Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Album Review: RM Hubbert – First & Last


RM Hubbert is a Scottish guitarist who supported Mogwai on their recent tour. Last year’s First & Last, his first solo album (he had been a member of various bands) consists of Hubbert playing an almost flamenco-style guitar and accompanying himself on self-created percussion. What that basically means is his fingers rapping against the body of the guitar to provide propulsion.

It’s a soothing, atmospheric piece of work. It’s difficult to isolate individual tracks, though For Maria appears to have at least 3 individual melodic passages. His guitar playing is slightly reminiscent of Mark Kozelek, or at times even the likes of Ry Cooder (By Reference evokes Cooder’s Paris, Texas soundtrack) or John Martyn, though the overall spirit is more downbeat, akin to Arab Strap, with touches of early Elliott Smith here and there.

Reference overload? It’s better than I make it sound. Tipsy/Tapsy almost expires before it concludes, while later Skyreburn has a gorgeous, nostalgic gentle groove. The intricate guitar lines are really marvellous, while none of the nine tracks outstay their welcome. Indeed the whole album clocks in at just under half an hour.

RM Hubbert doesn’t so much innovate as put a fresh twist on instrumental post-rock acoustic guitar playing.