Music review: Howlin’ Fringe Presents Future Echoes

Johnny Lynch, aka The Pictish Trail
Johnny Lynch, aka The Pictish Trail
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Two bright examples of DIY artistic localism in Scotland came together here for an all-day indoor mini-festival on a unique scale. Leith Theatre, on one hand, is arguably Edinburgh’s great lost cultural asset, and while the music here was all in the adjacent Thomas Morton Hall, it was the perfect site on which to host the Isle of Eigg-based Lost Map’s latest label revue.

Howlin’ Fringe Presents Future Echoes ****

Leith Theatre, Edinburgh

Label boss Johnny ‘Pictish Trail’ Lynch was launching his new album, also titled Future Echoes, and his full band show in the penultimate evening slot was a highlight; a dense and innovative set which stepped back from the template of wistful, folksy electro-pop Lynch has built up over his career and into a realm of sturdily grooving space-rock with a raw, emotional edge. Robed like a bearded Sun Ra, his excellent band featuring fellow Lost Map adventurers Suze Bear of Tuff Love and Monoganon (who had played his own set in a small upstairs room earlier).

The bill he and the rest of the Lost Map team had prepared for the day was rich in familiar faces – like Edinburgh’s Kid Canaveral, “the beating heart of Lost Map Records”, whose ability with a great pop song has matured in tandem with Lynch’s – and new signees Manuela, a collaboration between Manuela Gernedel and her husband, sometime Franz Ferdinand guitarist Nick McCarthy.

Meanwhile, headliners The Comet is Coming – surprise Mercury Prize nominees this year for their album Channel the Spirits – were a revelation, a London psych-jazz trio with their own love of Sun Ra and a style which noisily borrows from house music’s irresistible beat.