|Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert|
|Here Lies the Body|
Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert — Here Lies the Body (11 May 2018)★¡★ Sex and death. Love and life. Family, fortune, faith, and fear. Guitar, voices, cello, sax, Roland, wolves. Leggings and jeggings, the multiverse and marshmallows. The debut album by Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert.
Location: Falkirk, Scotland
Album release: 11 May 2018
Record Label: Rock Action Records
01 Cockcrow (feat. Siobhan Wilson) 3:35
02 Mz. Locum 3:24
03 She Runs 4:02
04 Quantum Theory Love Song 2:44
05 Wolves of the Wood 1:58
06 Keening for a Dead Love 3:24
07 Zoltar Speaks 2:41
08 Party On 3:48
09 Everything Goes 4:10
10 Fringe 4:43
© 2017 Rock Action Records
✹ Frank Arkwright Mastering
✹ John Burgess Clarinet, Saxophone
✹ Tony Doogan Mixing
✹ Rachel Grimes Composer, Piano
✹ RM Hubbert Composer, Guitar, Voices
✹ Aidan Moffat Composer, Drums, Keyboards, Voices
✹ Bridget Mullin Wails
✹ Paul Savage Engineer
✹ Siobhan Wilson Cello, Voices
By Ian King / 07 MAY 2018, 17:42 BST / SCORE: 8.5
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
• Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert’s Here Lies the Body is a bittersweet masterclass in narrative songwriting.
• Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert, prior collaborators and Scottish Album of the Year Award winners both, have come together on Here Lies the Body to create a saudade story that starts with former lovers briefly crossing paths and ends with an idyllic squat in the forest.
• The tone of the fated meeting captured in Cockcrow is conveyed by the hands of Hubbert, fingers rapping nervously on the body of his acoustic guitar, the restless tic of someone checking their phone once a minute. Moffat and guest vocalist Siobhan Wilson (who also contributes cello on the album) trade lines with frank assessment of the two characters’ untenable connection, the compatibility of their lilting voices making it all the more difficult for the eavesdropping listener to accept.
• This is the album’s subtle friction: unsparing novelistic detail set against the beautiful threading of Hubbert’s guitar with Wilson’s cello, lush piano from Rachel Grimes, and saxophone from John Burgess.
• Many albums that Moffat has made, from Arab Strap to his recent Scottish folk music travels with Where You’re Meant to Be, have been built around a knotted story, and Here Lies the Body is no exception. The plot, to the extent one has been conceived, comes quickly in the uneven lust of “Mz. Locum” and the spoken word travelogue through a woman’s youth in “She Runs”. “Quantum Theory Love Song” returns to the conversation between the ex~flames, Moffat hypothesizing how famously they’d be getting along in a parallel universe.
• Then he stops himself, “I know what you’re thinking…”, and the song quietly flips its balance of wistful and playful, what she’s thinking being not that they might find love in another galaxy, but that the idea of the multiverse is just speculation anyway. Moffat’s cadence brightens, Burgess’ saxophone drifts lightly in, and you almost feel like you’re in a world weary parallel universe version of Gregory’s Girl, conversing over empty glasses on a dimly lit bar table instead of strolling through the Cumbernauld outskirts in the drawn out dusk. “And I’m sure you’re right,” Moffat concedes in one of the record’s most touching moments, “But let’s stare at the stars and see what we want to see.”
• “Zoltar Speaks” is, of course, a more direct reference to another 1980s film, Big, though there’s no mention of Tom Hanks. The universe — this time real and not hypothetical — comes back again as well, on the closing “Fringe”. On a trip outside the city, a look up at the open sky reveals “Cassiopeia and Cepheus/Andromeda and Perseus/All one big happy family at last.” Of course, this is Moffat, so the stargazer is off for a pee in the woods. “She thinks she sees her shooting star/But she’s not sure enough to wish”.
• Perhaps it’s the sensitive touch Hubbert has as he tugs his strings, but Here Lies the Body holds a sweeter and more sentimental Moffat than one might expect. Some of these songs could be parallel universe versions of Arab Strap tales; the scenes quite similar, but the perspective lightened, finding tender humor in human intimacy that’s tart but not bitter. • https://www.thelineofbestfit.com/
Words by Reef Younis, Score: 7
■♠■ For the last 20 years, Aidan Moffat has made an art form of cajoling emotion. Whether it’s creating a Highland sense of comfort, an inebriated menace or scything stories with caustic wit, his spoken word delivery has always found a perfect balance between the melodic and melancholic — and it’s no different on ‘Here Lies the Body’.
