My my, this has been a long time coming, this particular review.  I put a song from this album on a podcast months ago, and have somehow never quite managed to write a review so umm… apologies for keeping you all waiting.

Whilst this is was presented to me as an album, I get a slightly different impression (which may be entirely wrong).  Derek from Evil Hand, who I first wrote about when I reviewed his Bottle of Evil collaboration last year, has recently moved to Ireland and this feels as much like a clearing of the decks as it does an album in its own right, per se.

He even went as far as to preempt my predictable ‘too long’ criticism, which I seem to level at every single record ever recorded, by pointing out that since it was free (download here) he figured why not throw a few slow-burners in there.  Again, that impression of being a ‘here is what I have’ compilation rather than what we normally think of as an album.  This could, of course, be completely wrong, but there you go, I’ve said it now.

In musical terms Huldra drifts from acoustic to shoegazey pop tunes, from long and unyielding buildups to songs which almost qualify as ditties.  Almost. Some of the guitar textures remind me of Debutant (who also has an album for free download) whereas at other times there’s a bit more, ummm… how to phrase this… jauntiness about proceedings.

This is an album I am reviewing not because I think it is sheer unadulterated brilliance from beginning to end. On the contrary, I would say it is indeed a little long, a little inconsistent and perhaps lacks a little for cohesion at times.

When it is good, however, it is really very good indeed.  Songs like Returned in Time have barely been bettered in Scotland this year, and it is not alone.  The Kelpie sounds for all the world like a Scottish Kurt Vile, and it follows into the excellent, rhythmic, escalating Timeline.

All in all Huldra is a fine canter through the world of indie guitar music, and even its inconsistency seems to be the result of a lightness of touch which eschews dwelling too long on any one thing, and simply finishes off an idea and bounces on to the next one. If I was thinking of this as a formal release I might be tempted to set about it with pruning shears, but as it is it works really well as a taster of what Derek is capable.  Which on this evidence is quite a bit.

Visit Song, by Toad for more from Matthew.

<a href=”” _mce_href=””>Huldra by Evil Hand</a>