Richard Youngs & Alex Neilson – Partick Raindance

3 out of 5

Label: VHF

Produced by: Richard Youngs & Alex Neilson (?)

The two inventive musicians from Glasgow once again team up for… a discordant experience.

While I’m really only familiar with Alexander Neilson via his work with Richard Youngs, the latter’s output is at least enough to know that you can never quite expect which version of the artist you’re likely to hear: brash noise; wandering improv; pared back acoustics… As Partick Rain Dance kicks off with Neilson’s drums clattering all over Chamber, beset by lovely feedback and squall, it seems like we’re in for some good ol’ cacophony. Indeed, while the 16 minute Music of the Lost Sun segues through vastly varying soundscapes of lull and violence, it still errs toward a sense of aggression, and remains stunning throughout. The comparatively short Noatak Beacon stops short, though: repeated loops of Youngs voice and not much else. It’s an interesting break, but it loses some of the propulsive momentum that came from, perhaps, letting Neilson lead. Beacon, instead, sounds much more traditionally “improvised,” and lets the loop just kind of play out. This trend is continued on Lost Sun’s sister track, Mountain, which flips the script and has Young offering up toned down squeals of noise while Neilson pitter patters along. I can imagine this track as working well amongst similar ones, but its such a hard turnaround from how the disc opened that, for me, it’s a little disappointing. Closer Big Aeroplanes feels like a footnote after that.

Perhaps listened to as vinyl sides – one purposefully juxtaposing the other, appreciating each side as its own entity – Partick Rain Dance’s effect could be less disruptive. Alas, I don’t think it’s available on vinyl, so it comes across as one, complete album. It’s opening moments kick all sorts of ass, but that makes its more contemplative back half pale in comparison, despite offering up interesting tracks in and of themselves.