■♠■ As always, the guitar and voice are the heart of the record with Moffat’s grizzled words artfully interlacing revealing monologues, deadpan deliveries and dramatic soliloquies with a gruff ease around the delicate, spidery guitar work of RM Hubbert.
■♠■ On the tender woodwind of ‘Quantam Theory Love Song’, Moffat might posit sweet thoughts like “let’s stare at the stars and see what we want to see” but on ‘Keening for a Dead Love’, his voice hangs heavy over a slow, sombre procession of strings and piano. And while his low burr reverberates through the theatrical campfire tale of ‘Wolves of the Wood’, it’s ‘Mz. Locum’ that has Moffat at his funny and forlorn best as he nails heart~on~sleeve unrequitedness (“without her I live, but less so”) with a nod and a wink (“she’s a bombshell in leggings / A goddess in jeggings / But she’s best when they’re all on the floor”).
■♠■ The result is a set of songs that come to life with a storied, bright~eyed wisdom, but no single track captures the Moffat dichotomy quite like ‘Party On’. Set against the backdrop of a samba carnival drum line, you’d think he’s switched Falkirk for Fortaleza. He hasn’t, but it’s unexpected moments like this that continue to make his work a national treasure. ■♠■ https://www.loudandquiet.com/
About Aidan Moffat
• The singing/mumbling half of Arab Strap — once credited after partner Malcolm Middleton, who was credited with “most things musical,” with “most things not” — Aidan Moffat (actually a multi~instrumentalist and songwriter) spent the first half of the ‘90s shuffling between a couple bands, including the Angry Buddhists and Bay. He and Middleton formed Arab Strap in 1995. Together, they released six studio albums through 2006 filled with alcohol~soaked tales of romantic relationships that tended to emphasize their lecherous aspects. In 2002, Moffat began recording on the side as Lucky Pierre, beginning with the samples and electronics heavy Hypnogogia. Six years later, he released a poetry~oriented album of mostly minute~long vignettes titled I Can Hear Your Heart, credited to his full name, Aidan John Moffat. A return to downcast songs, backed by a small band dubbed the Best~Ofs, came with 2009’s How to Get to Heaven from Scotland. For 2011’s Everything’s Getting Older, he worked with jazz composer and multi~instrumentalist Bill Wells. He issued The Island Come True under the Lucky Pierre moniker in 2013, and released a second collaboration with Wells, The Most Important Place in the World, in 2015. ~ Andy Kellman
BY NO MORE WORKHORSE ON APRIL 28, 2018 •
Album Review by Killian Laher
■♠■ One of the highlights of both Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert’s material in the last six or seven years was their collaboration on Hubbert’s second album; Car Song. So it makes sense that the brooding Moffat would team up with flamenco guitarist Hubbert and record an album.
■♠■ Opener Cockcrow is something of a red herring. A duet between Moffat and fellow Scot Siobhan Wilson, it’s the track here that most bears the imprint of Hubbert’s guitar style, coming off like one of his solo pieces with Moffat and Wilson as hired guests. The rest of the album deviates from this, Mz. Locum has a classic Moffat delivery and lyrical theme, that of the old chancer getting up close and personal with a medic. It’s accompanied, like much of the album, by Hubbert’s intricate yet understated guitar work.
■♠■ For those who enjoyed the aforementioned Car Song, there are a couple of songs here which share its tone. She Runs has Moffat reminiscing as Hubby’s guitar is joined by pulsing electronics, while later Zoltan Speaks is more yearning and general fairground memories over video game noises!
■♠■ Blissful guitar introduces Quantum Theory Love Song, another track that features Wilson, along with strings and woodwind, and it’s as good as anything any of them have recorded in the last ten years, as is strange ballad Keening for a Dead Love, which features what might be a throat singer in the background and a sort of Spanish jazz feel. These seemingly disparate elements unfathomably combine together really well.
■♠■ Party On, though far away from The First Big Weekend of the Summer, takes the spirit of Arab Strap and channels it into a more gentle anthem. After the mellow drawl of Everything Goes, on final track Fringe, Moffat’s tale is accompanied by Hubbert’s brooding, widescreen guitar.
■♠■ On first listening, not so much stands out but these are songs which continue to reveal themselves after many listens. A highpoint for both RM Hubbert and Aidan Moffat. ■♠■ https://nomoreworkhorse.com/
|Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert|
|Here Lies the Body|