Released 14/03/2011 - Chemikal Underground
The nominees for the inaugural Scottish Album of the Year Awards were revealed last night, with some of the bands that have featured here on Scotified making the longlist of 20. Some, such as Mogwai and King Creosote & Jon Hopkins are more well known than others, although there is real quality across the field. It feels good that Scottish music is being recognised in this way, and makes me feel like this blog is a worthwhile endeavour. One album that I consider a dark horse for the title is factorycraft from ‘art-rockers’ FOUND. I first came across the band when they supported The Phantom Band who were touring their 2010 album ‘The Wants’. In a somewhat truncated performance space somewhere in Camden, their mixture of electronics and instruments made for a compelling set, and looking back on it they were somewhat more assured than the seemingly fatigued Phantoms.
The album is a real treat, filled with fantastic hooks and witty turns of phrase, frontman Ziggy Campbell’s vocal delivery walking the line between an abrasive fragility and a softer assuredness. Tracks such as ‘Machine Age Dancing’ provide a good blueprint of the band’s sound and ethos, with reverbed and disorted guitars trading places with stuttering beats and whirring machinic synths. Of course, it is an engagement with the shifting forms of industry – both personal and societal – that inspires the album as a whole. Some of the song titles are just so irresistable – e.g. ‘You’re not Vincent Gallo’ – and the lyrical devices equally so. Opener ‘Anti Climb Paint’ enthralls from the start, “My love comes staggered / Dog-eared and haggard / But your love…it never comes at all”. It’s clear from the outset that this is a Scottish album; not least the accented vocals, but the candour and wry wit.
If there is one thing that may put people off factorycraft it’s probably the way that many of its tracks are in a state of flux, with its melodies and compelling passages sometimes overly fleeting and inchoate. The narrative of the music on offer isn’t pieced together on a production line, but feels somewhat more, well, crafted – which gets to the heart of the oxymoron of its title. In his 2008 book The Craftsman, the prolific academic Richard Sennett describes craftsmanship as the desire to do a job well for its own sake. You certainly get the feeling that FOUND are more interested in doing what they feel is interesting and absorbing, rather than being overly concerned about providing an easy listen. That’s not to say that this album isn’t accessible, it’s just that it might take a few listens to swap the double takes for nods of the head.