DUNCAN LYALL – Milestone (Red Deer Records RDRCD2101)

MilestoneDuncan Lyall has been accustomed to making his living playing bass but his talents reach much further than that (no offence to bass players intended). Since parting company with Treacherous Orchestra he has concentrated on his own new music using synths – but he still plays bass. Milestone represents the latest fruits of his endeavours, marking significant places and people in his life.. Here you will find five original tracks, one co-written with Lori Watson, and one traditional song also arranged with Lori. There is support from the cream of contemporary Scottish folk music: Jarlath Henderson, Patsy Reid, Angus Lyon, Chas Mackenzie and Stuart Brown as well as Lori herself. Duncan takes on his other regular role as producer.

The opening track, ‘Wind In The Trees’, is the co-write. Duncan describes struggling to get Milestone started but was inspired by the wind rustling the trees outside his flat one evening so he recorded the sound and then wrote the tune that forms the basis of the track. Lori added a song for the middle section of the composition and the project was underway.

‘Barnacarry Bay’ dates back to 2004 and was written after a beach party to celebrate the release of Talk Of The Future, the second album by Croft No.5 with whom Duncan played until they broke up a couple of years later. Duncan describes the setting as “wild, beautiful, frenzied and glorious”, although frenzied may refer to the partying, and you can hear all that in the music, from the rolling and crashing of the sea to the exuberance of the celebration.

The traditional song is an extraordinary arrangement of ‘Twa Corbies’ sung by Lori. The verses are heavy with percussion and strangeness but the closing instrumental section is rather sweet in comparison before settling into a groove. ‘Roli’ finds Duncan on piano initially before the synths and drums sweep in. The piece is dedicated to a pet rabbit – you have to write about something – and is perhaps the most conventional piece on the album.

Duncan describes ‘Z’ as “a stream of discontented consciousness” written over a heavy drum loop. It’s jazz influenced and free and you’ll find yourself checking to see who is playing alto sax – it’s more of Duncan’s synth wizardry. Despite the angst that lies behind its composition it is one of album’s top tracks. ‘Titan’ is inspired by Glastonbury Festival and I can see that: even less exotic festivals can feel like another planet sometimes. You can judge for yourselves from the video below.

Milestone is another splendid album coming from the ridiculously talented young musicians of Scotland and Duncan Lyall in particular.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.duncanlyall.com

‘Titan’ – official video: