Crow Hill is a provocative development for Edinburgh based Meursault, as far as albums go. The band have taken the notion of a thoughtfully compiled self-released LP and considered this entirely, with the undertone of narrative. Crow Hill, a fictional location, is virtually where we end up, somewhere in the Dissection Room of Edinburgh’s Summerhall, as we ambitiously, intensely, wholeheartedly embrace this album and wonderous performance from the six piece. Around midnight, after an intriguing set from the dedicated Adam Stafford, Neil Pennycook and the band hit the stage with marvellous lighting, visually interesting and unorthodox instruments, an emotional consecutive list of songs from their most recent LP.
Contrary to Meursault’s recent tenth anniversary gig where the audience was elbow to elbow, it was evident, upon entering the venue, the 11pm mid-week start for this gig had wiped the floor of many that would conventionally make motions to be there. At least twice as many should have been in attendance, but had they, I guess the ambiance sought may have been lost, with the living room vibe quite clearly there, comfy sofas beside candle lit tables, tempting Fringe-goers and a dedicated core. The scene was set for an auditory journey.
Whilst the first track is an intro to our next hour and a half, the second, Strong Armed Son, is not only reminiscent of Bristolian’s, Portishead, but also indicative of the band’s change, and move towards a more experimental, avant-garde kind of record. With lyrics like “there you will stand victorious singing, people try to put us down,” it is contemplative against a rhythmic aural landscape. Jenifer is a short formidable listen, the discord suggestive of turmoil. The Unreliable Narrator is a more relaxed listen for the ears, telling the story of an unreliable narrator (from first person of course), “I’ve watched this town as it has changed, but if there is one thing I am sure of, is that I don’t care for it.” A synth-based track littered with samples and recordings of chatter about the States, we are given some context of this fictional town. The more melodic New Boy has more of an uplifting Tunng sound to it, as Neil sings lyrics such as, “I am ready for the rapture and for grave things to happen, I am primed and I am waiting.” Visually, I feel thrown into Lars von Trier’s Dogville, as we get a sense of the characters within this fabricated U.S. setting. Carry On, Carrion, has more of a typical Meursault sound to it, reminding us of who is performing, the more stripped down noise of the piano alongside the discord of Robyn Dawson’s violin, and a recording of what sounds like a train.
It’s immersive and ardent, the music often a brooding soundscape, which requires a little tearing to see beyond that, towards the magic. The band, Reuben, Fraser, Robyn, Jayson and Callum, all hit all the right chords, backing the daunting vocals of Neil’s rather wonderfully, concluding the set with no encore, the album has been played and Meursault once again remind us of their worthy place within Edinburgh’s thriving musical scene.
Photo courtesy of Laura Meek