Tag Archives: Fat-Suit

Fat-Suit – Atlas [Equinox]

You need only listen to a couple of tracks on Fat-Suit’s new album Atlas to realise you are listening to some of the most innovative jazz being made in Scotland today.

Obviously you’ve got to be careful using “innovative” and “jazz” in the same sentence, their being practically synonymous, but you know what I mean.

Atlas follows in an extremely contemporary line of sound-making that blends old, big, brass sounds with electronic production techniques in the thread of Snarky Puppy and Vulfpeck, names that have become prominent in jazz within the last ten years or so.

So it’s fresh on the ears! By comparing them to Snarky Puppy and Vulfpeck I am saying that their sound is tight, skilfully crafted and deliberate.

Vocals are used very sparingly and to much effect, supplementing the emphatic effect of subtly introduced production techniques and distortions placed on the instrumentals in ‘Cowfords’ showing that even seven tracks into the work Fat-Suit still have tricks up their sleeve.

Solos are taken to interesting dimensions, with nods of the head to Daft Punk in ‘Sparks’, with a real slammer on the keyboard.

Elements like these in tandem are generous to the listener, and at times it becomes completely selfless, pleasure-giving music (no crazy ten minute atonal organ digressions, no blasted intergalactic saxophone numbers).

This is the direction jazz of this kind should be heading in: focusing on a live sound, counting on creative musicianship as well as good song-writing and a healthy dose of good-humour for the sake of conviviality.

The listener is left awe-struck, yes, but the album is delivered with the friendly charm of the band next door.

Words: Patrick McCafferty

Fat-Suit at Stereo, 17/2/15

Despite brewing a bitch of a cold I struggle manfully into the cosy confines of Stereo to join in the launch of jazz ensemble Fat-Suit‘s new album Jugaad (confusingly actually put out two months ago), and a fine event it is.

A mixture older, trad-looking folk and the venue’s typical young hipsters get confronted with a set that veers wildly from the conventional to funk to sleaze to almost Carl Craig-esque Detroit take on the genre to the… well, all over the shop: mostly with a very high hit rate; most definitely all of it a heavier and more solid proposition live than expected.

It’s impressive stuff and despite meandering happily round the various back streets offered up by the jazz-map there’s core; a hefty groove running throughout almost the entire evening; a nucleus around which all the instruments on the display, from 21st century electronics to wood to brass, can spin with abandon.

There’s some enthusiastic hollers from the rowdier elements shaking their moneymakers when the going gets rough; appreciative nods from the aficionados.

The only slightly flatter note is when the fiddles and other strings – among the ten plus members – steer things a little too excessively folky, and dare one say Scottish, direction.

Perhaps that illustrates the slight perils of working as a large collective, though of course that set up has myriad bonuses as well.

When drifting off-script and allowing each of the musicians to take individual and more forward roles the vibrancy and freedom is palpable.

That’s not to say the strings aren’t great, they are, just that when the Scottishness comes to the fore the glee and groove retreat a little, and though employed skilfully for the most part the songs that stray a little too far into raggle taggle territory are less successful: ‘No Regrets’ being an example; though it is a fine and delicate tune on record it interrupts the flow of the gig a touch.

Tracks like ‘Hypnic Jerk’ are more fruitful; the alchemy of pulling that many disparate elements together into a coherent whole is faintly remarkable; the eye-contact between members and nods and winks allowing a silent marshalling of what could turn into atonal musical anarchy at any given moment – a jazz-apocalypse surely none of us could survive unscathed.

On this showing, even if not seduced by the Suits previously, they’re certainly well worth examining in person; creative and with a weighty swing… can dance to that all right.

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Words: Andrew Morrison

Album of 2014

Andrew Person & Lovers Turn To Monsters – Everything We Miss17 Andrew Pearson & Lovers Turn To Monsters – Everything We Miss [Common]

A combination of two endearing singer-songwriters, brought together under the umbrella of Common Records in the dismal Glaswegian rain, resulting in an equally endearing collection of tracks. Taking a song each throughout the track listing, the single ‘Juan Antonio’ is a standout track in an octet of tracks that will coax out a tear if you let them. (Kyle McCormick)


Fat-Suit – Jugaad17 Fat-Suit – Jugaad [Equinox]

With a 15 strong collective of highly trained musicians, in the later part of 2014 Fat-Suit released an instrumental album of innumerable sounds and styles all expertly welded together. Tight grooves splashed with influences from traditional Scottish music and a heavy emphasis on jazz and experimenting ensures that Jugaad is a big, unique flag planted firmly in a Scottish music scene which is very lucky to have Fat-Suit in its midst. (Greg Murray)


National Jazz Trio of Scotland – Standards Volume III17 National Jazz Trio of Scotland – Standards: Volume III [Karoke Kalk]

Bill Wells has made his name by his collaborations and his experimentations, which often take him to pry the envelope of pop music to great result, at first, Standards: Volume III could appear to be a glossy but unwavering pop album, but upon repeated listens this record is a richly endearing effort for fans and casual listeners alike.


