Review: The First Tree

Of the more experimental games to come out of the independent scene in recent years, many have a distinctly dream-like quality. Think big, empty environments rendered in striking colours, with horizons which seem to stretch into infinity. The otherworldly places in games like Journey, Proteus, Rain, House, Eternity and Eidolon have the feeling of expressionist paintings that you can visit, and you often awaken in these worlds with little idea of how you got there or what it is you’re there to do. Curiosity takes hold, and you find yourself drifting through these places as a dreamer might, exploring and observing slowly and thoughtfully, taking meaning where you can.  

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Review: LCD Soundsystem

James Murphy only makes big statements. Even the tiny minority of LCD Soundsystem songs that run less than five minutes long are dense with drama. Movement, the shortest track in the band’s catalogue, compensates for its more conventional runtime with a maelstrom climax that hits you like a cricket ball to the cranium. He is a man, and they are a band, for whom half measures are inconceivable. There are no filler tracks on LCD Soundsystem records, just as there are no raw sounds; every hi-hat snap, every keyboard bloop undergoes tireless processing, usually involving filters and generous decays.

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Review: Electric Fields

More field than Fields, Dumfriesshire’s two-day music and arts shinding was unquestionably a humble affair. But while the “arena” at Electric Fields, which was situated at the foot of Drumlanrig Castle, perhaps felt more akin to a country fayre than the grounds of premiere music festival (a tent offering introductory workshops on baking sourdough probably reinforced that impression somewhat) the line-up at  Electric Fields was anything but quaint.

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Review: Mac DeMarco

The house lights are up and a hundred or so kids dressed in second-hand clothes and skateboard trainers, ages ranging from late teens to late twenties, are hunkered down on the floorboards of the Usher Hall. Mac DeMarco, shirtless and laminated in sweat, is collapsed on the lip of the stage singing them a ballad about his estranged father. In the fenced-off trench between him and them, and dotted all around the venue, are event staff who stride and gesticulate while fast-muttering into their earpieces.

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Review: SOUNDING: Modern Studies, Lomond Campbell and Pumpkinseed Chamber Orchestra, Fringe 2017

It’s appropriate that the casual stride down from the city centre to Stockbridge Parish Church on this late summer evening, trees casting long, still shadows in the warm evening light, feels like a slow descent into another world. SOUNDING, the ambitious double-bill concert conceived by Modern Studies and Lomond Campbell especially for the Made in Scotland showcase at this year’s festival, is nothing short of transportative. Performing with the Pumpkinseed Chamber Orchestra, even a church seems too humble a venue for the extravagant, entrancing sounds that the two acts conjure this evening. It’s an event at once grand and candid, the cross-pollination between personnel (Studies’ drummer Joe Smillie lends his sticks to a couple of Campbell tracks, while the distinction between Modern Studies’ and the Pumpkinseed Orchestra’s line-ups is fuzzy at best) lending the performance a familial air that belies its scope  and professionalism.

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