Last Great Wilderness - From the Ashes

Stop, listen, what's that sound? Local noise mongers come to tear your house down...

Feature by Dave Kerr | 16 Apr 2006

Following the implosion of their previous incarnation, the disillusioned Edinburgh-based outfit formerly known as Annie Christian took, as vocalist Laurence Lean attributes, "a bit of much needed time away" before regrouping and making a return in 2003 with a hipful of swagger and an approach rife with equal measures of guitar crunch and textured melodicism. "Psychologically, it was important for us to start again with a different name" Lean points out, and as such, their finest achievement to date? "Still being friends who play in a band together."

Having enjoyed relative underground success with the taut anthemia of American Pornography (a track that would snuggle up nicely beside anything the Manics put to wax with Richey James), the quartet - rounded out by guitarist Chris Adams, drummer Andrew Hastings and bassist David Hunter - have racked up an impressive tally of electric live shows as the Last Great Wilderness in the past couple of years.

The group pull spiritual and lyrical influence from an interesting array of left-wing political and pop cultural regions; "the common thread that links people such as Bill Hicks, Chris Morris, Noam Chomsky, Bret Easton Ellis - I'm very into pages 374/375 of American Psycho at the moment - Hanif Kureshi, Lou Reed and David Bowie", indeed, the mere consideration of such a mish-mash of identities evokes an allusion towards their dreamy moniker.

Having recently holed themselves up to produce fresh material, Lean considers, "what we're writing now, compared with earlier music, is the difference between Pacino in Scarface – very upfront and in your face, and Pacino in The Godfather II – looming, considered, quietly menacing." Of their sonic palette, he continues, "we're drawn to the kind of artists who have real extremes in their music, the intensity of ATDI or Levitation to the quieter introspection of The Blue Nile or The Cocteau Twins" – such dual layering is evident during numerous peaks in their sprawling instrumental 7Letters and the bittersweet brute force of the ethereal High.

As they now exist, LGW appear free of any high minded aspirations, and Laurence conveys the impression that there's some element of contentment in where they are right now, with only the most humble of asks: "When the time is right it would be nice to find a small, independent, family run label that would be happy to release as much or as little as we liked."

Aiming low, perhaps, but with a clear optimism for the scene they've emerged from, Lean suggests, "as far as we can tell there are countless bands being overlooked. There are positive signs that this will change. The Edinburgh scene is really healthy at the moment, with Baby Tiger growing ever stronger, Acoustic Underground offering something different, the resurgent Cabaret Voltaire, and Bannermans playing over 80 bands per month, there has never been a greater choice in Edinburgh."

Last Great Wilderness play Tigerfest at The Swamp Bar @ Caledonian Backpackers on April 29.