Heralded by Firecracker Recordings boss Lindsay Todd as “the next wave,” Fergus Clark, Al White, Ruaidhri McGhee and Stewart Brown of 12th Isle are flying the flag for Glasgow. A self-described “label, nightlife institution, and DJ team,” it isn’t just Todd who holds the collective in such high esteem – bold directions taken sonically have resonated with journalists, peers and average listeners alike, paving the way for them to thrive in 2017.
It’s a multi-faceted project and aesthetic is significant, as demonstrated by a silkscreened debut release, courtesy of St. Petersburg’s Dices + AEM. The sleeve art is just as much a visual aid for the sweeping, kosmische-inspired electronics as it is vessel for the wax itself, and goes hand-in-hand with the off-kilter illustrations that adorn their event flyers. In fact, everything 12th Isle do is so far left of centre, the centre is virtually a dot. A carefully-curated mix series meanders between the oddball and avant-garde, while Clark recently collaborated with JD Twitch to compile Miracle Steps (Music From The Fourth World 1983 – 2017), a double-LP of “Fourth World music” that dropped on Twitch’s Optimo Music imprint earlier this Spring. Before the first of two London appearances in the space of a fortnight, the Glaswegian outfit have picked out a few of their current favourites for your listening pleasure.
1. Ditto – Basso Continuo
A lovely track off a pretty solid LP by Texan, Charles Ditto. Stripped back atmospheres with the ever-ubiquitous saxophone sitting perfectly on top of it all, the track takes some pretty understated turns and changes subtly, but with enough effect to keep you lazily taking it all in. Pairs well with gin you didn’t pay for and food you didn’t make. Shout out to King Heroin’s mother.
2. Clarence Peters – Born and Shake
A private press record out of somewhere in France (presumably Paris) and from the only recording that the Clarence Peter Quartet seem to have released. This track especially manages that wonderful thing of allowing each of the ensemble to have their moment without it ever getting indulgent and in a way seamlessly moves with the track as a whole piece, preventing it from ever feeling ‘sectional’ or whatever the appropriate musical lingo would be. A spiritual essential this.
3. Nurse With Wound – Yagga Blues
Slow dancefloor tension from the mighty Nurse With Wound. Played at the right moment that out-of-nowhere vocal can brings a room into the fold.
4. Vogel – Bananas Gas
The record shop Fergus works at recently picked up a sizable collection from a member of an old local band. The guy had travelled around quite a bit and bought records along the way, and in the collection there were quite a few obscure titles he didn’t recognise. One of Fergus’s personal picks of the bunch was this weirdo stoner rock 7” from Robert Vogel, who played in the group Taxi. This b-side track has insane production and sounds very unique, yet certainly of its time.
5. Denaji – Wuhti (DJ Sotofett’s Bhakti Crew Mix Feat. Paleo Logos)
Big Firecracker anthem , and sing-a-long 12th Isle favourite. Shout out to our good pal Lindsay Todd for making the necessary connections.
6. İstanbul Kızları – Bu Ayrılık Neden Oldu
Scarce disco pop from Turkey here, appearing on İstanbul Kızları’s only LP. It’s got all the elements that make Selda Bagcan and Derdiyoklar Ikilisi etc so great, with strong vocals and a nice psychy touch that encourage repeated plays. Also comes in a really cool cover featuring the girls holding their wine glasses and smiling about the plate of grapes in front of them.
7. Dazion – Be A Man
This is a really cool tracky house tune with vocals from Ebou Gaye Mada, and it goes down nicely in the club when played late into the night. Released earlier this year on Second Circle, which Tako and co from Music From Memory also operate.
8. 2 Kilos – Mohameds Mind
Breakbeat acid honker on the derranged Radioactive Lamb label. Before hardcore got pitched up to heck, this one gubbs its trip halfway and derails into the swamp. Sounds like complete shite on a big system. It’s class.
9. Ultraworld – Northern Piano (Ambient Mix)
An end of the night DJ Crud special. On one occasion he actually had to frisbee another poor DJs lacklustre disc into the crowd in order to play this as the lights came up and the gurns shimmered beautifully.
10. Bill Loko – Nen Lambo
The monthly Loosen Up parties in Glasgow function as a fun time drunken social club for many of us music fans in the city. Fergus DJ’s at it with David Barbarossa and Charlie McCann, and this classic French release 12” from Bill Loko has closed off the night many many times now. Bound to make even the most sour-faced of punters break out into a smile and bust a move – especially after copious pints of lager.
12th Isle play London venues Rye Wax (May 27th) and The Yard (June 3rd) with Tasty Treats and Ally Tropical respectively, with the label’s sophomore release, courtesy of Glasgow duo Cru Servers, out in July.