Rev Magnetic is the new band led by the legendary Luke Sutherland, Scottish writer and musician. Versus Universe has been on my to-do pile for reviews for some time now, and I’ve put off writing it so far not because it isn’t a good record – it is – but because the 48 minutes within are so intense and otherworldly (not quite ‘Trout Mask Replica’, but not so far off in terms of being way out, if not musically) that I’ve been trying to get my head round it.
It is what would have once been described as a ‘headphone album’ – the music within requires your attention, and there’s no point having it on in the background whilst getting on with the drudgery of day-to day-life. That way it starts to let you get a handle on it. Because, make no mistake, it is a beautiful record. Sutherland has been a frequent collaborator with Mogwai – it comes out on their Rock Action label – and that makes sense, too. Amongst others, the press release mentions Abba (I guess for the sublime pop within), Vaughan Williams (for the pastoral parts) and Stravinsky (for the utterly mental bits). While the phrase ‘our music is actually really hard to categorise’ in press releases is enough to drive most writers mad, this is an occasion when it’s hard to disagree.
This record was trailed by ‘Yonder’ and ‘The Gloaming’, both of which are very different tracks and yet give a good starting point for getting into this record. This record will take a lot of time to live with – and that may put it out of the reach of many – but those who do will find it rewarding down the line.