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Great music from the forth valley

Constant Follower release debut LP

One of the best bands to emerge from the Forth Valley release their stunning debut LP.

Artwork for Constant Follower LP Neither Is, Nor Ever Was

Constant Follower. Neither Is, Nor Ever Was

Vinyl, DL, Stream Bandcamp

At time of writing available at:

Avalanche Edinburgh

Low Port Music Linlithgow to name just two.

Over the last five years or so, Constant Follower have carefully navigated their way to this moment, the release of their debut album.

I caught them a few years back at the Mediterranea in Stirling. My phoned pinged with a message from Kenny Bates, an ever present force within the Stirling scene and a prominent member of the excellent Death Collective. He believed he was breaking an (self-inflicted) oath never to be a ‘spam guy’ by sending messages advertising the fund raiser gig.

I am glad he did. 

Several brilliant acts played that night; it was then I first heard Constant Follower. It was a stunning set, I wandered over to the merch stall and purchased the ‘Gentle Teachings EP’, packaged in a neat little envelope with a download code inside it. I couldn’t stop listening to the ‘Gentle Teachings’ EP (When Weird Decibels were in the borders recording ‘February’ I took a wee walk out into the starry sky listening to Gentle Teachings, it’s a moment I won’t forget.)

It feels like every note on ‘Neither is Nor Ever Was’ is carefully considered, the tones swathe into a canvas of warm autumnal colours. Serval spins of the vinyl unravel subtle notes, neatly panned left and right. The keys and backing vocals provide a light, ethereal air to McAll’s gentle vocals. Indeed, there are many musicians on this record that add depth to the album.

There are few bands that can master subtle long held notes (Low spring to mind), few bands are comfortable giving their songs space and time. It’s incredibly tempting to fill the gaps. Constant Follower leave the notes ringing, and as one sound fades, another tone gently enters the field, Kurds playing throughout is precise but natural, his guitar adding brightness to the record.

The album starts with a sway, ‘I Can’t Wake You’ starts gently before the emotive weight builds from the second verse. Synths and keys fly upon the mix. It’s so well structured.

‘Merry Dancers on Tv’ is uplifting, the guitars and keys waltz as McAll observes “this thing is real, its blackened broke and dying”, the best artists always find a balance between dark and light.

Then there is ‘Altona’ a track that cleverly signals the end of the first act. One Word Away is beautiful, it’s impossible not to be lifted by the swelling chorus. WEICHA closes, offering new textures and perhaps a hint to where the band will go from here. I always love tracks that are off centre, landscapes of audio that transport you from the space in which you are listening. As an album it feels complete; it needs to be heard in its entirety.

‘Neither Is, Nor Ever Was.’ is a record of incredible warmth and balance. It helps close the door on the white noise that surrounds modern life. The band have (rightly) had plaudits from a wide range of critics from the national press, I hope they stay with the band in this industry of short attention.

My words may not have the weight of the press, but as a listener, I urge you to buy this record. It will spin on my turntable every time I wish to find a wee bit peace or perhaps, during the longer nights, a bit of solace. 

Pabs

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The Death Collective. Fund raiser gig.

 

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It was a slightly fresh April night to be heading out to Stirling, however there was a promising gig organised by the Death Collective, a small collective of musicians supporting each other as a platform for releasing quirky left field music.

After a brisk five minute walk from the station we arrived at the Mediterranea restaurant.

At the back of the diner, nestled downstairs, is a beautiful wee space for small acts to play. Through the windows at the back of the stage the world flies past, speeding trains on the Dunblane line, police cars rushing past on the Stirling A9, lights flashing blue; this was a distinct contrast to the relaxed vibe that greeted the gathering crowd.

Kenny Bates was on the door collecting donations that would go towards the Death Collectives own PA, which would allow them to start organizing more gigs for touring acts and musicians a little closer to home. Kenny was as chilled out as ever but he appears to be one of the driving forces behind the collective, through Leftfield and later Quitter he has toured Europe and played at gatherings similar to this.

Thurmpy was up first, playing alongside Peter Russell on the clarinet, he played a number of enjoyable songs interlaced with some humorous exchanges with some of his fellow collective attendees.

Next up three musicians took their seats under the colourful spotlights and subtle lighting. They tuned up, checked the mics and plugged in the snyths. There was a quick soundcheck as the growing audience breezily chatted, greeted each other and ordered drinks. Constant Follower, now content with their sound, started to play, the audience fell silent, except for the non intrusive, distant clatter of dinners and the till ringing (it reminded me of feel of First Watch, a track from Diamond Mine by King Creosote and Jon Hopkins). They played  beautiful measured music in the ilk of Bon Iver’s early work and the slowcore of Low. Their subtle tones layered over some slick guitar and soft baritone vocals was mesmerizing, the audience was captivated.

3rd up Scott William Urquhart reminded me of RM Hubbert, he played a number of excellent  compositions. Hamish McBurney followed, passionately sharing some deeply personal lyrics, it was a strong performance.

Sadly, the need to catch the last train home put paid to any hopes of seeing Quitter, so reluctantly we headed back out into the cold Stirling night, a world away from the atmosphere we had just left behind.  

It was a fantastic event, many genres of music, acts I’ve discovered and a brilliant vibe. I wish the Death Collective every success, more nights like these will be great for Stirling’s scene.

Pabs