“I was touring the UK with King Creosote amidst the Covid-19 outbreak,” explains Lomond “Ziggy” Campbell, of perhaps the strangest tour of his life. “We watched the story unfurl as we went. It’s maybe the only tour I’ve been on where a packed music venue made everyone panic. When I left home the term social distancing hadn’t even been uttered. When I returned home two weeks later I had to self-isolate for fear of contamination.”
Lucky for Campbell – a member of cult Edinburgh art-pop band FOUND, who released his magnificent debut solo album Black River Promise on Heavenly Records in 2017 – his Highland house at Achaphubuil overlooking Loch Linnhe opposite Fort William isn’t the worst place in the world to have to had to hole up for a fortnight. The former 1960s primary school was bought in derelict condition by Campbell and his partner Susie in 2014, before they undertook a painstaking labour of love renovating and converting it by hand into a modernist house, studio and B’n’B which they’ve named The Lengths. It’s where Campbell sat down at a keyboard last week to record a very special performance for the Scotsman Sessions of a new, as yet unreleased song called Fader Down. “I actually just finished writing it,” Campbell reveals, “I had to have the lyrics just out of shot as a prompt.”
It came as part of a flurry of creativity while Campbell was in quarantine. While playing with the King Creosote band he had been on modular synth duties and had built a patch – a unique suite of synth sounds – specifically for the tour. During isolation, Campbell decided to do some recordings with the patch before dismantling it, never to be replicated again. The sessions became an impromptu EP, Lost Bleeps From a Lone Highland Beacon – an atmospheric set of six looping, droning, oscillating and agitating electronic instrumentals that convey some of the restlessness, disquiet and alienation he must have felt back home on lockdown at the end of an anxious circuit of the country.
While Fader Down may be of the same synth’n’drum machine sound world as the EP tracks – distinct from the rich acoustic warmth of Black River Promise – it makes for a satisfyingly human antidote to all the machine music unease; a reassuring elbow-bump of a song, in the rising chorus of which Campbell conjures a scene of delicate co-dependence. “You’re the bird that pecks the teeth,” he sings, “I lay sleeping underneath”. The lone Highland beacon burns bright.
Lost Bleeps from a Lone Highland Beacon is available to download now at lomondcampbell.bandcamp.com