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Aidan Moffat

+ {Bay} + {Lucky Pierre} + {Ben Tramer} + {The Sick Anchors} + {Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert}

To some a pseudo-lecherous miserabilist, unhappy with his “former” environs and the numerous waifs that frequented its many and clubs, to others a post-Trainspotting poet/lyricist with a penchant for the proletariat, mumbling vocalist/multi-instrumentalist AIDAN MOFFAT has been the worthy gripe for the gloom generation. Born 10th April 1973 in Falkirk, Scotland, the bearded one has steadily grown in cult-celeb appeal throughout his 20-plus years as a sadcore-cum-electro interpreter, although most indie fans will know him as kingpin of ARAB STRAP.
From the Angry Buddhists, to mid-90s pre-‘Strap act, BAY, the former Falkirk High School pupil wanted more from his alcohol-soaked and druggy lifestyle than just nights out in the town. With BAY (Aidan on drums!), he saw a glimmer of hope and a foot in the door, although this was primarily singer-songwriter Jason “JT” Taylor’s combo; they were augmented on their second release (ALISON RAE (1995) {*5}) by Ronnie Young, ex-COCTEAU TWINS/LOWLIFE bassist Will Heggie and Ross Ballany; incidentally, the RED HOUSE PAINTERS-esque record included a lo-fi cover of ROXY MUSIC’s `In Every Dream Home A Heartache’, while the free live acoustic CD featured a version of NICK DRAKE’s `Which Will’.
With ideas a-plenty, MOFFAT left his steady job at Sleeves in Falkirk to form the aforementioned ARAB STRAP and, with stalwart mucker and guitarist genius MALCOLM MIDDLETON, the sombre and sardonic enterprise released several albums between 1996 and 2005, from the underrated “The Week Never Starts Round Here” to curtain call, “The Last Romance”.
Having set up his noodling side-project pseudonym, LUCKY PIERRE, in 1999, and orchestrated Scotland’s indie super-ensemble, The REINDEER SECTION (alongside members of MOGWAI, SNOW PATROL, BELLE AND SEBASTIAN, et al) for two sets, “Y’all Get Scared Now, Ya Hear!” (2001) and “Son Of Evil Reindeer” (2002), Aidan also took time out to emerge in other enterprises. While BEN TRAMER – a one-off duo that garnered Jason Famous (of Johnny 7) into the fold – released only a “Halloween” EP in 2001, the proposition of his unification with MOGWAI’s Stuart Braithwaite by way of The SICK ANCHORS, was more mouth-watering. Sadly, the latter trio (with Colin McPherson) was again all-too-brief; their eponymous EP in 2002 covering OMD’s `Whole Again’, The Mills Brothers’ `You Always Hurt The One You Love’ and The FALL’s `Bill Is Dead’.
Rekindling LUCKY PIERRE – named so after a Gallic sexploitation flick from the early 60s or the middle one in a menage a trois – the solo Aidan was clearly in electro/KID LOCO-meets-VANGELIS/neo-classical territory on debut set, HYPNOGOGIA (2002) {*8}. Set against an exotica-fuelled backdrop and lush echoes of cinematic-like beats, Aidan’s voice takes a backseat, as a range of dramatic cellos, brass and the kitchen sink take over. Okay, the record’s a million miles away from the Falkirk man’s drunken debauchery dirges of the ‘Strap, but Aidan had found his inner beauty in tracks such as `Angels On Your Body’, `Nurse Flamingo’, `Ghost One’, `Ghost Two’ and the MILES DAVIS-like `Bedwomb’.
Shortening his nom de plume to L. PIERRE, TOUCHPOOL (2005) {*7} was the Lucky one’s second attempt to break free from the shackles of the 30-something indie cult-dom. Dramatic as his previous attempt, the lengthiest titles on board were indeed his most significant; `Jim Dodge Dines At The Penguin Café’ paying homage to Simon Jeffes, `Baby Breeze’ and the subdued `Total Horizontal’ (clocking in at nearly 10 minutes!), coming off best. With ARAB STRAP no longer shafting his creativity – so to speak – the adventures of L. PIERRE continued with a third set, DIP (2007) {*7}, a record looking for a film to complement.
If one had missed the sordid and squalid narratives of one AIDAN JOHN MOFFAT, the part-prose/part-protagonist postures of the man came to light on his solo debut, I CAN HEAR YOUR HEART (2008) {*6}. Probably not one to sit down with the family (just yer pals after the pub), the hedonistic lifestyle of the self-loathing guy comes in a couple of dozen vignettes, including a lazy version of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s `Hungry Heart’. Aidan was no IVOR CUTLER.
