Finn LeMarinel – now available

“Violence” by Finn LeMarinel is now available to buy as a CD and digital download from Finn’s bandcamp site:

It is also available via iTunes

“Violence” launch gig

Finn LeMarinel launches his debut album, “Violence” with a show at the Glad Cafe in Glasgow this Saturday (20th October). Also appearing are Sarah Banjo and I Build Collapsible Mountains.

Tickets are a mere £6 and available from here where you also get a free track from each of the artists or on the door on the night (where you don’t).

Finn LeMarinel – Places Known

Violence by Finn Le Marinel

The fourth Ubisano release is “Violence” by Finn Le Marinel, which is released on October 15th.

Finn is a Glasgow artist who has been carving out a unique style of songwriting over a number of years. With his band, Trapped in Kansas, he has released a sizable amount of material on CD, vinyl and online that has been consistently well received in print and online media alike. The band has played festivals such as T in Park and Rockness as well as touring extensively around the UK. 

For his what is his debut solo venture,Finn has produced a work that showcases his own particular take on song writing. This combines an inventive acoustic guitar technique that makes use of percussive and tapping styles, with lyrics that are as imaginative as they are rich in metaphor.

The full track listing is:

Garden/ Roll in the Grime/ Close Enough to Part/ Sown / Known Voices/ Winter/ Places Known/ The Mayor/ Wrung / Only Child/ Is This All They Are/ No-one.

One of the album’s standout tracks, “Places Known” is available to stream or as a free download here, via.Bandcamp:

Some reviews of Sycamore with Friends

Neil Cooper, The List

Off-duty Tattie Toes drummer Shane Connolly and band-mate Jer Reid alongside Arab Strap-and-a million-others guitarist Stevie Jones form the core of this low-key side-project supergroup, but on this organic-sounding debut are emboldened by an all-star cast of similarly off-piste mavericks, including pianist Bill Wells, viola player Aby Vulliamy and vocalist Nerea Bello.

The result on these six instrumental workouts veers from angular Mediterranean thrash to post-Tortoise twang, with wonky piano and viola scrapes pulsed by busy drum patterns. Beautifully textured, it beguiles one minute before going into orbit the next, a bit like a post-rock Mahavishnu Orchestra with all the indulgences chopped out. Lovely.

Mike, Peenko

Writing about instrumental music can be a hazardous pastime for the unwary. Without those easy emotional shoe-ins provided by even the most oblique lyrics, it’s all too easy to get sidetracked into ridiculously flowery descriptive passages and clichéd efforts to explain the sounds you’re hearing in minute detail. I know, I’ve done this fairly often – and I suspect will again here. But occasionally a record comes along like “Sycamore and Friends” which is so packed to the rafters with inventive, odd and bewildering sounds that it becomes hard not to do just that. Formed from the scattered remnants of a host of impressive former Glasgow acts with a pedigree which reminds me just how rich and diverse the 1990s could be at their best, Sycamore is something of a peripatetic creature. This collection of music has taken almost five years to assemble, the three core members drifting between collaborative projects and then returning to dust off recordings almost half a decade old. The simple thing to do in the post-digital world would be to package them up, and post them to Bandcamp for a quick buck. Characteristically Sycamore took a more complicated and meandering route, bringing in a whole cast of friends and guest musicians to revitalise and augment their five years of work. The result is six varied, compelling and sometimes emotionally forceful tracks which find their origins deep in the mists of musical history.

At the heart of all of the compositions are the twin guitars of Jer Reid, a prolific serial collaborator, and Stevie Jones, formerly of El Hombre Trajeado among others. Despite the rich and complex mixture of instrumentation drawn into “Sycamore and Friends” throughout, it’s these two guitars which provide the force and focus to almost all of these pieces. The guitars are usually clean, unadorned by effects and even more powerful for that – when both are working together they provide a strange pulse to proceedings which reminded me of Louisville’s long forgotten Rodan. On the opening “A New Cold” the guitars are as much percussion instruments as anything else, augmenting Shane Connolly’s solid drums to shore up a woozy piece which speeds up and slows down like an unwinding gramophone. There is a little vocal accompaniment here too – provided by Aby Vulliamy – notably a Wells/Moffat contributor – who’s slow drift towards an abandoned wail of despair provides the feel of an ancient Yiddish folk song delivered from a scratchy 78.

’467’ begins with gentle, discordant guitar and piano notes alongside scrapes and groans of viola. A little way into the piece this solidifies into an urgent, driven epic with a flute melody dancing among stabs of angry guitar. ‘Pour’ opens by once again showcasing Connolly’s drumming, while a jazzy guitar line nags away. The effect is strangely calming and hypnotic, particularly when a second guitar joins with a low rhythmic thrum. Somewhere along the way it collapses into a passage of genuinely lovely, delicately twining guitars which set the tone for the gentle ending of the piece. By complete contrast ‘Anthem for Rondo’ is a shuddering, swaggering affair. Anchored on urgent drums and competing brass melodies it dips and soars, adopting and subverting the standard post-rock loud/quiet/loud construction. But this owes as much if not more to experimental jazz themes, which are buried somewhere within its epic, middle eastern fanfares and military drum rolls which are stirring and strangely sinister all at once.

