Glasgow: home of Joseph Lister (pioneer of antiseptic surgery), European Capital of Culture 1990, and – far more importantly – home to Herb Records, a wonderful little independent label, tonight showcasing three of its acts in a hometown setting.
An intimate basement venue proves a fitting location for the event, kicked off by Solipsism, aka label boss Craig Murphy. Solipsism’s set provides a blissed-out start to the night, overflowing with rich, ambient techno and gently psychedelic electronica, but also with enough beats and bite to keep things lively when needed.
Experimental duo Pumajaw follow-up, with singer Pinkie Maclure’s haunting vocals providing a melodic, smoky quality to the minimal beats, guitar and synth chords of John Wills. The addition of an accordion, again from Pinkie, also gives their sound a drone-ish, shoegaze quality, making for a nostalgic, trippy performance that hits somewhere between instrumental electronica (there are also several blasts of hectic 808 electro which melt back into mellower tones) and a mildly gothic Velvet Underground. It’s an intoxicating mixture.
Alan McNeill’s Engine7 then provide a big finish to the night. Performing as a full band in a live setting (as opposed to McNeill’s solo recorded work under the name), Engine7 blend big walls of distorted guitars with a gentler post-rock ethos, also incorporating a significant electronic side from McNeill’s live production. Elements of Múm and Explosions in the Sky are brought to mind, but with a nicely darker vibe. A new track, ‘All That I Wanted’ is one of many highlights, combining jittery electronics, heavy percussion and silky female vocals.
Tonight, then, is an excellent reminder of how important smaller, independent record labels can be, and also the amount of hidden talent that resides on such labels. Marvellous stuff from Herb.
Words by Tristan Parker