The Scotsman Sessions #414: Afterlands with Jill Lorean

Welcome to the Scotsman Sessions, a series of short video performances from artists all around the country introduced by our critics. This week, Rick Anthony and Dave McAulay of Afterlands perform their track Ghosthouse with guest vocals from Jill Lorean

Afterlands is a new collaboration between Phantom Band frontman Rick Anthony, who also records solo as Rick Redbeard, and David McAulay of Strike the Colours, birthed during lockdown by two friends who first met in the late Noughties when The Phantom Band were recording their second album, The Wants, at Chem19 studios, where McAulay worked as an engineer.

Their paths crossed again when they were both studying for a Masters at Glasgow School of Art. The pair collaborated on art projects and on the music for 2021 documentary Prince of Muck, before Afterlands started to take shape remotely in the early days of lockdown. McAulay, who has a background in soundtrack work, including Virginia Heath’s From Scotland With Love, would finesse Anthony’s song sketches, while Anthony would add vocals to McAulay’s instrumental ideas.

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“It developed pretty organically,” says Anthony. “As we became able to get in a room together and as more folk started getting involved, it pulled the material in certain directions that were maybe less predictable and more interesting than might have been the case otherwise.”

Afterlands with Jill LoreanAfterlands with Jill Lorean
Afterlands with Jill Lorean

The guest list on their album, We Are Animals In the Night, includes such contemporary luminaries as Chvrches drummer Johnny Scott, Admiral Fallow’s Kev Brolly on woodwind, Joe Smillie and Pete Harvey of Modern Studies and Jill O’Sullivan, aka Jill Lorean, who sings guest vocals on their Scotsman Session rendition of album track Ghosthouse. “It's a semi-romantic gothic country ballad that appears to be set against a backdrop of some kind of unspecified apocalyptic event,” says Anthony. “Possibly with ghosts.”

Their performance was filmed in the Pianodrome, a favourite Fringe pop-up venue of recent years, fashioned entirely from upcycled pianos. “It was such a fantastic space to get to use,” says Anthony. “It's currently situated in a really large warehouse in Leith and we were made to feel very welcome with hot soup, a fire and a really friendly dog who loved playing catch. It was a little cold as evidenced on the visible breath on the session video. It was also an opportunity to all be in a room playing together – something we hadn't actually managed properly during the writing/recording of the album.”

Some of the material on We Are Animals In The Night is almost hymnal in flavour. “There has been a lot of change and turmoil throughout the four years since we started it, both personally for us, and obviously globally too, and the resulting record will always be a kind of reminder to us of this particular and particularly strange period of time,” says Anthony. ‘We hope others will just be able to enjoy it for what it is. Whatever it is.”

We Are Animals in the Night is out now on Lost Map Records

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