Album Review: Dam Mantle – Brothers Fowl




From slate-colored skies and landscapes draped with castles, much of the mystique of Scotland lies in its particular wayward enchantment. As with the temperaments, the majesty of the music exported from Scotland, from the likes of Belle & Sebastian to The Jesus and Mary Chain, is stitched together with the dual yarns of whimsy and wonder.

Glasgow’s Tom Marshallsay — known more formally by his Dam Mantle moniker — grasps the tradition of Scotland and unravels the notion entirely all the same with playful and contemplative tunes. In the ever-expanding realm of DIY electronic music, it’s difficult stand out amid the sea of synthesizers. Dam Mantle, along with his collaborator Gonjasufi, varies from his contemporaries in his debut Brothers Fowl with a penchant for chamber orchestral musings backed by methodical electronic beats, gradually swelling as the tracks progress.

Bursting into a bubble of synthesizers and flutes, opener “Canterbury Pt 1” arrests locks into ambient trance before gliding into gongs and crackles with “Canterbury Pt 2”. Simplicity and ghostly echoes reign with “RGB”, backed by violins, while title track “Brothers Fowl” drips with subdued drum lines before accelerating into a hypnotic homage to house.

The album’s fleeting jazzy undertones are what makes it particularly sore. The sultry “Lifting”, drawn by a sumptuous saxophone loop and oscillating female vocals, and the spookiness of closer “Spirit” transcends the album into a realm that’s entirely celestial. A measure for intended dramatic effect? Maybe. But the end result of Brothers Fowl — a pensive, striking debut — draws you in whole, pronouncing you “floored” when it’s all over.

Essential Tracks: “Lifting”, “Ish”, and “Spirit”