Having honed his skills playing fiddle for The Dirty Beggars, Man of the Minch sees Pedro Cameron drawing on traditional Scottish music and merging it with electronic, urban sounds to create something with one foot on the pavement of a modern city and the other in the rolling hills of a Celtic folk tale.
Helping Handskicks off with the rousing ode to mediocrity ‘Ordinary’, a stomping track powered an acoustic guitar being given the kind of high-tempo beating it will only ever take from someone with bluegrass roots.
The sound becomes gentler and more vulnerable through ‘Wonder Why’ and ‘As The Haar Turns To Dew’.
The soft hand-claps and yearning, lost sound of the former is kept from wilting altogether by both Cameron’s yelping vocals and gravelly Glaswegian “know what I mean?” refrain from spoken-word poet Sam Small.
While the haar is evoked using the most traditional instrument-heavy sound of any of the tracks, the industrial growl of the electric guitar that punctures it begins the drive towards the more modern sound of the closing two.
‘Borderland‘and ‘WastingTime’complete the evolution with the introduction of pulsating drums and hazy synths, Cameron taking on a terser tone for the latter’s almost dancefloor-ready sound.
The olden, folkish sound of the strings is still present but mostly submerged, bursting through in key moments before sinking down again.
Through its five tracks, Helping Hands tracks a journey from the traditional Scottish landscape of strings, rolling fog and Minch Men, on to the modern city’s darkness, drums and distortions.
It’s a record which lives in the inbetween, in the interplay between past and present, and the quest to find an identity somewhere between the two.
As the contradictions roll together, the overlap creates something strange and enticing.
Words: Ross McIndoe