You might remember me interviewing Mark Swan of Glasgow band (or artistic musical collective if you prefer) Natalie Pryce at the tail end of last year.
Since then, their single Emily was named in the Top Tracks of the Year list of Alistair Braidwood at Scots Whay Hae! and they also found themselves the subject of a highly favourable New Artist of the Day feature in Louder Than War (okay, this was actually written by me so no big surprise there).
Produced by Samuel Joseph Smith of Casual Sex at the Green Door Studio in the west end of Glasgow and financed entirely through crowdfunding, their second album, Vol. II: The Ascent from Ego to Ego, is released today.
Remarkably, each track was recorded in one single take on the first day in the studio in analogue, the whole process of recording and mastering the double album taking a mere three days.
I’m obviously a fan of their apocalyptic collision of dirty blues and desolate garage rock which manages to reflect a myriad of high and low culture influences from grim fairy tales to the films of David Lynch.
Intensity levels are cranked up to eleven throughout and the whole band is in complete command of their material. There are some economical and loping bass-lines from Steven Litts and Greg Taylor’s guitar provides an always interesting coating for all of the songs, while even the J.K. Simmons character from the 2014 film Whiplash would surely approve of Stephen Coleman’s splendid drumming. It really is exceptional.
Mark Swan meanwhile hollers, screams, yelps, shrieks, croons and even whispers his lyrics with the manic conviction of a man who knows he is about to embark on a long day’s journey into a particularly bleak night; sometimes he can sound unhinged and sometimes strangely tender. He also supplies harmonica and occasionally melodica, the latter in particular giving certain tracks like Sam an intriguing and hypnotic texture.
Much of this can make for an uneasy listening experience and Natalie Pryce won’t be for everyone but they aim high and I like that in a band; they also refuse to play safe and clearly put a whole lot of effort into the creation of their music and videos, so see what you think, this is new single Søren, which they advise you to watch on HD.
Finally, since I mentioned the Green Door Studio and David Lynch, I thought I should throw in an extra wee treat that combines the two. Here is another act whose debut album (Night Tides) was recorded at Green Door. This is Hausfrau covering the track Mysteries of Love, a David Lynch & Angelo Badalamenti composition written especially for Lynch’s surreal and mesmerising classic, Blue Velvet, after the director was unable to gain the rights to This Mortal Coil’s stunning version of Song to the Siren for the film.
For more on Hausfrau, click here.