Mull Historical Society : This Is Hope

Inspired by a cloned horse...

On the back cover of 'This Is Hope' there is a photograph of Colin MacIntyre, who isMull Historical Society, crouching stealthily behind a grassy rise. He is clad in an appalling green V-neck sweater and is brandishing an unwieldy, archaic-looking tape recorder at an unknowing sheep.

And that's the album in a nutshell. Strange,

out of time, unfashionable, eccentric, obsessed with found sound, full of boffiny tics and tricks…

no ovine vocal performances, but otherwise a perfect visual metaphor for MacIntyre's ways.

He just can't help himself - even if the man

crafted a pure pop nugget as pristine and blemishless as 'There She Goes' or 'Crazy In Love', he'd still feel the need to set it to a rhythm section composed entirely of popping bubble wrap.

Or something like that.

The record itself is named after a painting of, to put not too fine a point on it, a dog in a wig. And that's not a bad metaphor either: on one level, friendly and affectionate, but with something very wrong about it. At first glance, the album is brimming with breezy melodies, but with a myriad irregularities never far from the surface. 'This Is The Hebrides', for example, cranks into its gently plucked melancholia to a rhythm of water trickles and plops, while the beautifully aching lament of 'Death Of A Scientist (A Vision Of Man Over Machine, 2004)' slowly morphs over seven minutes into an unholy cacophony of pipe organ, reverb, distorted vocals and dislocated breakbeats, Beatles' 'Revolution 9' clad in twisted seam denim. The monolithic closer, 'In The Next Life (A Requiem)', is MacIntyre's 'Life On Mars', all mountain-top swoops of piano and awestruck vocals, and again boils up to an almighty crescendo of found sounds - it would be that Big Gigantic Epic Rock Song Noel Gallagher has always been threatening to write, were it not set to

a skew-whiff, incongruously tippy-tap synth-beat. There are straight moments - the insanely summery 'How 'Bout I Love You More' and its big fat grinning chorus, most notably - but these just throw 'This Is Hope''s manifold weirdnesses into brighter light. So if the record company people looking for a poster quote, something to nail 'This Is Hope' in one digestible bite-sized phrase: this album is a dog in a wig, waving a tape recorder

at a sheep. Hope that's clear.

Pete Cashmore
8 / 10

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