Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells – Everything’s Getting Older

May 17, 2011 by  

Aidan Moffat had a tough time coming to terms with the break up of Arab Strap – the band that he and Malcolm Middleton worked on together for a decade before they announced its demise in 2006.

Five years on and Moffat hasn’t been laid dormant, but though he has a number of other projects to his name, he still sports the scars of a battle with his own head for all to see, and have culminated in a wry outlook on a world that still looks at him favourably, but often offers little in return. In 2008, using his full name of Aidan John Moffat, an album of prose and poetry was released and 3 years later these experiences and styles have influenced this latest offering.

Bill Wells completes this particular picture as a man with an accomplished career as self-taught instrumentalist with jazz leanings. Aside from them both being raised in the same Scottish town and also both prominent members of the Scottish musical scene, on the surface, this meeting of minds could be seen as strange.

It is however, both a charming and a jarring surprise to find that this collaboration strikes a chord very quickly and is as engaging as it is disarming from start to end.

Made up of prose and stories about life, it relies on an avant-garde style of murky jazz and strings to create each backdrop. Wells can take huge credit for these often shadowy, sometimes whimsically bleak settings, it’s almost as if you’re sitting next to Moffat has he reels off every thought that enters his mind. The atmosphere created here is staggering.

And of the words which make up the songs intentions, we find poetry so gritty it could only have been spoken by a Scot, let alone written by one. In terms of Moffat the man, his narrative still runs along well-worn rails, and there are a raft of sexual references and accounts of a drab and unpromising existence the likes of which are not uncommon from him. A good example of his general writing is ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’, a basic description of the process of conception leading onto a discussion on where life comes from, all told with a scientific quip and a devil-may-care attitude to those who ponder about it too much. It’s a cleverness and turn of phrase that many have attempted but not all have pulled off. Well’s music is a handsome accompaniment to Moffat’s poignant and bittersweet descriptions.

Maybe the idea was to paint a picture of hopelessness, but if so then nobody has succeeded. Yes, it’s not a joyous album, but it’s genuine, frank and though a little downtrodden it still manages to be sincere. From two men who still both hold up as figures of stature amongst the Scottish musical scene, this album may only have ever been seen as a rousing success. Luckily for them, that’s just what it is.

[rating:3.5]


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