Scottish New Music Round-up: December 2021
While there aren't many big releases due this month due to it being December, there's still a thrilling collection of sounds coming out of Scotland worth seeking out
The most notable release this month comes from Glasgow-based hyperpop/gabber producer TAAHLIAH. Following the success of May’s Angelica (longlisted for The SAY Award and featured in The Skinny’s top ten Scottish albums of the year list), Angelica (Extended) takes a fresh look at some of its tracks, either supercharging them or making them somehow even more euphoric. “Most of the tracks on this project were never meant to see the light of day,” says TAAHLIAH of this new remixed mini-album. “I created them mainly for personal development or live performances. The more I’ve played them live or included them in mixes, the stronger the audience response has been.” Angelica (Extended) is due via untitled (recs) for an exclusive Bandcamp day release on 3 December, with general release landing a week later.
After a four-year hiatus, Julie Crawford’s MONKOORA project makes a welcome return this month with the stunning Night Charm. Due on 3 December via her own Labyrinths in Whack label, Night Charms twists and turns across its eight tracks, traversing numerous genres, never keeping still for too long. Describing the record as a “microcosm that exists in the night time”, opener Bloom carries you away into a dreamlike realm with gorgeous swirling pianos, its structure almost emulating the rise and fall of a chest as you descend into a deep sleep, before Celestica’s uncomfortable looped backing vocals kick in.
Later on the record, Moon Food is a dystopian sci-fi delight, and Night Walks sees Crawford channelling the 80s energy of Madonna’s Holiday over a modest bass groove and static hi-hats. Black Mould offers up the record’s most tender moment, showcasing just how unique, pure and warm Crawford’s voice is making for a really moving moment on a record that’s chock full of exciting ideas.
On the same day Paisley party starters The Vegan Leather release their brand new EP, Furious, Not Ominous. Of the nine tracks, three were previously released as singles over the course of the various lockdown restrictions in place throughout 2020 and 2021, so it’s nice to hear Gloaming, Sanctum Sound and Who’s Knocking On My Door? together now as part of a bigger release. There’s a great energy across the whole of Furious, Not Ominous, best exemplified in the casual spoken word of She Don’t (F.T.S), the scream-singing of Who’s Knocking... and the relentless Forget It. It’s also nice to hear the band exploring new ideas here; the intro, interlude and outro, in particular, are a nice touch.
Due on 10 December, one release that’s making us feel all warm and fuzzy this month comes from Hailey Beavis and Faith Eliott’s OK Pal Records as the label releases their second annual “Album in a Weekend” compilation. Prancing Queen Vol. 2 delights and amazes at every turn, especially considering that each of its 12 tracks were written and recorded over the Easter long weekend, with its musicians doing everything from fabricating blanket fort recording booths in Brighton (Kissing) to a synth-filled Glasgow living room as in the case of Pink Jammies – a group comprised of L.T. Leif, Bart Owl (eagleowl) and Liam Chapman (C Duncan, Rachel Sermanni).
The latter group’s Ambient Pink Wafers is a real highlight of a record that's full of them – from Ben Seal’s breathy Meet Me in the Fire to Meursault’s high-octane Butterfly Collector, the glorious harmonies of Double Lonely (Hailey Beavis, Robyn Dawson and Mario Cruzado) on Return and Ted Hawkins cover Sorry You’re Sick, to Faith Eliott’s delicate closer Sadie.
At the start of the month, Dundee rapper and producer MC Salum releases his bouncy debut album, Crocodile DD (1 Dec). Inspired by Drake and Noname, Crocodile DD is full of swagger, with rich, inviting production and an impressive cast of features from producer GUY GALACTIC, to rapper HITMONLEE and exceptional vocalists Priya and Gabriella Liandu. Hip-hop fans will also want to seek out new Scottish label Habibi Records this month who release two tracks featuring Edinburgh rapper CTRL – HeadGone and Al Pacino – on 9 and 23 December respectively. They also release the super catchy pop-fuelled Beside You at the end of the month from producer Bakersville and singer Joey Locke (30 Dec).
Finally, Glasgow production duo Silicone Soul release Darkroom Dubs Vol. V via their own Darkroom Dubs label (10 Dec), and there are new singles from Josephine Sillars (I’ll See You When I See You, 1 Dec) and Peter Johnstone (Love Bug, 7 Dec). But what better way to finish off the last column of the year than with a trio of Christmas singles? Becci Wallace’s Ghost (1 Dec) is twinkling, full of hope and for those “affected by Christmas due to adversity or painful memories". Pelts’ Parachute Silk is for the Christmas romantics, while Lucifer’s Christmas by Dale is for “those who don’t fit in and feel isolated over the festive season”, with all proceeds going to Tiny Changes.