Music review: Sound of Yell, CCA, Glasgow

“If a sound engineer had an anxiety dream it would look like this,” said Stevie Jones with a smile in the direction of his own live sound technician and a gesture towards the seven-piece group of Glasgow luminaries surrounding him, whom he referred to as “the ludicrously talented musicians who indulge these madcap shenanigans”.

Stevie Jones of Sound of Yell

Sound of Yell, CCA, Glasgow ****  

The septet play violins, drums, harmonica, bass flute, shruti box and more, all led by Jones’ delicate and inventive acoustic guitar; at some points he played soft notes, at others he scratched the metal strings to create a rich and otherworldly sonic accompaniment.

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Gathered here to celebrate the imminent release of Sound of Yell’s second album Leapling on Glasgow’s resurgent Chemikal Underground label, the size of the ensemble and dense array of equipment laid out illustrated why their welcome live sets are a rarity.

With a long history embedded in the Glasgow music scene, most notably with his band El Hombre Trajeado, Jones knows a lot of talent to call upon. Soft, brush-laden drum parts were played by Alex Neilson of Alex Rex and formerly Trembling Bells; dreamily ethereal chromatic harmonica was deployed by Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson; Abby Vulliamy of National Jazz Trio of Scotland made her musical saw howl.

Taking the chance while they were all in one room, the group played Leapling in its entirety, including the flute-driven surge of Boneless One, the eerily discordant tones of Slice the Spray, set against Vikki Morton and Georgie White’s dreamily backgrounded vocals, and the mellow alternative folk of Halo Jones, named in honour of Alan Moore and Ian Gibson’s comic series.

Much like the few older songs (or “hits”, as Jones knowingly dubbed them) which closed the show, these unusual but gorgeously constructed compositions came fully and vividly to life when performed in person. David Pollock