The Delgados The Great Eastern (Signed Copies)

Label
Chemikal Underground
Released
16th January 2023

Format Info

LP - Signed
Signed LP

What is it they say about everything you’ve been searching for being under your nose the whole time? The Delgados, as musical group behind the Chemikal Underground label were partly responsible for taking the warped central Scotland sound of the mid to late 90s into global permeance. As a group though, they formed the 3rd part in the unholy Chemikal triumvirate with Mogwai and Arab Strap. Not as, well, instrumental as Mogwai and not as grimy as the Strap the Delgados always possessed a majesty of their own and they’re a group that, having split up at the height of their powers, should have been touring the same massive venues globally as their label mates.

When The Great Eastern surfaced it blew the group’s sound up to panoramic proportions. Like Mogwai at the time they drafted crack producer David Fridmann for mixing and production duties and the result is a unstoppably beautiful, grand vision borne of the studio, the group’s boundless imagination and a sense of wonder at the possibility of structure and sound. It’s predecessor Peloton showed the lightyears-ahead songwriting prowess of dual songwriters Emma Pollock and Alun Woodward but The Great Eastern was loaded with a seeming orchestra of sound: woodwind, strings, brass, synths, those big drum sounds that Fridmann specialises in. The band work wonders with it, managing to sound both massive, full and yet pared to the essential parts.

The Delgados always sounded exactly themselves, a sound that still feels incomparable. Sure sometimes in Woodward’s delivery there’s a restrained world-weariness that yanks at the heart – made more effective when it explodes into full stereo sound as on American Trilogy – that reminds us a little of Norman Blake’s vocal delivery. Accused Of Stealing has that lurching Velvets rhythm supporting Pollock’s snake-like melody. These are all glancing comparisons however; who else could marry an utterly disarming duet between the two singers that gets swallowed by star-lit codas and what sounds like a scratched Bond-theme string sections dredged up from a shark-infested pool.

Really, the vision on The Great Eastern is pretty breathtaking. It’s so cinematic in scope and the production tricks are a real joy to listen back to. If, like us, you’re familiar with the record, it’s spine-chilling listening back to those little Delgados moments that you’ve maybe not listened back to in a while. If Mogwai, for example, made ample use of volume with their quiet / loud dynamic, The Delgados do it with volume, emotional resonance. On Aye Today, the cans or speakers or hell, these days, your laptop speakers erupt with pure, golden stereo syrup. Even when the bass kicks in in certain parts it triggers that unique feeling music can do, specially if you’re familiar. FUCK yes that bass part! It can feel like it fills in a part of you that’s been missing, that’s what sound and its evocation of memory can do.

If you’re listening for the first time, this is what you can do with a song, with sound, with a heft dose of Central Scotland dreichery and a massive valley-full of imagination and chutzpah.

What a brilliant record, it’s been sitting under our noses the whole time. To celebrate The Delgados reforming to play shows this year the band have agreed to sign copies of The Great Eastern, available while stocks last.