Sophisticated Orcadian Stuff

Half Cousin hail from, of all places, Orkney and have been revered by, of all people, Elton John, who said this of them, "It's like the music from a Hammer Horror film and then mutates into this weird, soft electronic thing. It's really strange. They're from Orkney - something is clearly going on out there."

Yes there is. They have given us 'Iodine', the second album after their debut 'The Function Room', and it's an oddity and a gem you'd be dismayed to lose or not to hear. Focusing on Orkney characters, areas and landscapes, it's a paean to a place rarely mentioned in literature, the arts, music, or even atlases, and it's a true delight from start to finish.

With an eerie atmosphere created through the use of backward electronics, junk and heirloom percussion and a real knack for crafting a delicious, empowering and overwhelming mood of a song, Half Cousin are set to make it as cult heroes referred to by the crème de la crème of young sophistos and music know-alls for years to come, "...of course I've heard In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, but have you listened to this..."

'Charity' is Drake's 'At The Chime Of A City Clock' given the Tunng treatment, it's brilliant orally, it's magnificent in terms of acoustics and it's sumptuous in its melding of noise to create something so fresh yet so familiar. Then we have 'Abide' which steals lyrics from the hymn 'Abide With Me'; it's a glorious song, reminding one of Juana Molina's experimentations with ways of warping sound, bringing things together and pulling them apart.

You feel as if you're on a sonic trip round the villages and towns of this strange island, on a bike in the rain amid the vast countryside of browns and dark greens, but it's a sort of psychedelic trip. In your mind, halcyon colours blurring memories not yours, like celluloid film burning, you catch the last glimpses of the picture before it decays. 'Police Torch' is one example of this, like 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' with Scotch influence.

Then it's down to 'Home Help' which is one of the most beautiful instrumental pieces I've heard in a long while, and 'Rat Pack Dad' which you're left guessing at, what's the story? The disjointed music not offering many clues, the obscure and tantalising lyrics hinting but not helping, you relish the mystery...

Half Cousin are back on the scene; with 'Iodine' they're launching into a new phase of existence and they're bringing a little unknown territory that's very close to home to your doorstep. Pick up this sample of a time and place just north of here, it works a bit like a Joyce novel, it puts you there, doesn't tell you how you got there, doesn't tell you why you're there, but gives you a map and a pair of eyes and let's you get on with it.