FEATURE STATE OF THE ARTS“
TOMMY SMITH Saxophonist and composer Smith is still only in his mid-20s. but is already the greatest jazz player Scotland has yet produced (and we have had some good ones). Always a precociously gifted talent. he has added maturity and broadening musical horizons to his technical accomplishments. and has now shrugged off (or completely absorbed) the obvious influences of the likes ofJan Garbarek and Michael Brecker. to emerge with his own distinctive. powerful voice. His recent cliche-free sextet and quartet projects have revealed a cranking-up of both intensity and imagination in his playing and writing after a slightly fallow period. and anything now seems possible for him.
Martin Swan has created in his band Mouth Music a diverse grab-bag of organic rhythms and percussive clarity. We're talking wild. multi-ethnic terrain here. sparsely dotted with ancient tribal chants. futurist ambient cosmology. and a few sheep droppings. A lucky-bag that isjust as likely to recall starry-eyed Gaelic mystique as it is butt-shaking danceﬂt)<)r grooves. Mouth Music have come a long way since their first album and its slight tinkering with the hallowed precepts of folk and world music. Now it's all aboard the club- ceilidh express. a trip whose time has come.
TEENAGE FANOLUB Golden melodies in excelsis; self— effacing slackness in extremis. Not
perhaps a coupling to mark down in the I annals of compatibility. but Teenage Fanclub's synthesis of honeydew harmonies and unkempt guitar racket slips into the subconscious with the minimum of effort. Blighted by not- entirely-false comparisons with various guitar-toting dudes every time they release something new. the Fanclub's reaction is to shrug their shoulders and toast rock‘s rich tapestry. For a unit so creatively prolific (all four members are contributing tunesmiths) their third album seems a long time coming »- something to do with the travails of whittling down a shortlist of a squillion (or thereabouts) recorded tracks.
SIMON TROUMIRE The recent surge of interest in Scottish ‘ traditional music and dance has ' resulted in hundreds of young people taking up folk instruments at evening class and in community groups. There . are some who are already demonstrating tremendous expertise 7 and virtuosity yet are barely out of their teens. Bothwell fiddler John McCusker ‘joined the Battlefield Band straight ! from school and Martyn Bennett's : piping graces that Drambuie commercial while concertina player Simon Thoumire won the Radio 2 Young Folk musician award and released his Hootz.’ album a couple of 5 years ago. His exceptional fleet fingering and quixotic musical spirit will also be featured on a second album which he is currently putting together.
A raucous twist on the languid Neil Young-inspired guitar turns of many of Glasgow’s cuddliest musical practitioners. Thrum have genuine country rock roots in ex—Moni singer/guitarist Monica Queen and guitarist John Smillic. but rough up their rocksteady melodies with the obstreperous Pixies/Mary (‘hain influences bestowed by their rhythm section. Davids Gormley and
McGowan. Thrum know the value of an immediate pop tune but lay the foundations for longevity with their latent power. dynamic flourishes and stimulating live performances. A deal
with Fire Records should yield its first vinyl fruit by April.
Former Linwood car-worker turned literary lion. following the fairy-tale success of his first novel Swing
; Hummer Swing.’. winner last month of l the £22.50“ Whitbread Prize. While working at a variety of manual jobs.
I Torrington educated himself in
5 philosophy. languages and literature.
. embarking on the novel in 1960. A
; Joycean odyssey through the half—
; demolished Gorbals. it combines
Glaswegian patter. philosophical erudition. Hollywoodese and a wealth of warm observation into a rich verbal feast. at once an impassioned indictment of working-class oppression and a celebration of languages revitalising power. He is now compiling a collection of his short stories. with
another novel said to be in the pipeline.
THE TIME FREQUENCY
The Time Frequency. or T'l'F as they are known in rave parlance. are
i Scotland‘s foremost exponents of the
. techno. TFF mainstay Jon Campbell has a mission in life other than
: continuously thereby debunking the
colossus of subtlety that is ’ardeore
mutating his band into a Caledonian Devo — to exercise his vocal chords
myth that keyboard whines are guaranteed personality and opinion- free. With partners Kyle Ramsay and Paul lnglis he has fashioned Scotland‘s biggest-selling white label. the , ‘Futurama IiP'. and two Scottish chart- 3 toppers ‘Real Love‘ and ‘New 3 limotion‘. both jovial mainstream rave ' tracks. the latter clawing its way into the big boys‘ Top 40. proving they could possibly fill more than a phone box in lingland now.
Homage to a Flower Pot Loaf
Watt won the John Player/National Portrait Gallery's prestigious £l().()()() award in 1987 with a self-portrait which included a teacup perched on the top of her head. A more discreet 1 version of the teacup cropped up again. 3 to tabloid glee. in her commissioned I portrait of the Queen Mother. painted 9 while she was still at an school. Watt is refreshingly humorous in her portraits. which are often versions of herself and deliberately ambiguous. She prefers her subjects unadorned — even the Queen I Mother was persuaded to sit without hat and jewellery. Her first exhibition for two years takes place in London this summer.
The man who had the idea to put real life on the stage when he invited lidinburgh‘s down and outs to tell their stories in Glad. ended up establishing his own theatrical sub-genre with a succession of plays by the Grassmarket Project involving juvenile offenders. g the mentally unwell. professional strippers and the staff of a German theatre. Audiences are split over whether the results are fot‘mless voyeuristic exploitation or challengineg electric theatre. but either way. Weller stirs up much murky water and raises questions about society's relationship to its under-classes. He is currently working with fourteen Germans who‘ve been asked to imagine themselves as Hamlet and in the lidinburgh Fringe he'll be working with ()APs from Leith.
Wiszniewski's paintings were shown widely abroad before his first major Scottish show. at the Fruitmarket Gallery in l‘)‘)l. although. as one of the ‘Glasgow Boys'. he had previously been the subject ofenormous hype. His primary interest in swirling textures. remniscent of Van Gogh and Blake. inspired his many seductive images of. in his own words. ‘young poetic men lounging about'. In the last two years Wisznicwski has experimented with a series of neon works. the most recent of which. a set of fairy lights. replaceo Edinburgh‘s traditional decorations on Princes Street last Christmas -~ to a mixed reaction.
Reed player Karen. who studied in
- California with masterja/J.
composer/improviser Anthony Branxton. has recently been living in Paris while writing a huge score for an English National Opera production planned for next autumn. The commission is for an augmented orchestra and chorus with miners male voice choirs. Glen Miller-style swing band plus accordions and follows her choral work with harp and sax. Requiwnjhr Locker/ﬁe. which was performed at last year‘s lidinburgh Festival and broadcast on TV. But her all encompassing musical spirit is most at home in the explosive lidinburgh eight-piece Cauld Blast Orchestra which has has built an impressive reputation over the last couple of years playing jazz festivals. folk festival and as part of a recent Radio 3 festival of contemporary music.
Howling down from lnverness. the Highland folk ravers are
garnering a big following far from the Celtic heartland following the success of their two Phil Cunningham-produced albums Unleashed and The Chase. Now with a solid rock rhythm section overlaid by electric guitar. fiddle. pipes and whistle. the band has evolved over the last few years and is settling into the rigours of continual and transcontinental touring with ()rcadian Ivan Drever on guitar. cittern. vocals and songwriting duties. and Duncan Chisholm's fiery electric fiddle snapping at the crowd‘s heels.
15 The List 26 February—l 1 March 1993