Hurled in to turmoil as a result of being turfed out his rented flat and eager to flee the clamor & turbulence of the city, Lomond Campbell gave up on urban life and decided to move in to a decrepit, asbestos-ridden school deep in the rural highlands of Scotland. His plan was simple: turn this dog-eared, orphan building that nobody wanted into his recording studio. Cautiously setting audio equipment up between the drips from the dilapidated roof, he began work on his debut album.
Black River Promise charts this transition from white noise to near-silence and sees him reflecting on his new environment amongst the imagery of the lyrics. The title track is a yearning plea to an enigmatic ‘black river’ to honour a contract to carry him ‘to the mouth of the sea’; The Misery Bell describes the propagating waves of despondence hunting down the next victim in amongst the ‘hollows and hills’.
Brutes in Life showcases Campbell’s proclivity for a pop melody - a trait always apparent as chief songwriter in music/art collective FOUND, further seen in The Lengths and Every Florist In Every Town, both blissfully celebrating calamitous relationships. A cover of Nuala Kennedy’s Coal Daughter tears deeper into the landscape followed faithfully by tragic closer Hurl Them Further.
The record includes two instrumentals - Fallen Stag climbs from a whisper to a swashbuckling roar and Acharacle heckles and growls with equal parts menace and melancholy. Both were recorded live in a 500 year old castle, along with the Pumpkinseeds, a 10 piece string ensemble assembled by cellist/arranger Pete Harvey (King Creosote, Modern Studies, The Leg).
Originally asked by Campbell to “throw together a few chord swells”, Harvey found himself writing evocative, spiraling arrangements that would come to span the entire breadth of the album. Harvey’s complex string compositions mesh with Campbell’s Takoma Records inspired cyclical guitar playing to create an impressionistic highland eeriness which pays homage to Forever Changes, Five Leaves Left and Sea Change.
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