Scotland’s burgeoning musical future has two crucial components: the talented emerging artists, and the forward-thinking independent record labels which nurture them. The Pictish Trail, rigorously maintained pseudonym of entrepreneurial Fifer Johnny Lynch, is of that rare breed who can claim to have a foot in both camps.
In his capacity as musician, Lynch now also comprises one half of electronic duo Silver Columns, who attracted early attention late last year thanks to their anonymity and a trickle of enigmatic tracks that whipped bloggers into a frenzy of excitable speculation.
Meanwhile, along with fellow alibi enthusiast King Creosote, Lynch helps manage the much-loved Fence Records, coordinators of the recent Homegame festival (where Silver Columns made a triumphant live debut) and champions of the likes of UtR favourites Withered Hand, eagleowl and Meursault.
“When I joined Fence Records full time, in 2003, my main objective was to promote my own music,” says Lynch, when asked about the relationship between label boss and musician. “Each member of the Collective has their own solo project, and their respective success is entirely dependent on how much effort they, as individuals, put into it.”
Early glimpses into Silver Columns’ repertoire are indicative of such an effort. Pulsating space organs and breathy call-and-response vocals, respectively recalling the Klaxons and Talking Heads, characterise new single ‘Cavalier’, while the deliciously over-produced drum rolls that feature prominently on acclaimed debut cut ‘Brow Beaten’ are reminiscent of early arcade racing games.
Although Lynch's other unmasked band mate Adem is “a massive fan of the mid/late nineties UK garage sound”, the duo’s inspiration derives largely from sources closer to home: “I’d say our music has been informed by the music our friends make," says Lynch. "That’s always a predominant influence on any musician whether they care to admit it or not.”
Beyond the fraternity of the Fence Collective, Silver Columns certainly have the connections to expand outside the Scottish perimeter that can often smother domestic talent: “Down in London we’ve a network of friends – Caribou, Hot Chip, Four Tet, The Memory Band – who have been supportive of our music.”
We’ll have to wait until the release of their first album Yes, and Dance in May to see if Silver Columns can fulfil their early promise and join the ranks of such esteemed company. But the odds are getting shorter by the day.
Words: Dan Moss
‘Yes, and Dance’ is released on the Moshi Moshi label on 24 May. The first track, ‘Cavalier’, is available to buy from 19 Apr.
To date, all upcoming Silver Columns shows are in London. Check their MySpace for details.
It was looking like it might never happen, but finally we have recorded our first podcast of 2010.
Two months away from the microphone has rendered some of our chat slightly nonsensical (what's new?), but the standard of music on this podcast is probably the best so far...
We were fans of The Japanese War Effort from the first time we saw him play at the erstwhile Bowery venue last year, and we open on 'Usain Bolt', taken from his new LP, I Will Leave You Now, And Two Loudspeakers Will Take My Place. The fastest man alive should be proud.
Another act to have graced this blog are The Unwinding Hours, the new band comprising one half of Aereogramme, and from their self-titled debut album we've chosen the spine-tinglingly epic 'Tightrope'.
We also turn our attention to this weekend's main event, the Fence Collective's annual Homegame festival in Anstruther, Fife. In anticipation of three days and nights of crammed pubs, fish suppers and maybe even the odd bit of music, we've got tracks from a trio of acts on this year's bill: Django Django, Findo Gask and Silver Columns.
And that's not all. There's more tuneage from the sickeningly talented Miaoux Miaoux and the ethereal Call To Mind (both of whom have new EPs on the way), as well as the obligatory 6 Music post-match analysis.
Hope you enjoy, and, as ever, let us know what you think below...
Play: Podcast #7
Running order: 00:00: The Japanese War Effort - Usain Bolt 04:04: The Unwinding Hours - Tightrope 08:58: Django Django - Storm 14:59: Findo Gask - Va Va Va 18:42: Silver Columns - Brow Beaten 25:10: Miaoux Miaoux - Dream On 34:02: Call To Mind - Breathe Pt. 1
Newsbits: From 'Scottish krautrock' to Tweet music
[Mitchell Museum: set to entertain the Twitterers of Edinburgh]
Tweet music The Edinburgh Twestival, the capital's meet-up for those who prefer to live their life in 140 characters, has unveiled its musical line-up. Glasgow's madcap experimentalists Mitchell Museum and new Edinburgh outfit Pose Victorious will entertain the iPhone-clutching audience, with DJ sets from George Wallace and members of Idlewild. It takes place on Thursday 25 March at the new Ghillie Dhu venue in the west end of the city. More acts are expected to be announced this week.
