Question – What do you get when you take a random crew of Scottish musical and artistic talent, a grumpy TV shopkeeper and the offer of a curry lunch in return for some lyrics and vocals? Answer – an excellent new project called The Grand Gestures. Obviously!
Spare Snare’s Jan Burnett is sailing this ship and has dragooned a few friends and acquaintances into charting a dark and poignant lyrical direction for his lo-fi soundscapes. As a concept the recent King Creosote and John Hopkins collaboration is a neat (easy!) comparison but this is a more organic affair; all tracks are recorded entirely on 16 track recorder, with no computers and each guest vocal recorded in a bathroom (hopefully before those curry lunches).
Avian songstress Jill O’Sullivan from the excellent Sparrow and the Workshop opens up with spoken verse, haunting chorus combo, ‘Deer in a Crosshair’. It’s a dreamy start and sets up proceedings excellently before actor Sanjeev Kohli (Navid from Still Game) suddenly and unexpectedly unloads a cheese dream, wondering “What is Chris De Burgh doing right now?” Apparently Scunner Campbell from Supergran was unavailable to muse on the whereabouts of Billy Ocean, maybe he’ll make it onto the next record.
It’s undoubtedly odd but the witty and stylish lyrics remind me of Jarvis Cocker. My only real complaint here is that the novelty of this guest performer takes away from the subtly atmospheric music… and also, Miss Marple just doesn’t rhyme with purple.
The grandest tune of these grand gestures lands next in ‘A Certain Compulsion’. Former Delgado and current collaberataholic Emma Pollock pitches bitter woman scorned against Burnett’s brooding background perfectly. Please remind me never to piss this woman off but also please remind these two that they must-must-must make more music together. Magnificent.
If Calamity Horse and Calamateur can be classed as a leftfield collaborators (tracks – ‘Baiting’ and ‘Song For A Salvation Army’), artist Celie Byrne is so left of field she’s up in the stand, eating a pie and hurling abuse at the linesman. Her track ‘Living By The Seaside’ brings a million Millport memories of chips and ice-cream and pensioners and pigeons. It’s so evocative you can almost taste the salt on your lips.
To finish off Jill O’Sullivan and then Sanjeev Kohli return for an encore. Jill’s second outing, ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ sounds like Lana Del Rey on the set of Twin Peaks while Kohli serves another ace in ‘The Ballad of SW19’. The best 15 minute (disco!) track about Wimbledon you will ever hear. Or your money back!
The Grand Gestures is a grand record and one you should seek out. And if the one-off gig planned for the King Tut’s on the 1st of June is half as fun as listening to this, it could be a very special night indeed.