Sunday 10 and Monday 11 December see the launch of a new choral force on
the Scottish music scene. An offshoot of the Scottish Ensemble, the Scottish
Ensemble Singers make their debut in a programme also featuring cellists Paul and Maud Tortelier. Repertoire on this first appearance is restricted to Mosart’s Ave Verum and the premiere of M. Tortelier’s Toward’s Peace, but the Scottish Ensemble‘s General " Administrator, Boger Pollen, has plans to develop the group further. ‘It is a permanent choir,‘ he says, ‘and will also work with us in January in a more substantial programme including some Purcell and Vivaldi’s Gloria, and I hope eventually to be using the singers on ourtouring concerts throughout Scotland, possible with a chamber-sized version of the Messiah, as well as in the regular season.’ With only tourteen voices, this should not prove insurmountable, but the thorny old problem of finance does intrude. ‘The intention is to use all Scottish based semi-professional singers. We’re not actually able to pay them this time, but we are trying to turn it into a fully professional choir. There's a lot going on within the ensemble to create funding, such as sponsorship, increased box oftice, and merchandise.‘ Pollen, however, feels the singers won’t mind. ‘The Scottish Ensemble and Jonathan Bees are playing very well just now and this is a chance for the choir to be an extension of the playing group, responding and working as the instrumentalists.’ Even though there are several good amateur/semi-professionaI choirs around, this new venture somehow seems a logical step for the Scottish Ensemble and, as Pollen says, ‘I think there’s room for it.’ (Carol Main) Scottish Ensemble/Scottish Ensemble Singers, Sun 10, 2.30pm Dueen’s Hall , Edinburgh and Mon11, 7.30pm, BSAMD, Glasgow.
ROCK 23 JAZZ 37 FOLK 39 CLASSICAL 40
The sound of silence
This year has seen the rise of the Scottish ‘commercial band‘ both in terms of status and in the all-important record sales. One such band with a lot to shout about are The Silencers, currently riding the crest oi a wave with the success oi their ‘difficult’ second album Blues For Buddha, and a recent world tour with ex-school chums and stadium-packers Simple Minds. Singer and lyricistJimmie O’Neill is understandably delighted.
‘Amazing! It was really brilliant playing with Simple Minds, really big audiences, and the reaction was wonderful. We‘ve been everywhere
and some of the places were really beautiful, especially Europe. Magic!‘ Yes, Jimmie is somewhat chuffed, and clearly not worried about playing vast arenas and losing that all-important small venue intimacy: ’Well, since we played The Fixx in
; Glasgow years ago people have been
calling us a stadium rock band. And besides, the band sound good in wide open spaces. But we haven’t really
played the small clubs fora long time, so now that we‘ve played to so many people who wanted to see Simple Minds we want to go out and play to the people who want to see us.’
The only problem forThe Silencers at present seems to be their record companies refusal to release Bazorblades Of Love, the proposed new single. ‘They said it wouldn’t get airplay because of the dark side to it,’ says Jimmie. ‘I suppose that it could be seen as a suicide reference, but the record company were thinking in terms of drugs.’
The single will, however, be released in Europe and America, where the band will be travelling in February to promote the album. And then . . . ‘Well, you know, into the studio to record the new LP and hopefully have it out and gigging for the summer.’ (Keiron Mellotte)
- The Silencers play Barrowlands on 3 Saturday 16 December and Edinburgh
Network on Monday 18 December.
‘It’s totally irrelevant for all these people to say—we don‘t have to appeal to people because we’re alternative.‘ Strong words they may be, but they're also totally in character. Fjaere Nilssen is clearly someone who has a clear vision of her songwriting ability and its appeal
After six months of playing her blues and country-influenced work around Edinburgh, both solo and with her band The Refugees, a visit to the renowned Acoustic Room at London’s Mean Fiddlerwas a real eye-opener: ‘I just felt that there was no venue here in Edinburgh for more intimate and less abrasive folk-based music.’ And so Fjaere took it upon herself to approach the management of L‘Ddeon cafe-bar on George IV Bridge, to suggest having a regular evening of acoustic music. The emphasis would be on giving new singer-songwriters their first experience of live performance.
So, from now on Fridays at L’Ddeon will see Fjaere and her partner Calais
! Brown playing live and introducing as I much new talent as possible. The
Q description she uses is ‘alternative
acoustic music‘, and the projected audience is unashamedly early or late twenties, those people Fjaere maintains are ‘left outside popular
The phenomenon of the female singer/songwriter is one of the more interesting aspects of popular music in I the last few years. The style has ! become very much a vehicle for feminist expression, yet Fjaere doesn‘t see the gender element as that significant. ‘For me it’s a question of quality rather than sex. But of course women who aren’t Kylie Minogue or [ Wendy James have to find a niche for ‘ themselves.’
Given the current (somewhat surprising) success of Chapman, Shocked et al., the climate does seem encouraging forfemale singers. In fact, it could be said that there is a commercial fashionability for people like Fjaere . . . ‘Well, it’s ourculture now—we’re raised to buy and consume. All I’m aiming for is accesibility and support.’
Now that‘s not too much to ask for.
‘ (Dessie Fahy) y Acoustic nights at L‘Ddeon, every ; Friday, 9.30pm.
V ROCK KITCHENS 0F DISTINCTION r ‘
All the way from Tooting in South London. Kitchens Of Distinction. labelmates ofThe Sugarcubes and Edinburgh's Fini Tribe. have throughout 1989 proved to be one ofthe most exciting guitar bands around. Following on from the highly acclaimed 1988 single Prize. they released the even more wondrous The Third Time We Opened The Capsule and the album Love Is Hell. Comparisons with The Cocteau Twins. The Smiths and The Jesus and Mary Chain were appropriate — the effect is at times gentle and fragile. at others noisy and discordant. with lyrics that combined the confessional and the directly political. The fact that singer Patrick Fitzgerald is openly gay was also a major talking point. ‘That's been totally overdone.‘ he says, ‘because the press can't handle it. God knows why. The thing is 1 just write about the important thingsin my life. lfthere‘s a particularly strong emotion I want to express. like in Prize. the emotion comes across in the lyrics. The other two guys in the band don't give a toss what the lyrics are about as long as they’re good.‘ And Patrick‘s concerns are not just ones of sexuality: ‘It extends further than that as well. it‘s not just the gay thing. There‘s songs that are highly critical of the way society treats certain kinds ofdiseases. very positive ones about meditation and, on the new single, very positive about killing Margaret Thatcher.‘ Thankfully. the humour and self-depreciation that underlie the music prevent the lyrics from turning into yet another rant. The new single Elephantine displays all of Kitchens Of Distinction‘s winning aspects and bodes well for their new material in 1990. (James llaliburton) Kitchens ()f Distinction play Edinburgh Venue on Friday 8 December, and Conrad: Bay Hotel on Saturday 91)e(‘ember.
The List 8— 21 December 1989 29