The new release from Pictish Trail, the Dream Wall EP, is a 5-track amuse-bouche of splendid remixes. There is one new track, ‘Dream Wall’, recorded during the session that made up the Thumb World album and, as well as the original version, it is also remixed alongside versions of ‘Slow Memories’ and ‘Pig Nice’ that were on Thumb World.
‘Dream Wall’ opens the EP with a warm pulsing fuzz that yawns the song into life and evokes the late nights Lynch sings about “I think maybe I write songs way too late at night, I stay awake for as long as possible, waiting for an idea to stir inside, instead I just become incredibly tired”. At the points feel your lids starting to droop there are guitar trills and firefly loops to keep you from a happy snooze. The first remix of ‘Slow Memories’ is by Callum Easter and it starts like the early days of trip-hop where stark drum loops are pitted against echoed vocals. But the mid-section brings in the warble of Farfisa Organ and builds to a hypnotic kaleidoscope that pulls in added voices that feel like the slow memories themselves vying for attention in the background.
‘Pig Nice’ is remixed by Kinbote (Matt Gibb) who brings his musical ticks and glitches to bear on a swirling mix of light and dark. The light is an uneven bubble of rising and falling layered sound that washes around a synth motif, and the dark is a subterranean pounding thrum that surges in and out. Bamboo (Nick Carlisle and Rachel Horwood) also remix ‘Slow Memories’ but their version is full of elongated keyboard washes, electronic vibrations and harmony vocals that evoke a galactic séance; the kind of music you would hear sitting in the middle of some standing stones as the sun rose. ‘Dream Wall’ is the final remix on the EP and Good Dog (Suse Bear) warps time to dress up Lynch’s late-night lullaby in leg-warmers and treat us to warm 80s Moroder-like synth swells and electronic snare cracks. This version is could easily have played in the background of a Miami Vice nightclub scene.
This is music forged in the happy, askew universe of the fabulous Lost Map label which Johnny Lynch runs (although he releases his own material through Fire Records to ensure poacher doesn’t become gamekeeper). Lost Map is a label worth investigating if you aren’t aware of them. They are home to a treasure trove of unique and exciting artists including Rozi Plain, Alexia Avina, Martha Ffion and Ed Dowie (who has just released his new album The Obvious I.
Dream Wall is like the feeling of sand between your toes on a sunny beach. The tracks are squishy and comforting and you feel like organic matter is growing symbiotically alongside the electronica. That symbiosis is indicative of the family-vibe of Lost Map where the city meets the inner Hebrides and where everyone is welcome around their digital campfire.
Review by Paul F Cook