King Tut's, Glasgow, Fri June 7th


A droning cello, looping back on itself as a sampler chews up and spits out the sounds. That'll be tRANSELEMENt then? No, surprisingly not, a running order change means that onstage is Bill Wells - master of the freeform and whose name carries the mandatory suffix 'jazz maverick'. Stranger still, partnering him is one Isobel Campbell - recently having departed Belle and Sebastian mid-US tour. No breathy vocals, nor selections from her forthcoming album (with Wells) of Billie Holiday standards. Instead, cello in hand, she delivers a improvised sequence of scales and snippets of vaguely familiar tunes, occasionally played pizzicato. Wells' sampler provides the fortissimo with an often deafening wall of noise. So, what more suitable outlet for all this than Glasgow's Creeping Bent label, which epitomises the term 'eclectic'.   

Perhaps unsurprisingly there are no Belle and Sebastian covers on show; a theme continued by that band's occasional hired hand, Monica Queen, who instead concentrates on her recent '10 Sorrowful Mysteries' album. Performing in candlelit half-darkness, the stripped-down set and Queen's plaintive vocal, from 'I'm Sorry Darling' through to the sublime '77x', is a melange of bittersweet Americana.

Try and pigeonhole tRANSELEMENt, however and you have a job on your hands. An all-seated 4-piece act with an array of samplers, they're not all they seem. From the almost-medieval 'Wet Deck' to the rather more contemporary stop-start rhythms of 'September in June' they constantly change and confound - a touch of flamenco here, some decidedly prog rock stylings there. Their mix of musical genres from avant-garde to pop pretty much encapsulates the label. Looks like Bent is the new straight.


This review originally appeared in The List