunday morning ambience. 'Ring to the Dark Place' and 'The Release' round the EP off in spectacular style, the latter a piece of dark, electronic shoegaze showing the versatility the additional band members have brought to the project.
"The structural style employed in our songs is the antithesis of the 'intro, verse, chorus' gubbins," says Rowan. "Our tunes tend to start off quiet, gradual. Using repetition and introducing new parts from other instruments, each piece evolves – some further than others.
"This style was definitely borrowed from Loop and early Spiritualized. It has also resulted in comparisons to the likes of Explosions in the Sky and God Speed You Black Emperor and, although I don't think we sound like them, I see where they come from."
Rowan is proud to be a part of the Scottish music scene, describing it as "vibrant, varied and visceral. Fantastic and unparalleled too, but they don't begin with V," he quips. "We've had folks from across the world contacting us on MySpace wanting to know what's in the water supply in Scotland as it's producing such fantastic bands. The ones that make it are only the tip of the iceberg.
"In Glasgow in particular we are very lucky – every night of the week there is a variety of excellent bands playing in one of our fantastic small venues. It's a privilege that you only realise when you are no longer here."
Blackbody Vol. II is released on Monday, 31st August. The band will celebrate this second EP with a launch party at Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow on 4th September, and the final part of the trilogy is scheduled to follow next year.