Record review: The Douglas Firs – EP1 [Armellodie Records]

Following the release of their critically acclaimed album, Happy As A Windless Flag, The Douglas Firs have been quietly working away on a series of EPs which have now been released through their own Armellodie Record label.

EP1 is yet another outing of supreme delicacy and mastery of layering.

Neil Insh’s project is well known for it’s lightness of touch and ethereal beauty and this set of recordings is no different.

Their music collectively is like a dewy cobweb, so many strands, so much to unravel and understand – so much complexity both lyrically and musically that it’s just impossible to do justice to any of their music with one listen.

There is a deftness of touch to these songs – they’ve obviously been such a labour of love, weaving layers of intricate guitar detail with looped noises, crackles, sparks and feedback.

Themed melodies run through the Firs’ work like little reminders – making you aware of the space in their music.

Insh’s voice is a delicate waft of gentle water running through the songs – you barely know its there, he weaves such a breathy like touch to the songs – sometimes discordant, sometimes harmonic but always there like some kind of Scottish whisper.

The tracks are variable in length, but most are short bursts of violent beauty, just enough to make you want to know and hear more of this wonderful collective.

Insh is someone who likes to take his time with recording – the last EP spans nearly two years, but is worth the wait.

The Douglas Firs produce music that needs time and space to appreciate – you need to let yourself absorb the sounds and allow them to wash over you properly.

It’s hard not to think of the album as musical therapy, the kind of thing that would help someone relax or be used to help an alcoholic stay calm and focussed – it’s the kind of music to listen to, to de-stress you and make you forget the bad things.

Words: Imogen Reed

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