EP Review: Golden Teacher – Sauchiehall Enthrall
Posted by Mark Shields
As a relative old timer I feel like in the past few years there has been a challenging of what it means to be a ‘Scottish’ group. Hector Bizerk, championed on this very site in all corners, and Young Fathers, one of the most incendiary support acts I’ve ever seen when they appeared in front of Why? at SWG3 all those years ago, have not only pushed the boundaries of what music can do on the outset with challenging sounds and new directions, but have also realigned what people think of as Scottish music – it’s no longer American-accented vocals that just so happens to come from a G, EH, AB or AY postcode. It’s not even the startlingly bare vocals of The Twilight Sad or Frightened Rabbit, but the sound of a musical culture pulling from all influences and from all parts of the world, a true reflection of a modern Scotland.
The internet has almost certainly helped in this regard, creating the space to find the audience that before bands would have never ever been able to reach. Even in my time at university, over a decade ago (that really pains me to write that and it be true) the discovery of bands was still then limited to the covers of NME, the ‘Recommended Shelf’ at Virgin, or maybe a fledging American website called Pitchfork. It’s easier to discover stuff that sounds like nothing else, but that in-turn makes it harder for this stuff to be heard, and when something does catch your attention and stops you in your tracks you pay more attention. That is how the story of Golden Teacher goes, that JD Twitch found heard this mob once and decided to release their early work.
They are proof that you don’t really know what you’re missing until it hits you square in the face. This six-piece formed from a collaboration between two other bands and found an incredible sound that is quite difficult to describe – it is parts electro, part house, and part jazz, with an afrobeat thread running through. The most immediate track on the four track EP is side B, track 1 On the Street which has a slowed down Aphex Twin backing beat, full of hand clap snares and pounding Burial style bass, but over the top is a Latino influenced vocal that gets louder and more pointed as it reaches the crescendo of the track.
And even then I feel like I am unable to write in a way that even comes close to being representative – trying to boil them down to what I think they sound like is like trying to describe what a rainbow is like to a dog. My view is coloured by what I’ve heard, and what I am trying to focus it down into. You’ll hear something different from me, I am sure, but that’s a good thing. And everywhere I’ve read about them say that live is their true calling, and from the record I can say I believe it.
In my other guise as a avant garde electronica podcast host I’ve came across loads of groups trying to do stuff like this and not quite getting it right. There are links to musique concrete here too, with the flat wall of grey-sounding instrumentation and the low-fidelity synth lines, reusing ’80’s bleeps and stabs low in the mix to new effect, reminding me of how early Errors, like on their debut EP, used similar sounds to chart new courses. This won’t agree with everyone, but that is surely not their intent. Those of use willing to brave new music deserve to find something actually new that you’ve never heard before, and sometimes it feels like that’s becoming harder and harder. Golden Teacher fly in the face of this, and Sauchiehall Enthrall is accomplished and sure-footed in a way I’ve not heard before.
Golden Teacher – Sauchiehall Enthrall is out now and is available on vinyl to buy here.