Music review: Pictish Trail

If it really was the end of the world, Johnny Lynch would be one of the high priests you'd want to be administering your last rites. 'There was a lot of death destruction and weirdness in the last year, but there'll be a lot to look forward to this year,' he enthused gleefully, looking like a hipster Scots Sun-Ra in reflective robes, fluorescent face paint and a thick beard. Lynch and his music are a nice balance to what's going on out there.
Johnny Lynch (aka Pictish Trail )Johnny Lynch (aka Pictish Trail )
Johnny Lynch (aka Pictish Trail )

Pictish Trail ****

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Formerly of Anstruther’s Fence Records and now boss of his own, Isle of Eigg-based Lost Map label, Lynch’s music has matured over the years from an eclectic repertoire of folksy electro-indie. His latest album, last year’s Future Echoes, may not be his most pop-focused record, but it’s arguably his most satisfying: at this Celtic Connections concert he and his band, playing electric and electronic instruments, dedicated three-quarters of the 12-song set to its intricate and expansive space psychedelia.

Half Life was a lengthy, echoing groove built on a menacing electronic string riff and Lynch’s eternally boyish holler; Dead Connection was a shuffling, resolutely catchy piece of 80s-influenced synth-pop; Far Gone (Don’t Leave), a sinister groove built around a hip-hop beat and the backing vocals of the Wives of Christ, a group formed of members of Kid Canaveral and Eagleowl wearing nun’s habits. The long-standing, melancholy Pictish folk-pop groove Winter Home Disco was dropped mid-set, with the encore formed of clubby electro-pop beats After Life and Brow Beaten. Through the jokes, Lynch has become an artist of formidable ability.

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