Not content with drumming for Teenage Fanclub and managing Scottish outfits such as the aching pulse music act Attic Lights, Camera Obscura and current hopefuls The Vaselines, Mr Macdonald is not averse to the off special ‘own’ project. Here, he and his Garageband programme on a mac put this together whilst on tour as an album of solo instrumental pieces. Here they are, twelve of them in all and all names after places he visited. Curiously the pictures put in the listener’s head may not evoke the nominated city Francis intends ! But this is individual response to what one hears and doesn’t devalue the project. Rather it makes it all the more intriguing…
Take the opener, titled ‘Bremen’ with it stately buildup and orchestrated nobility. It does go on a little too long, but if just played the piece for reaction I’d have sworn it was an outtake from the soundtrack of the Dirk Bogarde bleak-but-beautiful film ‘Death In Venice’. It is truly emotional and exquisite. Next cut ‘Aaarhus’ with its ‘Locomotion’ rhythm and reedy organ makes me think of a 60’s pop music cabaret club in, say, St Tropez, whatever Macdonald was intending.
As a quick aside, I have collected a series of city-based compilations on Petrol where the idea is to give a sonic snapshot of that place. It’s called ‘The Sex the City The Music’ and I especially recommend ‘Berlin’ and ‘Barcelona’. Can’t find ‘Mexico City’ though, damn it…
Back to ‘Maculate Conceptions’ and ‘Oslo’ has a cool jazz vibe, sounds like someone being followed late ar night down dark streets in a film noir ; ‘Paris’ is pure McSatie ! An 80’s cars type guitar-synth tread represents ‘Helsinki’ ; whereas ‘Croatia’ with its insistent accordian figure and kids-tv-adventure melody has a curious lope and electronic effects.
The most evocative piece is ‘Malmo’ which sound so very Dutch canal to me..so what do I know ??
With no lyrics the musical creations speak for themselves, all said and done it’s accomplished and a fun, gentle listen. Playing a friend some of the cuts and asking them to nominate country and city would be pretty amusing, I’ll give ya that idea for nothing, Francis ! He’s doing a talk or two about the album so maybe he should spin some cuts to the audience and get their thoughts….
Pete Sargeant www.fairhearing.co.uk