Stuart Braithwaite is one of those guys whose day must have way more than the usual 24 hours . Otherwise, it’s hard to explain how someone can be involved in so many releases and projects. In addition to his main band Mogwai, with whom he has not only released countless albums but lots of movie scores, he formed the ‘supergroup’ Minor Victories a few years ago. Rachel Goswell from Slowdive and Justin Lockey from Editors were also part of the band. After the release of a promising and critically acclaimed debut album in 2016, the band seemed to have disappeared though. They haven’t released anything since.
With his new band Silver Moth Braithwaite explores a similar musical territory. Once again he has brought a female vocalist on board, his wife Elisabeth Elektra. Five additional musicians, active in various bands like Abrasive Trees or Burning House, complete the band’s extensive lineup: Evi Vine (guitar and vocals), Steven Hill (bass), Matthew Roachford (guitar), Ash Babb (drums), and Ben Roberts (cello).
Productive jam sessions with total strangers
The album was recorded in March 2021 at the Black Bay Studios, which the album is named after. The studios are located on the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. The studio is nestled between huge hills right above the Atlantic Ocean, where the water is almost ink-black and dotted with imposing gray rocks. The recording process lasted for a total of four days. It took place in the midst of the pandemic – with people who had never met each other before.
The foundation of the album is based on improvised jam sessions, with fragments being pieced together to form a cohesive whole. Although the album consists of only six songs, they stretch over a runtime of nearly three-quarters of an hour. The penultimate song “Hello Doom” alone meanders atmospherically for over 15 minutes, incorporating elements of post-rock, noise, and even drone.
Deep black as the Atlantic Ocean
At no point during the album the sense of unfamiliarity among the musicians and the short recording period of only four days is audible to the listener. If I take a look at the emerging spring outside of my window, “Black Bay” doesn’t feel like the proper album for this kind of atmosphere though. The songs are rather meant for locking oneself inside your cozy, heated living room. It’s all about the music streaming from the turntable—nothing else. No appointments, just enjoying a drink. And maybe stroking the cats. As a listener you can feel how the secluded ambiance of the Atlantic Ocean has influenced the album’s sound.
What is particularly captivating in this blend of post-rock and dream pop is Elisabeth Elektra’s voice. In many moments, it reminds me of Beth Gibbons from Portishead or even a post-rock version of Daughter. Amidst the guitars, keyboards, and string instruments, the songs evoke an almost hypnotic effect that captivates the listener, much like the deep black waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Vinyl of the week on somewhat unimaginative clear vinyl
If I am being totally honest with you: at the moment there are dozens of vinyl records out there that are being released as a limited edition on clear vinyl, which is pretty unimaginative in my opinion. Sometimes it fits the album cover, but mostly the selection of clear vinyl seems a little uninspired. Long story short: the album by Silver Moth will only be available on transparent vinyl in your local record store.
The Bella Union label store offers an edition with a signed print, but the vinyl color is the same. The Dinked Edition on Black & White Swirl vinyl, which was limited to 500 copies in UK, is unfortunately already sold out.