The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads17 The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads [Domino]

Amphetamine Ballads does take some warming to, but after a number of listens and a full appreciation of its delightfully refined latter half, this album is undoubtedly one to be treasured if it appeals to your sense of artistry.


Withered Hand – New Gods15 Withered Hand – New Gods [Fortuna Pop]

New Gods might at first fool you as sounding like inoffensive dentist-waiting-room shmooth-fm folk-pop; clean but still sensibly naturalistic production, tons of hooks, catchy choruses, acoustic guitars and simple song structures; yet lurking in the lyrics there’s an extremity of emotional tension that swings between stark ugly introspection on one hand and manic optimism on the other.


Andrew Montgomery – Ruled By Dreams15 Andrew Montgomery – Ruled By Dreams

Former Geneva vocalist Andrew Montgomery went solo with Ruled By Dreams, and has successfully created an album that showcases his writing strengths, both musically and lyrically.


Thin Privilege - Thin Privilege12 Thin Privilege – Thin Privilege [Struggletown]

For me, Thin Privilege is the band of 2014. With their intense live show alienating crowds’ left, right and centre, I had very high hopes for this record and was not disappointed. This noisy, duel bass assault of an album really grasps the energy of what this very short-lived band was. (Iain Gillon)


Jonnie Common – Trapped In Amber12 Jonnie Common – Trapped In Amber [Song, by Toad]

Bizarre in all the right places, in all the right ways, Trapped In Amber is perhaps best described as “bizarre pop” as a direct consequence. Pleasingly simple soundscapes provide the backdrop to lyrics that span the board from drama to comedy, with hints of balladry (‘Fractal’), hip-hop (‘Crumbs’) and amazement (‘Binary 101’) all contributing to a record of abundant imagination. (Kyle McCormick)


Young Fathers – Dead12 Young Fathers – Dead [Anticon/Big Dada]

2014 was Young Fathers’ year, taking home award after award with critical acclaim following them at every turn. Dead was the centre piece of it all, an intoxicating multicultural record that took elements of hip-hop, electronica and pop and put Scottish music firmly back on the musical map.

Rustie – Green Language11 Rustie – Green Language [Warp]

Rustie deserves every single bit of credit that comes his way, while fellow Glaswegian label mate Hudson Mohawke jets off with the glamorous names, Rustie has stuck to his guns and make a record that feels like natural progression. Green Language has all of Rustie’s punch and some very special moments, still we can’t help feel his best is yet to come and we can’t wait.

Beerjacket – Darling Darkness10 Beerjacket – Darling Darkness

Darling Darkness makes for a relaxing listen, but there’s more to it. There’s a depth and texture that goes beyond your ordinary singer songwriter. To mark 10 years of Beerjacket, Peter Kelly has released a beautiful, cosy, folk masterpiece. (Alisa Wylie)

The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave8 The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave [FatCat]

One of the years later releases but well worth the wait, aside from their debut it could be their best yet. The production values like always are superb and the songs reek of melancholic angst and pain just what you’d expect from Scotland’s gloomiest export. The album deserves all the praise it gets. (Phil Allen)


Mogwai – Rave Tapes8 Mogwai – Rave Tapes [Rock Action]

A lush set of songs that breathe a warm melancholia; flourishes of ambient and electro sounds underpinned by one of the great guitar arsenals in all of music. (Brendan Sloan)


Stanley Odd – A Thing Brand New7 Stanley Odd – A Thing Brand New [A Modern Way]

The Edinburgh sextet’s third album sees them at their creative best, with their usual concoctions of politics, pop culture and poetry shifted into the next razor sharp gear. Tackling issues of parenthood and imperialism, likely catalysed by recent arrivals and national political awakenings, among other things, A Thing Brand New is thought-provoking and head-nodding perfection. (Kyle McCormick)


