Lost Map Records, the Isle of Eigg-based label founded and run by Johnny ‘Pictish Trail’ Lynch, has gone from strength to strength since its first release 10 years ago and for BM’s money has consistently been the best label in the country for spotting original, unusual but very talented individuals and groups from Scotland and beyond, letting them do their thing and develop, and often paying huge dividends.
The event used both the basement crypt and the main auditorium of the historic former church. Oran Mor is an inspirational and original building, with its almost psychedelic Alistair Gray-originated artwork. It is now owned by the Scotsman Group, formerly G1, and BM hopes that the new owners will continue to put on the variety of musical events that the venue has been known for.
Anyway at around 3.20pm the first act took to the stage – Yorkshire-born Amy May Ellis, armed with just an acoustic guitar, beguiled the growing audience in the big room with a series of sweet, sparse, slightly Joanna Newsome-esque numbers (including a great yarn about a coven of witches near where she was brought up).
Taking a day off from supporting Yorkston and Persson on their UK tour, she proceeded to auction off (for charity) a small stuffed bear she had bought in a charity shop that day. Of course she did have to mention how much Edinburgh had bid in a similar auction the previous night (£16) – so inevitably when the top bid was £17 it caused a lot of hilarity and kind of broke the ice for this quite disparate audience, who had committed themselves to quite a long haul Sunday all-dayer. BM did chat with some who were going to other events in the evening (Bonny Lighthorseman was playing at St Lukes)…
Next it was down to the darkness of the crypt (aka The [email protected]) for the endearingly wonky technopop of Maranta (yes BM knows it is caps space caps space etc but gimme a break!). A keyboard and electronic-percussion toting duo, the sound is quite poppy but with overlays of goth and some darker sidetracks – one sounded like a more recent cousin of New Order’s ‘Temptation’, no bad thing, while others put BM in mind of post-ravers The Beloved. There have been a couple of tracks released into the wild so far, of which they played several, while singer Sophie wrestled with her mike-stand and cables while trying not to corpse with laughter. BM hopes to see more of this lot and they have a lot of potential.
BM only caught the last couple from Glasgow-based Canadian LT Leif but the last a cappella number (‘Parting Song’?) sounded sublime, especially in the surroundings of the main hall.
Susan Bear was up next, playing material mainly from her recent (well mid-2022) album ‘Alter’ – the band tonight included several other familiar faces to BM, including Charlotte from Broken Chanter playing some great basslines. The songs are actually quite mainstream in style (not a criticism, and maybe just that most Lost Map Acts are usually quite weird in some way!) but BM could feel an alt-country influence and also some quite strong Springsteen vibes coming across, again no bad thing. Susan played mainly guitar and there were also two keyboard players and (I think) Pictish Trail’s drummer – the set ended with a great cover of a Martha Ffion track ‘Someone Who Cares’.
Savage Mansion are probably the ‘rockiest’ band in the Lost Map stable – a muscular four-piece who played in the main hall, channelling shades of Ash and sometimes Biffy in their atonal chords and choppy riffs. As usual they kicked up a fair old racket, the lyrics being spat out at speed, sometimes spoken sometimes sung – keyboards were deployed latterly and for BM the highlight was probably ‘The Crucible’. A good way to start off the year…
Pictish Trail chose (well, it was on paper his event so presumably he chose) to appear in the crypt, playing a typically wired set of tracks mainly from ‘Island Family’ but also some older stuff. Backed by the usual suspects (Susan Bear reappearing on keyboards) Johnny attacked the material with gusto and a certain abandonment. These songs just sound better every time…
So, to the return of ballboy to Glasgow with a full band show for the first time in, well, quite a while anyway. Edinburgh’s Gordon McIntyre, for it was he, brought with him two keyboard players, bassist and drummer, again several of them looking a bit familiar. Playing a mean guitar and looking nervous but happy in the main hall, he started with old favourite ‘Donald In The Bushes With A Bag Of Glue’ and that set the tone for the set. A brace of songs from ‘Club Anthems’, an album now over 20 years old, we also got the combo’s probably best-known track ‘I Hate Scotland’. The overall sound and lyrical themes, a kind of alchemic melding of The Wedding Present, Belle and Sebastian and Half Man Half Biscuit remain the same, and while we might not be getting any new material anytime soon, the band seemed happy to play and this audience happy to listen, so great all round.
By this time the witching hour was almost upon BM, and a combination of drink having been taken and a definite early start the following day meant that an exit had to be timed to get one of the hard to find late-ish Sunday evening buses (well first of two) so there was just enough time to watch the first couple of numbers back downstairs from techno duo Free Love. They were going great guns when BM had to leave, getting the audience dancing and pumping up the volume and beats.
Overall this was a great event which may have seemed quite ambitious but Lost Map’s artists and followers certainly pulled it off!
(Images: Andrew McKenna)