And in case you didn't already know, the generous Mitchell Museum are giving away their new EP We Lost First Prize on their new website.
Frabbits burrow through blogosphere Frightened Rabbit's third album The Winter of Mixed Drinks was unveiled to the world last week, and we've been interested in the way it's been received outside Scotland's cosy bosom. For instance, self-styled Twitter reviewer (and respected rock critic too, it has to be said) Chris Weingarten, tweeted this on his @1000timesyes account: "Arcade Fire-ready hooks, given a lovely new life as Scottish krautrock.#7.5"
And since "Scottish krautrock" only returns 94 hits on Google, it looks as if we have a new genre on our hands.
In other FatCat news, the label's other Scottish high-fliers The Twilight Sad have been announced as main support for Biffy Clyro's UK tour next month, which includes a date at Perth on 29 April.
Silver Columns 'unmasked' Not since Burial's shadowy presence on the London dub scene has there been so much Guess Who?-style whisperings over an anonymous musician... Silver Columns set tongues a-wagging late last year with their slinky electro beats lighting up Hype Machine's blog barometer. But in case you didn't hear via Twitter, the protagonists behind the project are none other than Fence Collective co-founder Johnny "The Pictish Trail" Lynch and Adem, the man behind the Takes covers album.
The duo have an upcoming 12" single called 'Cavalier' that's due out on 19 April via Moshi Moshi, and with both halves playing Fence Homegame this weekend, we're hoping for an impromptu show in Anstruther.
Peter Bjorn & John - It Don't Move Me (Silver Columns remix)
Belle & Sebastian set for return Scots twee-pop legends Belle & Sebastian are set to return from their very long hiatus. In a message sent out to their mailing list, the band said that they have been writing new songs in Glasgow recently and are about to head to Los Angeles to record a new album. But if you want to see them live this summer, you'll have to travel, as the only festival dates announced so far are in Scandinavia and Japan - although more could well be added.
Back to the Futureheads The Futureheads, the forgotten-but-not-gone Sunderland outfit that once broached the Top 40’s upper echelons with a Kate Bush cover will headline The Mills’ (sort of) two-year birthday bash in Glasgow. The shindig takes place in Oran Mor on Thursday, 29 April, with local tune-churners Lions.Chase.Tigers and Admiral Fallow propping up the bill. In just a couple of years The Mill has seen over 200 acts playing stages in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Given how little most of us achieve in our early years – being unable able to go to the bathroom independent of Pampers Ultra and having no vocabulary beyond ‘waaah’ –it’s an impressive feat. Tickets for the night are £5 and can be found here.
Making Tracks The good people at TenTracks have launched yet more luscious bundles of music for your listening pleasure. For just a pound you can hear ten specially selected tracks (there’s no subtlety in the name, is there?) from Leith Records that includes such esteemed acts as Over the Wall, the 10:04’s and Come On Gang. For another 100 pence you can own a tasty selection of cuts from last month’s wonderful Hidden Door festival, that includes a ‘hidden mic’ piece composed of conversational clips taken throughout the day.
Meursault? More so Can’t wait until 24 May to get your paws on Meursault’s new longplayer All Creatures Will Make Merry? Well, if you’re attending the launch nights in Glasgow (Captain’s Rest, 7 Apr) or Edinburgh (Cabaret Voltaire, 10 Apr) you’ll be able pick up a sneaky limited edition pre-launch copy if you pre-order at Song By Toad records here. Based on the band’s recent live excursions with Xiu Xiu, ACWMM (how’s that for an acronym...) looks set to be more volumised than Pissing on Bonfires..., with frontman Neil Pennycook describing the sound as ‘epic lo-fi’, which strikes us a bit of an oxymoron. Anyway, on the back of the new album the Auld Reekie quintet will be jetsetting around Europe in the hope of finally getting the acclaim the deserve.
Mark Linkous RIP In much, much more sombre news, acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Mark Linkous committed suicide on Saturday. As the man behind the wonderful Sparklehorse, Linkous released four albums of extraordinary psych-folk. He also produced Daniel Johnston’s 2003 album Fear Yourself and collaborated with Danger Mouse on Dark Night of the Soul. A statement from Linkous’ family said: “It is with great sadness that we share the news that our dear friend and family member, Mark Linkous, took his own life today. We are thankful for his time with us and will hold him forever in our hearts. May his journey be peaceful, happy and free. There’s a heaven and there’s a star for you.” A tragically depressing day for music.