Glasgow’s Muscles of Joy don’t have much of an internet presence just yet, but the few scraps of information floating around the web – local press cuttings, live reviews etc – generate a fairly good idea of what they’re about. Here’s what we do know: the seven-piece, all-girl collective (Leigh Ferguson, Esther Congreave, Jenny O’Boyle, Anne-Marie Copestake, Ariki Porteous, Katy Dove and Vikki Morton), some of whom moonlight as artists and film-makers, have been collaborating for a few years now, on projects musical or otherwise. They have recently supported underground icons Lydia Lunch and Calvin Johnson at Scottish gigs, by all accounts upstaging the revered headline acts. Their cheekily provocative name is actually (apparently) a reference to a study of laughter and facial expressions; and part of the strikingly original noise they make is created using instruments they have built themselves. Their self-titled debut album on the Watts of Goodwill label fuses traditional music styles like Gaelic psalm singing and folk with intense primitive rhythms and a post-punk playfulness that invites comparison with outsider-artists like Robert Wyatt and the Raincoats, and while the individual ingredients may be quite austere, the group manages to tease them into an ecstatic racket that occasionally evolves into something resembling pop. Opener “A Room Of Our Own”, for example, with its fuzzed-up bass, stabbing horns and percussive grunts, sounds like a marching band on speed, whilst the scratchy guitars, tribal drums and call-and-response vocal chants of “Coins Across His Hips” recall the Slits or Boredoms spin-off OOIOO. Equally impressive are the more restrained moments, especially the ten-minute “Water Break Its Neck”, which ripples and swells with what sounds like a hundred clicking fingers replicating the sound of the Welsh waterfall that gives the track its name. As previously mentioned, samples are hard to come by, but you can hear three songs from the album on the Muscles of Joy Myspace page.
Muscles of Joy is released October 17 on Watts of Goodwill