m:— A day in the motor life
To slog or not to slog. that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to pay your dues and reap eventual rewards many years down the line after an adequate amount of toilet gigs. orjust step into a fully-formed hit machine and buckle under the first bit of pressure that comes along. that‘s the issue.
‘We have sloggcd undoubtedly.‘ says Matt Gilfeather. guitarist with Glaswegian quartet Motor Life Co. ‘lt's so hard to create and keep up an identity when you‘re slogging. But it feels like we are working towards something greater. anyway.‘
Ah. slogging with intent. But it can‘t be easy when every make-or-break London gig is beset by the Curse Of Motor Life Co.
‘At one gig these guys from a couple of record companies. a publishing company and a really ﬂash London manager came along.‘ recalls bassist Ben Ellis. ‘We werejust about to start. It was “one. two three —“ and all the power went off. It was like the Blitz.‘
But here‘s the rub. Two years ago Motor Life Co were a pretty darned competent melodic garage band in the post-Hiisker Dii vein. Now they have songs which don‘t hand you a map so you can see where they‘re going. ()ne of the extra tracks on their current single ‘Be A Hero‘. the aptly-named ‘Swerve. Then‘ betrays a love of cult DC serpentine rockers Shudder To Think. a band who like to take the scenic route to a song.
‘We feel like we‘ve got more personalin in our music now.‘ says Ellis. ‘When ljoined at first we were saying “we should be a pop group“. but now things crop up and we use them.‘
‘We love melody.’ says Gilfeather. ‘but it‘s great fun hiding it or putting it somewhere you wouldn‘t expect it. That‘s what we're experimenting with now. But we‘ll never lose touch with the pop songs because that‘s what we dance to at The Garage on a Tuesday night.‘ Zigazigahll (Fiona Shepherd) Molar Life Ca play The [31/1 Nate. Glasgmr. every Thursday in November: 'Be A Hem' is out now.
. i. i t Motor lite Co: on a highw t the 13th llote
unz— Jazz orbit
ilue and Cry: new grooves
‘Jazz within a structure’ is how Pat Kane describes the musical approach on llue and Cry’s JazzllotJazz album — easily their most sophisticated and high-powered venture into a jazz- intluenced orbit. It features stellar guests like Michael and Randy Brecker, Mike Stern, Danny Gottlieb and Tommy Smith.
‘linn wanted us to do a jazz album, and we started thinking about personnel,’ says Kane. ‘The British side was easy enough, then Gregory realised the Glasgow jazz festival was coming up, and the Breckers were both playing there. They were on Remote back in 1989, and they were
happy to come in. That created a kind at domino ettect, and Mike Stern then wanted to do it as well. Greg knew Danny from another project he had been involved in, so we basically just. decided to chance our arm, and the whole thing came together astonishingly easily.
‘I think it definitely has something to do with the character at the jazz testival itself. That accessibility is in the spirit ot the testival, with that whole late night blowing scene at the Marriott, and it was all very relaxed, with no clashing egos.’
The Kanes inherited an early interest in jazz from their tather, and later trom records, and they have dipped into the idiom betore.
‘lt’s an extension of things we have done on previous records,’ says Kane,
. ‘like working with the John llae . Collective and Richard Niles, or the
piano and vocal album, which was an attempt to do something in the style of the Tony Bennett/Bill Evans collaboration, but we decided just to go tor it this time.
‘I can’t remember ever enjoying myself as much on stage as I do with this band. We have always wanted a jazz element within a basic desire to communicate, and we’ve been able to re-work some at our earlier songs into the current teel tor the show, including ‘Violently’ and ‘labour (it love’, which I never thought I’d sing again in my entire lite, but ‘looking For linda’ - no! We’ve got some good covers as well, like a funky treatment at ‘Makin’ Whoopee’, or Prince’s ‘Sign 0’ The Times’ in a bebop version.’ (Kenny Mathieson) llue and Cry play Music Ilall, Aberdeen; Fri 6 Dec; City Ilall, Glasgow, Thurs 12 Dec; aueen’s'llall, Edinburgh, Fri 13 Dec; Dundee llep Theatre, Sun 15 Dec.
