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Helicon / Rambler / Stara Zagora

Glasgow The Rumshack (Thursday March 5th 2020)

By • Mar 26th, 2020 • Category: Gig review

The Rumshack is a great venue in Glasgow’s southside, and in the basement there is a performance space with a decent soundsystem. If it can cope with the dub reggae nights which take place on a regular basis it can probably cope with quite a bit, and it proved up to the task tonight. Helicon could be Glasgow’s current loudest band, although there are other competitors!

Stara Zagora is the moniker used by Sean McGeoch for his guitar and laptop project, mainly instrumental but with a bit of singing as well. There are distinctive guitar figures and keyboard/percussion loops on the first few tracks, including the very melodic ‘World War Memes’. The last track (and his third and most recent single) ‘A Cleaner Road to Progress’ has some soft and sweet vocals along with more a ballady feel to it. Very promising…

Next up was Rambler, aka Caitlin Buchanan, who with just a guitar gave us a pretty varied set of songs, a bit distracted by the noise at the now pretty busy bar…idiots… Among songs played were ‘The Truth’, ‘Cold Again'(?) and ‘Little White Lies’. The overall effect sounded a bit like Kate Bush vs Jeff Buckley, with a mixture of subtlety and righteous anger and frustration. This was a much more confident and full performance than the first time BM saw Rambler and hopefully she will keep evolving, certainly she is headed in a good direction.

This was Helicon’s album launch for ‘This Can Only Lead to Chaos’ and they played pretty much all of the album with a couple more besides. They make a shuddering beast of a sound, the amps ramped up and with an arsenal of guitar pedals onstage. With Graham Gordon on keyboards/sitar (yes you heard!), Seb Jonsen on drums, John-Paul Hughes, Gary Hughes and Mark McLure on guitars and bass, they thunder through ‘Pure Filth’, ‘The Sun Also Rises’, ‘Come On Get Off’ and ‘Bardo Thodol’ for starters.

If you imagine a sound which melds the sonic brutalism of Spacemen 3 and MBV coupled with harmonics and drones which date back to the 1960s, and then add, on some tracks, the most dexterous sitar playing BM has seen in a very long time (and it is not a gimmick, it fits in with the songs) then that might give you an idea of something like what was going on. By the last couple of songs ‘French as F**k’ and ‘Glasgow Uni Accent’ they were motoring, like some kind of monster truck, having been revved up and taken up through the gears, now in the home straight.

Helicon are ready to rock you, more the question should be, are you prepared for the massive sonic wig-out they create? BM urges you to dive in…

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