Scottish producer Johnny Lynch prepares the release of his eighth album as Pictish Trail, following four years on from his Scottish Album of the Year-winning Future Echoes. Probably his weirdest and most collaborative work yet, Thumb World was forged alongside visual artist Swatpaz, a process that had them both imagining that the music was taking place in a retro ‘80s arcade game world.
Limited Vinyl LP £24.99 FIRELP558X
Limited indies only deluxe Arcade Edition LP on Fire, housed in a spot gloss gatefold sleeve with sticker sheet.
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CD £12.06 FIRECD558
CD on Fire.
Vinyl LP £19.99 FIRELP558
Black vinyl LP on Fire, housed in a gatefold sleeve.
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Here's an album I've been looking forward to hearing. Hurrah! It's Pictish Trail's new one, 'Thumb World'. A ten-song succession of colourful, explosive mini-symphonies. Symphonies is the right word because of how meticulously constructed the songs are. There’s never a conventional set-up of instruments, never your average guitar, bass, drums yawnathon. The songs are always beautiful-wrought with a huge array of weird sounds like jazz breaks, pitch-corrected vocals, gloopy synths, nods to PC Music, and bit-crushed... stuff.
For such a dense and uncompromising album, it's never overwhelming. I think this is because at the heart of ‘Thumb World’ has a pop sensibility. There’s a similarity here to ELO, with both projects sharing a central auteur figure (Jeff Lynne and Johnny Lynch) and a real knack for memorable choruses and vocal lines.
I love the way that Pictish Trail can find a perfect midpoint between genres. ‘Slow Memories’ bridges the gap between electronica, IDM, and folk. ‘Heart Eyes’ is like Soft Cell being produced by Peaches. It's one of my favourites from this album, a towering achievement, sounding a bit like Dorian Electra, and Grimes, with its skeletal production, a huge distorted kick drum, and autotuned vocals.
We got a promo for ‘Thumb World’ months ago and I distinctly remember hearing the strains of ‘Fear Anchor’ filtering through my headphones while listening to Dan Carlin’s admittedly excellent ‘Supernova in the East’ podcast about the Asia-Pacific War of 1937-1945. Naturally I tore (removed) my headphones off and demanded (inquired) to know what that holy noise (song) was. Well, what a brilliant tune! There’s an ear-frying guitar melody that will stick in your craw for weeks. It’s got that slinky, sexy quality that the best BJM songs have, with a simple, powerful arrangement and buttery, chocolatey, murmured chorus. Yum yum. It’s a perfect, shining analogue for the whole album; a beautiful peach of an album that brims with truth and glory.
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- Thumb World by Pictish Trail
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