Curiously the story behind the Wrack Lines project is as interesting as the record itself, challenging a series of musicians to think about the environmental impact of their work, both touring and recording.
The EP forms part of a research project called Fields of Green: Addressing Climate Change through Music Festival Communities, which seeks to encourage audiences, organisers and musicians to plan environmentally sustainable behaviour around music festivals, in collaboration with researchers at the University of the West of Scotland, Edinburgh University, Lancaster University and the charity Creative Carbon Scotland.
Released on Olive Grove Records, Jo Mango ropes in an impressive array of Scottish musical talent, Admiral Fallow, RM Hubbert, Rachel Sermanni and The Pictish Trail for the project, but given its status as part academic project, part travelogue, part creative showcase; does Wrack Lines stand up to scrutiny on its own?
According to the accompanying press release the title “Wrack Lines” refers to the name given to the waving line of detritus that is left on the beach when the tide goes out; it is also an image of the creation of music (which itself is made from waves).
It’s an appropriate name for an EP that muses on the ephemeral, with Mango’s voice floating in and out, circling her duet partners like a dancer.
Obviously this works better on some tracks than others; ‘Loneliness and Rhythm’ with Louis Abbott from Admiral Fallow is a spacious musing on distance and alienation that benefits from the interweaving voices complementing one another, but the otherwise excellent ‘Believe Me I Know’ might work better as a Pictish Trail solo track with its rather more straightforward lyrics and electronic backbeat.
‘Sustain’ maintains RM Hubbert’s reputation as one of the most talented and tasteful musicians around, but it’s the final pair of tracks that offer the most effective display of Mango’s talents.
‘The Sky Exploded’ is a gentle ballad that manages to spin quiet pessimism into a call to arms, while ‘Bitter Fruit’ with Rachel Sermanni sees two songwriters at the top of their game trading lines and harmonising over a single gentle acoustic guitar.
Overall, Wrack Lines is a gentle reminder that doing the right thing need not always be preachy or painful.
Words: Max Sefton