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Featured Ailsa Craig Release:
Carriage Return marks Ailsa Craig’s last stand, and chronicles their final recordings, packaging them up in a limited edition hand-silk screen printed sleeve, made to order by legendary Slaithwaite printmaker, Dan Booth.
While the vicissitudes of Cameron-Land PLC gathered pace with the oily momentum of back handers, cronyism and creeping civic disintegration, Ailsa Craig sketched out a soundtrack from dusty samples, spindly guitars, icy vocals, low slung post-dub bass and fractured electronica to produce a kind of downer-pop that painted introverted brushstrokes of what it meant to be the forgotten and discarded classes in Post-Industrial Britain.
Started in 2007 by Matt Robson as a jumping off-point from his solo electronic project Random Number (Rock Action Records/Moamoo/Rocket Racer) the band was quickly augmented with Caroline McChrystal on vocals (of The Manhattan Love Suicides/Blanche Hudson Weekend/Pop Threat fame) and bass guitarist Lee Hooper, who Robson had worked with previously in the band Sierpinski.
They would be joined, over the years, by a series of guest performers from Leeds’ musical underground that would add brass, strings and guitars to their patchwork of sound.
The band would record just two solitary albums, 2009’s A Silent No and 2011’s Imperial Cold, and their live performances were few and far between. But their quintessentially English mood music was always arresting and evocative. If you were lucky enough to see them live, and with particular reference to their highpoint London Dalston Victoria performance, the band’s intense, yet insular nature could draw you effortlessly into their world of disenfranchisement and alienation.
Carriage Return works as a kind of postscript to Imperial Cold, neatly rounding up the affairs of the band and bringing the project to its conclusion. It showcases neatly the multiple faces of Ailsa Craig. Opener “ A New Way” is a twinkling slice of organic post-electronica adorned in morphing hammer-dulcimer samples, “Sweet Tornado” re-imagines the R&B pop song as if filtered through the lens of rustic post rock and electronica crafted in the high Dales of Yorkshire, whilst “Your Cast Iron Wins & Our Eternal Sadness” is Ailsa Craig’s grand fanfare to the glory of the working classes, resplendent in strident church organs, propulsive bass and warehouse scale drums. The album closes with the guitar pop of “Stories I’m Hearing” - a nod to McChrystal’s indie pop roots, and a farewell of sorts to her services to the band.
Released: Wednesday 29th January 2014