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IZU
Going Salamander

HPLL018
Highpoint Lowlife Records 2006
11 Tracks. 43mins03secs

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Ronnie McPherson’s sharp mutant take on techno first came to light on Glasgow’s Stuff Records. Two tracks on this album - Jumpers and North Star - featured on 2004’s Izu vs The Andies EP. More recently McPherson’s material – again under the Izu moniker - surfaced on last year’s Marcia Blaine School For Girls excellent compilation of Scottish electronica Some Paths Lead Back Again.

On this, his debut album, McPherson is at his best when he manipulates vocals, nowhere more so than on the rave tinged Polish Trouble which features a manic, child-like vocal skulking deep within a crashing industrial melody. Throughout, a dark brooding theme builds to a centre stage that is never quite illuminated. Instead a sense of menace looms, ever-present but hidden in the shadows. As if to prove that he can do introspective however, Polish Trouble gives way to Jumpers, perhaps the album’s most fragile moment. McPherson explains that the track takes its name from a suicide cult in Paul Auster’s In The Country Of Last Things. The novel describes the odyssey of Anna Blume, struggling to find her brother in a post-apocalyptic vision of New York. The burnt-out city is a hopeless place where commercial manufacture and human reproduction have ended. All that is left is a grim arena where matter - whether it be human waste or corpses - is collected by scavengers and transformed into useful merchandise. A post-apocalyptic thread runs throughout the album. The title of the album itself Going Salamander is a reference to a sequence in Alasdair Gray’s Lanark where people turn into lizards then explode, helping to provide power for a post-apocalyptic Glasgow.

Glasgow may be McPherson’s adopted home but it is worth noting that he is originally from South Uist, a Hebridean island that is low on population but high on peat. South Uist is a galaxy away from downtown Detroit which makes one of the album’s other stand out tracks, Get UR Fleece On, all the more interesting. With its acidic touches skulking under a harsh brutalist husk, this is a glorious attempt to link the outdoor clothing so fashionable in the Highlands with the siege mentality soundscapes created by Mike Banks’ Underground Resistance.

As if this wasn’t enough, there’s also some tidy bonus material available on the Highpoint Lowlife site. The highlight of the digital single available for free download is The Village Orchestra’s mix of Jumpers, a much more jolly affair with some trademark touches and complete with Girls Aloud samples.

Stuart Aitken

4/5

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TRACKLIST

Litterball
Me Speak
Polish Trouble
Jumpers
Get In And Don't Come Out
The Wrong Sun
I Gotcha
Get UR Fleece On
North Star
Boodle
Dwarf

IZU Discography

THE SURFER'S GUIDE TO IZU
Highpoint Lowlife

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