Together with an array of musicians spearheaded by himself, Stevie Jones and Alun Woodward (plus Stuart Brathwaite, whom he’d performed with on an Aloha Hawaii-billed collaboration 45), AIDAN MOFFAT & THE BEST-OFS delivered the almost folk-driven, HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN FROM SCOTLAND (2009) {*6}. How to get to haven-ly roots from his flat in Hyndland, Glasgow, just might’ve been a question doubting fans asked, but with his collaboration alongside fellow Falkirk “Bairn” and indie jazzman, BILL WELLS (on the Scottish Album of the Year 2011: “Everything’s Getting Older”), it all came good judging by other end of year poll awards.
Six years plugging away at recreating his bawdy tales of woe, the not-so-mystical L. PIERRE sound-tracked some more classical ditties by way of THE ISLAND COME TRUE (2013) {*7}. Sampling a cacophony of classical pieces, field recordings, etc. (`Harmonic Avenger’ was annoying close to fragmenting a couple of well-known tunes), while the near-40-something Aidan excels in his momentous rise from raconteur rocker to renaissance retro-vert; check out also, bookend tracks, `Kab 1340’ and `The Kingdom’. While fans eagerly await MOFFAT’s next solo venture, there was the release of a second joint effort with BILL WELLS on `The Most Important Place In The World’ (2015).
Planning his comeback strategy since the premier in 2014 of the Paul Fegan documentary-cum-soundtrack WHERE YOU’RE MEANT TO BE {*7} was released, first as an EP, then a belated album, in March 2016, the MOFFAT man stretched his horizons somewhat. Journeying around Scotland and picking up a few guests along the way (one of them, a swansong for Dundonian OAP chanter, STEILA STEWART, before she passed away), the bawdy barroom bard was at home in Glasgow with banter and bothy song about the seedier side of human nature. Now a true traditional folklorist, here, he updated the tongue-in-cheek-y `I’m A Rover’, `Jock McGraw’, `The Ball Of Kirriemuir’, `Ode To O’Brien Et Al’ et al, live-in-concert from Drumnadrochit Village Hall, near Loch Ness, that coincided with the making of the film.
It was only a matter of time before MOGWAI’s Rock Action imprint would tender a bid to prise the MOFFAT maverick into their lair. Alongside former EL HOMBRE TRAJEADO singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist RM HUBBERT, the collaborative and intoxicating HERE LIES THE BODY (2018) {*8}, deserved a wider audience; but that was the nature of today’s Spotify-subscription music-mart that kills the will of the miserabilist indie star. Anyway, songs to bleat about were The DELGADOS/PASTELS-like `Cockcrow’ (highlighting singer Siobhan Wilson), the bawdy folk cut `Mz. Locum’, the self-explanatory `Quantum Theory Love Song’ (featuring Rachel Grimes and saxophonist John Burgess), and the retro-reflective `Zoltar Speaks’.
The MOFFAT and HUBBERT enterprise thereupon knew no bounds when the creepy and cynical concept of GHOST STORIES FOR CHRISTMAS {*7} unfolded that December. The wry Aidan harked the (Falkirk) Herald angels sing, so to speak, as the former “bairn” unwrapped his storytelling prowess en masse a la title track, `A Ghost Story For Christmas’; and a few profound poems besides (e.g. `The Fir Tree’ from the pen of Hans Christian Anderson, `Such Shall You See’ and `The Recurrence Of Dickens’). Turning his time-warped karaoke machine to croon-control, the bearded one almost shed a crocodile tear for renditions of MUD’s `Lonely This Christmas’ and YAZOO’s `Only You’. Was head of the household Aidan warming his slippers by the `Fireside’ (the title of the opening salvo); accompanied by RM’s finger-picking Flamenco everywhere from `Desire Path’ to `Weihnachtsstimmung’? – probably not.
MOFFAT more or less wrapped up his dalliance alongside RM HUBBERT with the `Cut To Black’ download, having recently dropped their swansong vinyl-only live set, WHAT THE NIGHT BESTOWS US (2019) {*6}; spawned from a live gig in Oxford the previous November.
© MC Strong/MCS Apr2013-Jul2019

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