Fatherson – I Am An Island6 Fatherson – I Am An Island [A Modern Way]

Incredible, conceptual debut from a band that looks set to take off in a big way in 2015. Sounds absolutely massive. (Alisa Wylie)


PAWS – Youth Culture Forever4 PAWS – Youth Culture Forever [FatCat]

Youth Culture Forever might be the perfect follow up to Cokefloat! It takes its predecessors themes and then follows up on them, while also covering some new ground; plus the production is a serious step up and it shows. (Phil Allen)


Deathcats – All Hail Deathcats4 Deathcats– All Hail Deathcats [Fuzzkill]

I never thought Deathcats would get a full LP release, 2014 truly was a brilliant year for Scottish music. From the get go Deathcats display a penchant for crafting some of the most infuriatingly brilliant melodies in recent memory. Aside from this it’s great to see the band really test their limits and put some of their live show into the record with the great linking sections between songs. (Phil Allen)


Algernon Doll – Omphalic3 Algernon Doll – Omphalic [Struggletown]

Emo/alt-rock is a genre I that I don’t often indulge in anymore but every so often something pops up which shakes me from that angsty slumber and reminds me that it’s still possible to create original and awesome sounding music in that style. Ewan Grant’s Algernon Doll and their album Omphalic is the perfect example of this, and legendary producer Steve Albini will no doubt help them carry their momentum into next year, with their fourth release in as many years. (Greg Murray)


King Creosote – From Scotland With Love2 King Creosote – From Scotland With Love [Domino]

A stirring celebration of Scottish pride and resolve; a profoundly evocative album, which handles its subject matter with gentle reverence. This record is nothing less than a masterpiece, and its release saw it receive the critical acclaim that it rightly deserves. The album provided an evocative accompaniment to Virginia Heath’s documentary of the same title, although despite its status as a soundtrack, it is a piece of art in its own right (Brendan Sloan/Ellen Renton)


Honeyblood – Honeyblood1 Honeyblood – Honeyblood [FatCat]

Glaswegian duo Honeyblood’s self-titled debut unleashes a wave of emotionally aggressive lyrics mixed with sweet melodies and harmonies reminiscent 90s grunge and fitting to their name. The band’s stripped back and minimal setup is compelling, allowing vocalist Stina Tweeddale to showcase her enchanting voice. (Jess Lavin)


Fat-Suit – Jugaad [Equinox]

Thanks to the internet, being a young and jazzy experimental band is currently more prosperous than it ever has been.

BadBadNotGood are three albums into blazing a critically acclaimed hip-hop trail out of Toronto, Manchester’s Gogo Penguin made it onto the Mercury Prize shortlist earlier this year, and of course Snarky Puppy and their almost forty-strong collective remain hugely influential.

Fat-Suit are Scotland’s answer to this trend, and it feels almost patronising to note that its fifteen members are all seriously impressive musicians.

Their compositions sit on a spectrum which, at one end features warped, technical jazz and at the other end shows off a tenderer penchant for creating trad-inspired, melody rich songs.

Their second album, Jugaad, is a powerhouse of instrumental music; it kicks off with ‘Don’t Die Octopi’, unleashing a keyboard sequence that flies madly around like a techno song.

The band effortlessly transition from section to section, bouncing back and forth from the theme before dropping into an unexpectedly gentle saxophone solo to set up the songs big climax.

Regarding the previously mentioned “spectrum”, the group slide up and down it on ‘Mistaken for a Hat’, which begins with the piano-y, gentler side of Fat-Suit before churning into funk jams, jazz solos and a hammering pinnacle taking the song just short of six-minutes.

‘Hypnic Jerk’ is a real standout track in among so many gems, as two slower, trumpet-led sections of trilling fiddle bookend a long middle section of jarring, incredibly cool grooves.

Special mentions go to ‘Illusions’ for allowing the groups guitarists to indulge in some hectic solo-ing fun, and to ‘April Lake’ for showing off a similar feel to my favourite song ‘No Regrets’, from the first album.

Jugaad is an incredibly successful album for Fat-Suit in that it displays virtuosity without stepping into the realms of showing off, shows an exciting mix of stylish composition that at points even manages to seamlessly interweave Latin-sounding rhythms with traditional-Scottish-sounding fiddle, and perhaps most importantly, puts this collective firmly in a league that will hopefully see them recognised for their brilliance by more and more music fans around the world.

Words: Greg Murray