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Various Artists

Last Night From Glasgow: Isolation Sessions March & April 2020

Last Night From Glasgow

Released: 30th October 2020

2xLP coloured vinyl£24.99Out of Stock
CD£9.99 Buy Now In Stock. Dispatched tomorrow.
2XLP Monorail Exclusive Pink Vinyl£4.99 (was £24.99) Offer Buy Now In Stock. Dispatched tomorrow.

Monorail exclusive, translucent pink vinyl, limited to 125.

Its streets empty and grey, Glasgow endured March and April of 2020 locked indoors. Even now, with social lives tentatively taking up again things feel like they’ll never be the same. Back in March it was difficult to really comprehend what was happening in real time, news reports and government policies were constantly bombarding us with baffling regularity. Our staff and customers walked through a slowly evolving ghost town to come in to Monorail. We would make a decision based on our opening hours or social distancing policy only for them to be moribund the next day. Eventually in mid-March we decided to close indefinitely, pre-empting the national directive for all non-essential shops to close. It feels like an understatement to call those anxious weeks uncertain. As always though, there are lights in the inky night.

As the U.K. retreated indoors, local label Last Night From Glasgow were already looking for ways to bring a little hope and music to the socially distant. First, in April, we collaborated with them on a Monorail-Exclusive version pink vinyl version of Cloth’s debut which sold out in a day and now there is Isolation Sessions. The brainchild of label head Ian Smith, Isolation Sessions is a family affair. With a specific geographical focus, the label has nonetheless built a stable that ranges from one of our favourite local groups Cloth to veteran kandy poppers Bis, from garage muck Slime City to melancholy Americana groups like Life Model. Isolation Sessions features 22 artists on the label covering each other, teasing out nuances in each others songs, or even doing the originals justice with straight-ahead tributes. It’s an ambitious endeavour and a sense of love and community between these artists pervades the album, its a collection of songs that that invites listeners into their family.

Perhaps it's the circumstances in which this music came into the world that lends a kind of thread to these songs. These artists areused to socialising and being a part of each other’s world, yet here they were forced to isolate. There’s a distinct sadness, an introspection and melancholy that pervades much of Isolations Sessions but like the best sad music there’s much to uplift, the sound of loneliness a beacon for other lonely hearts. So much of the 22 tracks on this compilation feel like people stretching out metaphorical hands of friendship and comfort to each other.

Even the act of covering someone else’s song is an act of love, in a way. It’s getting inside the songwriter’s mind, their space, for a short period to work out how they and their songs tick. Perhaps there’s also something to be said about the physical circumstances of how this music was recorded. Mostly made in houses rather than studios, perhaps under late night curfews, whispering into the microphone instead of belting it out for fear of waking the kids. It all lends a disarming humanity to much of the music here. Mt. Doubt cover Sister John on the opening track Nothing Else with a plaintive piano chord progression and Leo Bargery’s voice all lullaby and slow burn. It reminds us a little of The National, with a nice refrain “nothing else but love in the air” providing a guiding principle for this double LP. Glasgow trio Cloth’s follow up is, as we’ve come to expect, just beautiful. Originally by Annie Booth, the music and vocal brings to mind High-era Blue Nile, with a beautiful whispered vocal that is fragile in the right way, self-assured in its vulnerability. Rachel Swinton’s vocal performance is never going to fail to stir hearts and with the pared down, tastefully minimal arrangement here it’s to die for.

Annie Booth is featured plenty on the double LP, with Broken Chanter’s E-bow and drum machine rendition of her track Still an emotive burner, with sonics not unlike a moody Arab Strap song. As a performer she returns the favour to Cloth with a cover of Sleep, which is cut down even more to a simple acoustic guitar and vocal piece, rendered close to the mic, clear as a lighthouse in the night. The legendary Close Lobsters - who released a new album on Last Night From Glasgow recently - provide one of the strange twists of the album with a cover of Cloth’s Curiosity Door. Cloth’s original is a nocturnal, slow ember of a track caressed with angular and sparse guitar work but here the track is turned into a motorik piledriver with a sinister edge bolstered by spiky guitar and tremolo effects. It’s scarcely the same song, which is great of course, a completely different take. Foundlings take on Close Lobster’s Under London Skies from said album (Post Neo Anti) but give it an almost spring-like optimism, Amber Price’s vocal jumping an octave towards the end like sun bursting through a grey cloud. Even casual observers of Glasgow music will no doubt be familiar with Kandy Pop by Bis (who were the first ever “unsigned” band to play on Top Of The Pops of course): here it's faithfully smashed out by Slime City. It sounds live and heavy, we’re not going to ask how they managed to record such a spirited version while remaining 2 metres apart. Bis reciprocate with Slime City’s Dial Up Internet Is The Purest Internet: a slinky electroclash dance slammer which breaks out into indie pop tones on the choruses before bringing in the breakbeats. It actually reminds us quite a lot of Devo, which is of course not a bad thing.

Isolation Sessions might have been a product of some uncertain, maybe bleak times, but the wide variety of sounds across these 2 discs serve as serotonin and melotonin shots, depending on which track you’re listening to. It’s testament to the resourcefulness of the artists involved who rose to the challenge of their own personal situations and to their love of community and we’re proud to partner again with Last Night From Glasgow on this loving postcard from the G postcodes.