Tuesday, February 06, 2007

THE MARCIA BLAINE SCHOOL FOR GIRLS: Halfway Into The Woods (Highpoint Lowlife)

THE MARCIA BLAINE SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
Halfway Into The Woods
HPLL024
Highpoint Lowlife 2007
11 Tracks. 61mins01secs




Buy it: CD
The Marcia Blaine School For Girls | Highpoint Lowlife

Scotland has been delivering some fine electronic acts with insistent regularity, from the beautifully melodic and innovative Boards Of Canada to some of the acts from the Benbecula stable. The Marcia Blaine School For Girls, a trio hailing from Glasgow, have released some very promising EPs on Static Caravan, Awkward Silence and Metal On Metal, since they first appeared in 1997, and the compilation of Scottish electronica they put together for Highpoint Lowlife in 2005, Some Paths Lead Back Again, which predominantly featured work from the collective and its satellite projects, as well as tracks from the likes of Izu or Chris Dooks, was a rather tasty appetizer.

In 2005, Highpoint Lowlife released the excellent debut album by Marcia Blaine member Ruaridh Law, under his Village Orchestra guise. Halfway Into The Woods shares with Law's cut a flair for beautiful melodic themes wrapped in lush electronic soundscapes, layered over crisp rhythmic pattern. The Marcia Blaine crew however expand on the gentle psychedelic tones and create elegant shimmering pieces which appear to continuously blossom and morph. Right from the outset, the collective set the tone by progressively building The Secret Of The Mezzanine from an ethereal wave into an ever changing series of colourful sonic patterns. From there on, nothing comes to disturb the Marcia Blaine purpose as they progressively close the door on reality and unveil their fantastic dream world. All the way through, the tone alternates between moody pieces (Boris, Last Game Of Mercy, Pink Inside) and mesmerizing intricate compositions (Rude Mechanical, Last Game Of The Mercy, Qoelet). Elsewhere, MBSFG dip their feet into surprisingly pop territory when they incorporate vocals into their dense electronic structures on the effervescent Still and Yugo Or Iago.

On Milk And Honey, the trio swap light ethereal formations for darker, more chilling textures, concluding this album on a surprisingly unsettling and sombre note, yet, while the atmosphere becomes more oppressive, there is always in the distance a glimmer of light which guides the listener gently back to the real world.

As a teaser to this album, the band have made available a companion remix EP, free to download from the Highpoint Lowlife website, with contributions from Maps & Diagram, Izu, Dextro, Talve or Erstaub amongst others, each artist providing a different twist on the originals. While some choose to remain close to the Marcia Blaine sonic template, Izu, Erstaub, Dextro and Orphax turn the collective sound upside down and rampage freely through their delicate structures, throwing harsh electronics, electric guitars and isolationist forms against the trio’s graceful electronics.

With Halfway Into The Woods, The Marcia Blaine School For Girls finally deliver the fine collection of atmospheric electronica they have been promising for years. While the beautiful soundscapes and melodies deployed here will undoubtedly please those who fell in love with The Village Orchestra, the wider scope of this record, together with its consistency, is likely to gain the trio a whole new fan base.

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