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Remember Remember
Forgetting The Present David Peschek , July 14th, 2014 06:08

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For some reason often described as 'proggy', likened to Mogwai (they're on Mogwai's label Rock Action) and/or seen as a slightly whimsical solo project, Remember Remember torch all preconceptions with this magnificent third album. I remember, years ago, seeing Graeme Ronald play solo in notorious Glasgow arts hub the Chateau, sampling the sounds plastic toys made. His first album as Remember Remember was very much an extension of that – a raft of  wonky samples and local players in his orbit, and a sound that was charmingly bucolic. Forgetting The Present is a beast – a world away from those child-like beginnings.

  The eight instrumentals here, ranging in length from a languid nine-plus minutes to an almost popstastic four, have none of the melodrama, or the am-dram longueurs ,of prog – they're too elegant, too limber, suggestive both of jazz and the kind of melodic krautrock you'd find on Michael Rother of Neu!'s late 70s solo records. There's a little bit less than an hour of music here, but caught up in its glistening web, you find that time passing disarmingly quickly. It's very much a band record too: muscular, fluid, intuitive.

  The repeated chimes of various kinds that the band obviously love are like ripples moving outwards from Tubular Bells, though less suggestive of the sprawling Oldfield oeuvre than the disquiet atmospheres they're used to evoke in The Exorcist; an ominous shimmer. Texturally, Forgetting The Present is gorgeous, a deep field of beautiful orchestration to explore. It's music that's hard to describe without using words like 'shimmer' and 'swirl' – and that's meant as high praise. It doesn't sound 'like', say, Blue Bell Knoll, by Cocteau Twins – but it's just as sensual, just as heady. Pieces like 'Blabbermouth' and 'La Mayo'  recall the woozy rush of cosmic disco, but they're stranger, more elusive, haunted and haunting.

  The single, 'Magnets', is majestic – weaving a whole world that begins with Andy Brown's adorably lolloping drums, then woody, just-claustrophobic-enough piano and serpentine organ. A series of little crescendos and diminuendos that surge on-and-upwards, - think, perhaps, Led Zep's 'Kashmir', but rewritten by Lebanese genius Ziad Rahbani creating an aural palimspest as it builds, erasing and rewriting itself. At just under the seven minute mark – exquisitely evanescent – almost everything drops away, and for – crucially – slightly longer than you're expecting, there's nothing but the quietest glimmering notes – motes - hanging in the air before – just as the seduction of the almost-silence is total - it crashes back in, joyously affirming, perfectly overwhelming.

'Why You Got A Blue Face' begins like the soundtrack to one of the European art films Scott Walker escaped into in the 60s; 'Purple Phase' sounds initially like late 80s Kate Bush ; much of the album is reminiscent of Soft Machine's final single, 'Soft Space' - albeit infinitely more languorous.  Mostly, Remember Remember have never sounded more like themselves. Have I been gushing a bit about this record? Yes, I have. But it feels like a pinnacle, not just for the band but for Scottish music. A profoundly sophisticated, utterly delightful intoxication through which – yes – it's entirely possible to forget the present and bathe in the ecstatic now.

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