Something of a sonic hermit, Pictish Trail has spent large parts of the past few years tucked away in his caravan on the Hebridean isle of Eigg, feverishly working on the follow up to Secret Soundz Vol. 1&2, his critically- acclaimed double album of DIY electronic folk-tinged croft pop, released in 2014. Future Echoes is the mesmerising result. Written in remote seclusion but recorded in the bustling heart of London, it reunites Pictish Trail with Adem Ilhan, who produces the majority of the record. Johnny and Adem previously wrote music together in 2010 under the name Silver Columns, releasing the hugely well received album Yes And Dance via London taste-makers Moshi Moshi. Future Echoes features additional production and mixing from Rob Jones (Sweet Baboo, Slow Club) and drumming from Alex Thomas (Fridge, Squarepusher, Air, Bat For Lashes) and was mastered by Guy Davie at Electric Mastering.
Throughout his career Pictish Trail has resolutely furrowed his own path, steadily creating a unique catalogue of recordings and performances through his own labels (Lost Map / Fence Records) while eschewing the blueprint of the predictable singer-songwriter in favour of something untidily intriguing. Born out of a compulsion to make infectious, melody driven music from a treasure trove of secret sounds, Pictish Trail’s spectral songs are filtered through a sun-warped pop lens, where heart-pumping guitar shriek-outs collide with sampled gurgles and fractured lyrics figure-skate over sine-waves of glacial synth.
A very personal musing on mortality, the death of friendships and the finality of things, Future Echoes represents the most confident, cohesive and pop-savvy collection of music Pictish Trail has written to date. The album’s opener and first single ‘Far Gone (Don’t Leave)’ takes its cues both musically and thematically from the Coen brothers’ Fargo, adding a tongue-in-cheek hip-hop beat, raspy Casio keyboard bassline and echo-slathered vocal over the top of a queasy sample based on that film’s theme tune. ‘Dead Connection’ is a dizzying and very danceable dispatch of ghostly electro all about attempted discourse with the dead and accepting that what is gone is gone. ‘Half-Life’ slows things down at the album’s half way stage for a by-turns shuddering and twinkling take on decaying and yet somehow still interminable relationships, while closer ‘After- Life’ is a twisted polyrhythmic psychedelic disco opus, with a chorus sung in a Jimmy Somerville- worthy falsetto, reflecting on reincarnation and life lived on repeat. Which is exactly what you’ll be putting Future Echoes on by the time you get that far.