Falkirk has some interesting creative exports if we consider it’s arts scene. Adam Stafford is no exception as his music touches upon the likes of Steve Reich, Ingram Marshall and Meredith Monk, but also rekindles my own personal enjoyment of Mike Oldfield’s building and layering. Releasing his new LP, Fire Behind The Curtain, an eight year labour of love, and significance, a documentation of a mental health struggle, this LP is frenetic, mystical, discordant and yet melodic at moments.
The album kicks off with the jaunty An Abacus Designed to Calculate Infinity, which with the addition of strings, gives the false illusion of serenity before the bass kicks in, an industrial thudding transforms the vibe of the track. Zero Disruption is a wonderfully emotive track, which not only allows me to reminisce about the likes of Tubular Bells with a similar cyclical noise, however with the culmination of Pete Harvey’s beautifully-composed strings, building and layering, constructing a cinematic foundation of noise, from the synthesizer to the strings, and what sounds like the a backing choir of harmonic vocals, there is much within this track, distracting and invasive. It very much reflects the disruption of noise when dealing with depression.
Penshaw Monument is astonishingly a ritual of chants and rhythms recorded in one live take, which builds to reach a psychedelic, orgasmic, euphoria of sounds. Sails Cutting Through The Night takes us cinematically on a voyage and this is where you could see similarities to Jonny Greenwood, Clint Mansell or some of the other more discordant score composers. Adam also contests toxic masculinity on Museum of Grinding Dicks, which is aurally sharp, suggestive of looming doom. This also lingers on Invade They Say Fine, which looks more closely at his own mental health.
The sigh of reliefs arrive as the arranged strings bless our ears. Tracks such as The Witch Hunt and River Search Into The Night, don’t have these lighter elements at the end of their tunnels unlike the likes of I’m You Last Week, which balances out the anxiety and perplexion these cyclical soundscapes often conjure up.
Concluding with I Dreamed I Was a Murderer I am personally taken back to a viewing of Lynne Ramsay’s latest film, a scuzz of noise, uncomfortably milling about like wasps, this track ends the album on a note that is evocative of Stafford’s work, deeply disturbing, disruptive and emotive noise.
Fire Behind The Curtain is out via Song By Toad on Friday 4th May. Adam performs in Summerhall tonight and Glasgow’s Hug and Pint tomorrow night.