uni:— Dld dogs, new tricks
Sought-atter new kid on the block, Fraser Fitleld is among the finest of the younger crop ot very accomplished musicians emerging on the Scottish tolk scene. His talents on lowland bagpipes, soprano saxophone, wind synthesiser and whistle have been heard in Tannas, Wollstone - even in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Paragon Ensemble. A new duo with Gavin livingstone (called, guess what, Stonetield) is set to go; he continues to play in the Mick West Bend, and it all that isn’t enough, he’s now living a Dog’s lite.
Johnny llardie, tiddler with the renowned Aberdeen-based Gld Blind Dogs, takes a break trom the recording studio to explain the band’s expansion to a live-piece atter tour albums, and many years touring as a quartet. ‘We always were looking tor another melody instrument, and Fraser, though he’s been living down in Glasgow, is actually trom up our way, we all knew him, and we asked him to guest on the new album. Then
we played a tow gigs with him joining
in on some ot the sets, he slotted into the rest very quickly and it’s just sort ot happened. We’re all very happy about it.
‘He sticks to the lowland pipes with us, because they’re in a sociable key,
' and operate at a sociable volume. We
wouldn’t want to use the big pipes - we don’t use keyboards or a rock drum kit - essentially we want to keep the acoustic sound, and the bellows pipes are just right. Anyway, the band has been getting more and more into pipe tunes over the last few years. And although I never had much time tor the sax, I’m now a convert. The register of Fraser’s soprano goes wonderfully with our music.’
With an imminent Zimbabwean tour as guests at Bulawayo’s Black llmtolosi, reciprocating a musical partnership tormed at Aberdeen’s Alternative Music testival, and a clutch of European countries lined up tor the New Year, the [logs are certainly going to get enough exercise.
Glasgow has to wait for January’s Celtic Connections, but a Capital audience can hear the latest Canine incarnation on St Andrew’s light. (llonnan Chalmers)
Old Blind Dogs play Edinburgh Folk Festival ’s St Andrew’s Ilight Concert, Queen’s llall, Sat 30.
Galina Ustvolskaya: Shostakovlch’s favourite pupil
If Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust ( EC AT) can be relied upon for any one thing. it is to bring Scottish audiences the experience of music they have never heard before. This does. of course. often mean new commissions and their next concert, with the Chamber Group of Scotland directed by James MacMillan. fulfils this objective with the first performance of Amanda Collins‘ Breaking Up The Temporal Thread.
However. it is the older. Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya who is the less familiar name. Now aged 77. she is extremely reclusive. living like a hermit in St Petersburg and very rarely seen. Taught by Shostakovich — who seldom praised his students, but looked on Ustvolskaya as a favourite pupil and actually claimed to have been influenced by her — her music is. according to James MacMillan, ‘a complete revelation of a truly unique musical voice. She is an amazing composer.‘
The three pieces which ECAT presents are Dies Irae. Amen and Dana Mains I’aeem. religious titles being a common feature of her music. 'Her music is stark and visionary.‘ says MacMillan. ‘shocking in its bleakness and simplicity. profound and disturbing. It is music ofa deep spiritual asceticism. but unlike any of today‘s “faith minimalism".‘
Ustvolskaya herself desn'bes her music as ‘not religious in a liturgical sense. but it is infused with a religious spirit. and to my mind is best suited to performance in a church, without scholarly introductions and analyses. All who love my music should refrain from theoretical analysis of it‘.
With unusual scorings such as eight double basses. percussion and piano or piccolo. tuba and piano. it will certainly be worth exploring if Shostakovich was right when he said: ‘I am convinced that the music ofG. L. Ustvolskaya will achieve worldwide renown. to be valued by all who perceive truth in music to be of paramount importance.‘ (Carol Main)
If CAT presents the music of Galina Ustvolskaya. Greyfriars C hare/1. Edinburgh. Man 2 Dee.
The List 29 Nov-l2 Dec l996 37