CD of the week: The Douglas Firs

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The Edinburgh-based group end the year on a dark artistic high with an album inspired by the East Lothian witch hunts over 500 years ago.

The Douglas Firs

The Furious Sound

Armellodie, £8.99

****

It sets off at great speed with The Great Generation, whose pounding tom toms propel the album into the meaty beats of Alone.

Expect no-frills tribal percussion, insistent and relentless beats on Backroads, and wispy and wistful electronica in the claustrophobic and atmospheric Black Forest.

We’re then plunged into the moody ecclesiastics of Devils, enhanced by the band’s on-location recording techniques, absorbing the fabric of the historical sites selected.

The eerie choral arrangements and sparse instrumentation conjure up images of misty graveyards and shadowy spirituals, while the madrigal vocal styling is shaped from the Grizzly Bear blueprint, and sounds like something conceived and nurtured in the shadow of the Catskill Mountains rather than the Pentlands. It is a bleak and rather foreboding musical landscape, with beautifully restrained tunes like Black Forest suggesting some kind of tangled intrigue. The tone of the record is one of suppression, with song titles such as Sequestered and Fortress full of a controlled resentment, while Firelight Acolyte Diorama is wordplay for its own sake. But perhaps The Furious Sound’s greatest strength is creating a concept for an album that defies any real definition.

Colin Somerville

Download this: This Great Generation, Backroads, Black Forest