The Roxy Art House, Edinburgh
It’s the quiet ones you have to watch. Take Eagleowl, the slow-core chamber quartet whose presence has been crucial in Edinburgh’s cottage industry musical renaissance over the last half decade. Guitarist and vocalist Bart Owl alone is a Zelig-like figure, both in his guise as promoter under The Gentle Invasion banner, as well as popping up all over the place playing with other like-minded souls. Tonight he even guests with his own support act The Douglas Firs, a local scene super-group made up of members of Jesus H Foxx, The Pineapple Chunks and St Jude’s Infirmary.
The main event, though, is to launch the Mayday release of Eagleowl’s new Into The Fold EP, which half tonight’s set is drawn from. Opening with the title track, a languid campfire swoon on which Bart and double bassist Clarissa Cheong trade melodic whispers over Malcolm Benzie’s scraped violin and Rob St John’s harmonium drone, it’s a typically shy tone-setter. What follows is a beguiling display of shimmeringly textured melancholy full of open spaces where ordinarily drums might be.
With a partisan audience in tow, the band’s nervy banter is at odds with the seriousness of last year’s gorgeous single, Sleep The Winter, which sounds like its been hibernating in the backwoods Appalachians. The jaunty glockenspiel and mandolin-led merseybeat waltz of Morpheus gives way to the finale of No Conjunction, on which the core ensemble are joined onstage by six friends and collaborators who become a speakeasy choir on an already epic slow-burning hymnal. As all instrumentation save for a capella voices gradually drop out, the most home-spun of redemption songs emerges. Let’s hear it for quiet music.
The Herald, May 3rd 2010