A ghost, a beast is an itchy unsettling record, often teetering on one edge or another. All of it though, 10 times more interesting and engaging than your more polished indie-shoegaze noisemaker.
Edinburgh seems to be a bit of a breeding ground for slightly ravaged art rock eccentrics toting cellos. Zed Penguin have been around a while, ploughing not a dissimilar furrow to fellow citizens The Leg, who in turn have collaborated with Paul Vickers late of Dawn of the Replicants to similar effect. While Zed Penguin don’t have quite the same ebullient menace of some of The Leg’s compositions, they share a freewheeling, spaced-out approach to making a racket which can conjure loveliness and discord in equal measure.
This album starts off with a bit of the former, Out on the Deadly Hume being a relatively upbeat jangle of an instrumental which eases you in gently on its sliding strings. Wandering serves as an entry in to the album proper – a woozy, boozy echoing ballad that twists and drawls its UNPOCian hollered harmonies. And the rest follows in that vein, guitars more or less harsh and looping, vocals more or less staring-eyed or drawling, background noises more or less spacey and lovely. None of it ever feels quite settled, it’s itchy and often teetering on one edge or another. And all of it 10 times more interesting and engaging than your more polished indie-shoegaze noisemaker.
I really ought to go to Edinburgh one day, even though I can’t play the cello…