Review: Eleanor Friedberger & Jennifer Castle

Our evening begins with touring support care of Canadian singer Jennifer Castle. Despite a contemporary sound on record, live and stripped-back these could be songs from any era, although perhaps most likely the early seventies. It’s a cold wet evening in Edinburgh, but we might be in a bohemian cafe in Greenwich Village. Castle’s delivery and country-folk-inflected guitar lulls us into her world, the songs frequently flowing into each other without pause. Audiences can get naturally chatty at the back when Sneaky Pete’s is full (tonight is a sold out show), but Castle effortlessly holds an already busy venue in an intimate hush.

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Review: On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

With On A Sunbeam (named after a Belle & Sebastian song), Walden has created an expansively imaginative universe with the “wow” level of a Hayao Miyazaki film, using it to frame a thoughtful and nuanced tale of romance, companionship and coming of age. It’s the sort of book which feels a little difficult to write about without spoiling any of the gradually unfolding wonder for any would-be reader. We discover this universe page by page, along with the protagonists, and it’s never less than a joy. At over five hundred pages, it’s a densely-packed book that allows for an indulgently slow read, but also has the page-turning pace of a good mystery – the sort of book where you’ll want to keep reading it straight through, but will also be reluctant to finish too soon.

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Review: Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin Perform Their Greatest Hits, Fringe 2018

There’s a palpable feeling of excitement in Summerhall’s Dissection Room. This gig is something of a coup, with Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin playing four of their six 2018 UK shows (the other two are in London) during the Edinburgh Festival, and the crowd is filled with giallo aficionados and zombiephiles eager to witness this legendary soundtrack composer live. The band enter the stage one by one, the applause gradually increasing, until Simonetti himself appears to roars of approval, smiling graciously. Simonetti perhaps doesn’t look quite how you might expect a composer of cult horror soundtracks to look, a little more like your cool, eccentric uncle, in colourful suit jacket and red-framed glasses. The rest of the band more than pick up the gothic slack however, with drummer Titta Tani and guitarist Bruno Previtali both dressed smart (metal) casual in all black, and bassist Cecilia Nappo, who presents a statuesque centre stage presence throughout, looking 100% rock in black crop top, hot pants and a wide studded belt. Simonetti positions himself amongst his huge bank of synthesizers at the left of the stage, obligatory devil-horn hand signs are flashed, and we’re ready to roll.

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Review: Jupiter Artland’s Romanti-Crash

I arrive at Jupiter Artland, the slightly otherworldly sculpture gardens and gallery a short ride outside of Edinburgh, having already missed four hours of the day’s programme. Romanti-Crash is a wedding-themed “sleepover” event of art, music, performance and workshops, with stages nestled around and about the immaculately-kept sculpted hills, mounds, pathways and pools of Charles Jencks’ landscape work Cells Of Life. I’ve never been here before, and walking down the long winding tree-lined road to the site (the sculpture gardens are part of a large private estate, owned by art philanthropists Nicky and Robert Wilson, who bought it in 1999, with the sculpture garden currently celebrating its tenth year as a public gallery), the sky is beginning to darken and a temporary deluge of rain and wind has replaced the earlier sunshine.

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