|factorycraft ~ CD Ref: CHEM152 CD|
"Arty Scottish indie collective win both hearts and minds."
The path from art school to rocknroll band was an oft-trodden one in the 1960s and 70s, but its been a road less-travelled in recent years. So in an age of stage-schooled, fame-hungry gottabes, its nice to hear a band formed out of a multimedia art collective. Especially one imbued with the sense of mischief and off-kilter ideas youd associate with that background, but equally in love with some of popular musics more immediate, soul-stirring properties.
This debut album for Chemikal Underground, after a couple for the Surface Pressure and Fence labels, showcases music which is neither wilfully obscurantist nor ironically poppy, but full of smart yet heartfelt indie-rock built to alternately quicken your pulse and wrong-foot your brain.
You know youre in the presence of a band a touch more cerebral than the average when the second song is entitled Ill Wake With a Seismic Head No More, but its the earthy appeal of cavernous guitar and brooding bass, reminiscent of early Cure albums, that reels you in. Yet as that title suggests, theres always a sense of mischief, and it repeatedly meanders off on tangents, before concluding, "I only ever wanted to put my tongue in your dimples."
You cant deny the vintage pop allure of Machine Age Dancing, with its harmony-laden chorus and echoing Spector-style drums, but all the while they ration their melodic favours, repeatedly wandering off on discord-tinged, techno-flecked tangents. Yet treating us mean only keeps us keener.
The same trick is pulled on Shallow, which opens as a windswept, yearning reverie decorated by dreamy backing vocals, but sidesteps intermittently into proggy flights of shoegazing fancy, before eventually coming full circle.
Post-modernists all the way, they pick from a grab-bag of musical, cinematic and artistic references, but the object always seems to be to entertain rather than confuse. Once again, Youre No Vincent Gallo has passages of nicely rounded indie-pop but then wanders off the beaten track via introspective lo-fi contemplation, skittering techno beats and pink noise.
The result, invariably, is that they hold the attention like a movie that keeps tantalising you with strands of plot then flashing back and switching the viewpoint. Some may find it irritating, but many more, you suspect, intoxicating.
These leftfield art popsters are equally at home winning BAFTAs for making robots out of wardrobes as they are devising interactive air traffic control audience experiences. Laying down their second LP in two weeks, FOUND are half psychedelic art project and half swooning indie band who are riddled with electronics thatll wrong foot you everytime.
Machine Age Dancing, for example, starts as a faithful Motown lope before switching into a beatscape more inspired by Dabrye. There are more straight forward ideas like Shallow, with the falsetto melancholia of their Scottish forefoathers (and former art teachers) The Beta Band proudly keeping their flag planted in their distinct ground of Caledonian indie wonk. Criminally under exposed. [8/10]
With their recent win of Creative Scotland's Vital Spark award and third album Factorycraft being given a leg-up by the ever daring Chemikal Underground, Edinburgh collective FOUND look set to continue their steady ascent. Where debut Found Can Move slowly unfurled in woozy layers of electro-glitch jazz and 2007 follow-up This Mess We Keep Reshaping compiled this into ragged, beat-laden experimental pop, Factorycraft takes sizeable steps towards cloaking such inner-workings.
Electro beats are honed into 4/4 timings, guitars sound like guitars and vocal melodies take a step in the spotlight. Opener Anti-Climb Paint is a relative slap in the face, immediate and direct in its three-chord ascending bridge and Machine Age Dancings interjecting chorus and Every Hour That Passes calypso coda will likely prick even casual ears. Album highlight Shallow might bask in their propensity for sonic adventure, however Factorycraft proves that FOUND may be making experimental music, but never for experiments sake. [4/5]