Scotland - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 24 - 10/05/98
Music as Art Form
Edinburgh's well known for its Arts festival - you've heard of the Festival
I'm sure, which encompasses both the International 'Official' Festival plus
the Fringe, best known for stand-up comedy. So it's odd that music, at
least, rock music, has never capitalised until recently on the massive
influx of visitors to the city during this period. Until a couple of years
ago, that was, when a bunch of chancers loosely associated with the Cas
Rock venue, local band PoliceCat and Human Condition Records
decided to take matters into their own hands. Planet Pop has now been running for 3
years and increased in size and stature, attracting the likes of
Sleater-Kinney and Comet Gain to perform alongside local stars such as
Idlewild and the Pastels. Other people have spotted the success of Planet Pop
and brought other alternative music to the capital - last year the Flux mini-festival
persuaded the Divine Comedy to duet with Michael Nyman, and this year saw
similar unusual collaborations, such as Spiritualised teaming up with Steve
Marland and Nick Cave backed by The Dirty Three. Also on the agenda was
the Serge Gainsborough tribute, which as well as sundry BMX Banditeers and
members of Teenage Fanclub, also saw Belle and Sebastian turning up as
surprise guests to pay tribute to their favourite Frenchman.
The 'festival' is now almost a Scottish trait, with other cities such as
Aberdeen (who to be fair have hosted an annual alternative festival for some
years) having one coming up soon, while East Kilbride, not known in the
same international terms as the other cities, somehow has enticed Scanner
across the water to do a show with Future Pilot AKA, as well as the usual
workshops, seminars that you usually associate with such an event.
You might be surprised to learn that Scotland, with all this activity, has
no alternative radio station (and only 2 hours national indie music
available to the public). You might also have learned of the takeover of
London's music station Xfm by Capital and its subsequent about-face to what
amounts to chart music. This is bad news for Scotland, as previously
reported, the Central Scottish radio licence is open, and the likes of Alan
McGee and his station The Hub won't want those making the decision of who
should get the franchise to think that indie music radio can't survive.
"They've jeopardised my bid" said McGee of Capital's move. And the 3 other
indie bids too.
Anyway, with live duties over for the time being (despite the 10 Day
Weekend's ploughing on with another months worth of events including
bringing Alex Chilton and Chip Taylor to town), the bands etc. can get back
to the usual business of releasing records. Arab Strap will this month
have their final release on Chemikal Underground before they depart for the
richer pastures of GoBeat, a for me disappointing remix of Soaps, and The
Delgados put out another single from Peleton - The Weaker Argument.
Brand new from the label is Magoo's Swiss Border Escape, with a new album to
follow. The new Belle and Sebastian album will also follow in mid-September, but to
no avail, as the album of the year, barring a miracle, is Animals and Me by
Spare Snare. With a lot of engineering done by Paul Savage from the Delgados at the
CU studios, it's a much cleaner album than their previous works but still retains the
excellent songwriting you'd expect. Few songs last more than a couple of minutes, the band
favouring the technique of establishing a hook then rather than doing it to
death, leaving you wanting to hear more. I haven't tired of this album over
the dozen or so listens I've already given it.
Despite this peak arriving rather early in the year, we'll be back next month to
see if we can find any contenders for runner-up.
Copyright © 1998 Stuart McHugh