Songs of Glasgow: Stephen Pastel & Gavin Thomson release new track “The Most Beautiful House in Airdrie”

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Stephen Pastel and Gavin Thomson have released, “The Most Beautiful House in Airdrie”, the third taster to be released from This Is Memorial Device: Music from the Stage Play – due out June 28 via Geographic Music

Featuring Pastels’ members Tom Crossley on flute and Katrina Mitchell on ethereal, wordless vocal, “The Most Beautiful House in Airdrie” imagines this odd, modernist house and also the ghosts of its occupants, echoing down through time.

Speaking about the new track, Stephen Pastel said:  “We wanted to convey the idea of something being out of place, out of time - that town landscapes are rarely one dimensional.

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“The most beautiful house is sat right next to an estate of squat brutalist council flats, a mid-century anomaly, romantic and hopeful - almost like a dream. David Keenan has said that in all his time living in Airdrie he never saw anyone come in or out or even appear at the window.”

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This is Memorial Device is the expanded soundtrack to Graham Eatough’s Fringe First award-winning stage adaptation of David Keenan’s 2017 cult novel of the same name. Coming across as a third iteration of the book, it establishes a whole new angle on the myth of Memorial Device through reworked home recordings from the era and expanded versions of music originally scored for the theatre production.

Following recent performances in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, the award-winning production, starring Paul Higgins (The Thick of It, Slow Horses), also had a successful run of shows at London’s Riverside Studios last month.

  Subtitled “an hallucinated oral history of the post-punk scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and environs 1978-1986”, This Is Memorial Device tracked the joys and sorrows, triumphs and defeats, of a clutch of musicians and hangers-on centred around the band Memorial Device, as the small town of Airdrie, Scotland, is transformed into a place of endless opportunity and impossible magic by their collective belief in the power of art.

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  “If you grew up in Glasgow you would probably be surprised to learn that such a vivid, adjacent world existed there, but it did,” Stephen Pastel reflects. “There’s a love in the book, an unreasonableness, and at its epicentre a brilliant original group called Memorial Device.”

  Filled with teenage jams (Stephen) had made all those years ago” And new sounds that were helped shaped by Katrina Mitchell, John Hogarty and Tom Crossleyof The Pastels and set alongside contemporary recordings that are thick with small town romance and melancholy, This Is Memorial Device: Music from the Stage Play is a wonderful and fruitful collaborative work of art but crucially, also a standalone listen. It tells the story of the group in episodic flashbacks that run from single-note Industrial scale drone works through caveman punk, lush, cinematic instrumentals, bare spoken word, and a triumphant end piece which imagines the last music which Memorial Device vocalist, Lucas Black, left behind.

  “In places it is close to The Pastels, but in places not at all,” says Stephen. “It goes somewhere else - it’s like the train ride to Airdrie - somewhere along the way an invisible line is drawn, you know you’re not in Glasgow.”

  This is the lost sound of Airdrie, which is the lost sound of small working class towns and villages all across the UK – and the world – at the moment when post-punk turned the streets into avant garde performance spaces. It captures the bold spirit of tribal musical communities in these small towns, and the daring it took to believe. Because after all, as the book says, “it’s not easy being Iggy Pop in Airdrie.”

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