Named for a remote beach on the Isle of Harris, ‘Luskentyre’ evokes calm landscapes but hints at the power if the sea with its dramatic crescendos and washes of sound. When the instruments reach their peak in reverberating pulses a little delicate vocal accompaniment is introduced. It is distant, subdued but oddly intriguing. There is a final, brutal assault where the guitars join to form a single, powerful blast before the waters are stilled again. The album closes with the lengthy ‘A Sun’ which is perhaps the most traditionally constructed ‘rock’ song here. The guitars duel for dominance over a thunder of bass and drums, slipping into a deceptively simple groove. But this is Sycamore and convention is soon dispensed with as the track collapses into a tumult of scratchy, detuned strings. It soon picks itself up and is reinvented as a jittering, nails-down-the blackboard squall of noise. It’s a fittingly challenging way to end a record which is built around the idea of never quite doing what you expect.

“Sycamore and Friends” is an intriguing, sometimes contrary record which in many ways doesn’t give up its secrets easily. But investing a little time in exploring its landscapes, especially through a pair of decent headphones is a very rewarding experience. It’s a dizzy, surprisingly emotive journey with a collective which delights in being able to weave huge, complex sounds out of very simple ingredients. If you’re one of those listeners who finds their patience tested by long, instrumental pieces I’d urge you to give this a spin – its compact length and sheer range of variations and shifts will surely hold your attention.

One of the challenges of these huge collaborative projects is assembling the cast to play live, but Sycamore propose to do just that on 3rd August at the Kinning Park Centre in an almost certainly never to be repeated launch event. “Sycamore and Friends” is available now from Ubisano Records – home of that first, stunning RM Hubbert album – and CD copies will be ready for the launch.

Chris Buckle, The Skinny

Like the tree after which they are named, Sycamore’s branches extend far. Between them, core members Jer Reid, Stevie Jones and Shane Connolly have roots in El Hombre Trajeado, Issho Taiko Drummers and Tattie Toes, amongst others; the record’s guesting “friends”, meanwhile, include Bill Wells and The One Ensemble’s Daniel Padden. The six pieces that constitute their debut are subtly intoxicating – a rich mix of tricky melodies and heady textures that eschew straightforward structures.

Opener New Cold is an immediate standout: one of the few tracks to feature prominent vocals, it buffets wordless wails (from Connolly’s fellow Tattie Nerea Bello) with exotic and propulsive twin guitars. The closing A Sun – with its droning, groaning interlude – also deserves mention, building to a noisy finish forged from percussive rattles and string whines. Sporadic lulls elsewhere do nothing to diminish the record as a whole, raising hopes this union is an on-going project and not a one-off.

Sycamore with Friends launch gig

Sycamore – with many of their collaborators in tow – launch Sycamore with Friends at the Kinning Park Complex in Glasgow on Friday 3rd August. Also appearing are Muscles of Joy and Peter Nicholson. Tickets are £5 and it starts at 8pm. You can find out much more both about the gig and the band’s many different other projects can be found on their recently launched website.

Sycamore album release

The third release on Ubisano is the debut by Sycamore.

The title, Sycamore with Friends, gives some clues to the nature of the album – an collaboration between a group of artists who have all worked together in various guises and permutations for many years.

Sycamore comprises Jer Reid (Dawson, God is My Co-Pilot), Stevie Jones (El Hombre Trajeado) and Shane Connolly (Tattie Toes); the musicians featured on the record are Daniel Padden (Volcano the Bear, The One Ensemble), Georgie McGeown (Issho Taiko Drummers), Nerea Bello (Tattie Toes), Aby Vulliamy (National Jazz Trio of Scotland), Sarah Kenchington (instrument maker) and Bill Wells (Bill Wells Trio/ Octet; Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat).

The record itself has been some five years in the making. The band played their first show on the opening night of Stereo back in 2007 and have only played four times subsequently, largely due to the 3 members’ extensive commitments elsewhere. Indeed, the recordings were made on a farm near Balfron some four years ago, and it was only in 2011 that it was decided to revisit them – with new contributions being sought from bandmates, friends and ongoing collaborators. This addded flute, viola, piano, hurdy gurdy and bass clarinet among other things to the mix.

It contains 6 pieces and comprises 36 minutes of music and will be available digitally from 7th July. CD copies will be available from 3rd August, which is also the date of a launch show to be held at the Kinning Park Centre in Glasgow. It will feature most – if not all – of those who play on the record and will almost certainly be the first and last chance to see all of them in the one place at the one time.

By way of a preview, here’s the first track, New Cold: