The Scottish Enlightenment // ‘Potato Flower’
New Album // Friday 1st June 2018
Armellodie Records // ARM58 // Ltd Edition White LP, CD and DL
Cargo Distribution // Proper Digital
Armellodie Records is proud to present Potato Flower, the second album from Scotland’s most subterranean, rock band, The Scottish Enlightenment. Potato Flower is an honest record, mined from the seams of joy and pain that are threaded through the monolithic repetition of ordinary life. And it’s taken a while.
The Scottish Enlightenment has a glacial sound – defined by slow tempos and bright guitars smothered in reverb – matched only by their glacial work ethic. The band is built around the dense and persuasive songwriting of David Moyes. Potato Flower is the follow up to 2010’s St Thomas, the two long players surrounded by a smattering of EPs and a single. Scottish Enlightenment releases are not easy come, so you should be prepared for them to stay with you awhile.
During the 8 years since St Thomas, some people have died and some people have been born. Nobody lives in the same place anymore. A huge chunk of life has elapsed, ordinary life with the standard dramas, love, fear, grief, hope, all the beauty and ugliness draped over jobs, laundry, bills, breakfast, lunch and tea. Potato Flower refuses to pretend that the important things are found anywhere else.
The music is reverberant cathedral rock, slow and delicate on ‘Machinery’ and ‘Slightly’, hefty and dangerous on ‘The Last Howl’ and ‘Colour It In’. The songs’ protagonists are caught within systems bigger than they can hope to influence; be it life and death, economics, or the planet’s orbit.
The album’s opener ‘Keep The Cats Outside’ is face-to-face with a dying mother and doesn’t know how to cope – “She took three days, withered and blew life away”. If you don’t have a lump in your throat on hearing this then you may be missing the empathy gene, please seek medical assistance.
Following that, ‘Self-Made Man’ stacks its stanzas in reverse order, a past life regression to the primordial swamp. Each verse glistens like the sea, the surf guitars played with the tired resignation of Pavement’s more chilled moments and buckets of reverb, and each separated by a Smithsy-Byrdsy guitar refrain that is bright, sweet and humble.
Elsewhere, ‘Blood Harmony’ is one of the darkest, most aggressive love songs you’re likely to hear, snapshotting the visceral romance of fighting parents madly in love and ready to kill for their kids. Its metallic baritone guitars pulse like a heart filled with love, fear, and blood.
In the final track ‘Wasps’, which is slow and quiet like breath on cold air, the changes of the year trace the lovers oscillation, a relationship like a double helix bent out of shape, each person a strand moving together and apart, winding round each other, closer with each turn.
“…furrowed, dense and sensitive, The Scottish Enlightenment will appeal to the intellectually rigorous and to lovers of luminous post-rock.” Mojo
“The menace of Joy Division and the slacker indie cool of Pavement. Whether it’s their engrossing hooks, guitar flurries, or the occasional brooding soundscape, the band set a high benchmark.” The List