Five Right Now: <br> Joy & Struggle

Edinburgh’s Joy & Struggle formed in 2016 with the idea to create atmospheric and inventive arrangements of the folk songs that singer Niamh Joyce floored guitarist Alasdair Kampff with at their first meeting. Adding accomplished jazz-funk drummer Alex Palmer brought added muscle to the ethereal escapism that their effects-laden sound offers, and the band have gone on to release their self-titled debut EP through Dead Hound Records.

Given their intrinsic connections with the music scene in Edinburgh and beyond, the band gave Secret Meeting some tips on who we should be checking out…

The Moonlands (picked by Alex Palmer, drums)

The Moonlands consist of 4 multi-instrumentalist/songwriters in their own right, banded together in a harmonious balance. They are also close friends; Matt and Mischa whom I befriended through playing in jazz-funk outfit Jambouree, the latter I continue to work with in Nimbus…and Nick and Tenzin whom I met through the extended jammers friend group. They also share the old flat on Thirlestane Road that I spent many years in my time in Edinburgh.

Each has a unique voice and sound to bring to the music: Tenzin’s percussive fire, Nick’s evocative piano stylings, Mischas virtuoso melodic feel on the bass and Matt’s striking falsetto and refined guitar technique. Yet they all manage to swap instruments seamlessly on stage or in session and inject a fluidity and expert control of pace into their live set. Lush harmonies and grounded in folk traditions, yet with modern twists to keep you on your toes; they are best experienced live in bespoke settings.

Rénovations (picked by Alasdair Kampff, guitar)

Rénovations are an Edinburgh-based European power trio mixing old-school grunge and rock with electronic elements. I know their bass player and singer Charlotte from local venue (and centre of so many local scenes) The Jazz Bar, where I do sound and where she worked for a time at the bar.

We’ve also shared a bill with them in Joy & Struggle at Leith Depot, and loved their buzzsaw guitar, multilingual lyrics, and synth-wielding drummer. Their new video, La Radio, was shot at The Biscuit Factory, and looks and sounds fantastic. We can’t wait to play with them again.

Taupe (picked by Alex)

The first time I witnessed this band live my mind was blown. It was a DIY gig at Henry’s Cellar Bar in early 2016. I was sitting to the side of the drummer, Adam, for most of the gig, trying to work out the patterns he was splitting between his limbs, mouth agape.

The band’s sound is other-worldy, perhaps skronky is a suitable term (my bandmate Tom Pickles’ favoured term for abrasive jazz/metal mash-up groups), combining Jamie Stockbridge’s crisp alto saxophone, Mike Parr Burman’s electric guitar (with some awesome textural efx) and Adam Stapleford on drum-kit (he is a monster). They navigate through the polyrhymic arrangements with utter precision, but always giving it an explosive, unpredictable energy… no gig is the same experience.

Based between Manchester and Glasgow they have built up a solid cult following from touring and their latest release was recorded with forward thinking engineer and producer Luigi Pasquini at the late Anchor Lane Studio, their collaboration resulting in a raw, in-your-face recording that really captures the live energy. Check them out asap!

Chuchoter (picked by Alasdair)

Chuchoter are an Edinburgh/Glasgow indie-electronic duo who I’ve known for a couple of years. I’m good friends with Owen, their resident synth wizard, and we’re both sound techs in the same scenes. He’s adept at creating dense, pulsing soundscapes for vocalist Emily to deliver impassioned and dark relationship tales over. Despite the intensity, Chuchoter somehow keep things squarely pop, and are hugely enjoyable live. Their summertime 3-track release, I’m Good, is a great place to start.

Amara (picked by Alex)

I first came across Amara at a fundraiser event in Glasgow Autonomous Space, a dimly lit converted events space and community hub where all sorts of performances and styles are welcome. It was a trio arrangement: keys , guitar/flute and drums. Very improvisational and communicative music, free jazz and spiritual vibes. Came out of nowhere and made a big impression. Then one of my favourite bass players and a friend of mine Norman Villeroux of ex Edinburgh doomfunkers Junky Fam joined the group and I was hooked.

They are currently making waves in the Glasgow jazz and alternative scene for their inspired long play live sets and have collaborated with African and American musicians in The Glasgow Balafon Orchestra whom have just released a cracking debut record Jungle Fever.

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