'Strike A Match' from Strike A Match by Sacred Paws
Sacred Paws quite rightly won the Scottish Album Of The Year award for 2017’s astonishing Strike A Match but do you know I have been startled to see how few other ‘albums of the year’ lists I have seen it on. There is surely no good reason for this other than the curse of records released in the first halves of years always struggling to be remembered by a music ‘press’ with notoriously short term memories (memories that apparently can’t keep anything stored past this week’s PR penned ‘reviews’). I plead as guilty as the next person in this regard but my goodness Strike A Match remains firmly in my grab bag of records guaranteed to make me twist and shout, shimmy and shake. Inside of course. Always inside.
In many ways Strike A Match is the perfect album. Ten tracks, five-a-side. A shade over a half hour in total length. No band name or title on the sleeve, just some beautiful two-colour abstract geometric prints on reversed board. The prints are a bit like Matisse paper cuts in monochrome. Positive. Negative. Dancing. Just like the music.
It is impossible not to begin twitching with delight as soon as the needle hits this record. Immediately into a stride it never once loses, Strike A Match tosses its key ingredients of pin sharp guitar rivulets, hypnotic darting rhythms, sombre synths, ebullient horns and vocals that are cool yet warm, strong yet charming, disarming. Think Young Marble Giants playing the soundtrack to a Haitian vodou ceremony or ESG hosting a dance party in George Square. Perhaps.
The title track is simply sensational; three and a half minutes of barely but crucially just-so contained exuberance. Somehow it feel faster than it actually is, for its pace is such that it allows space for each of its elements to breathe deeply. It opens almost empty before building layers of rhythm and bursts of light. ’Strike A Match’ is a song where each element supports the thrust of the whole. Darkness, emptiness, connectedness, love, light, delight, hope, anticipation, redemption. All in a blink of an eye and a hip shimmy shake. The last minute in particular is just magical, leaping off into a collection of refrains played by guitars, drums, horns and handclaps; each performing their own syncopated little dances within their own private parties, at one with the whole yet almost simultaneously oblivious. Lift the needle and place it again. Press ‘repeat’. Leap in and lose yourself again and again and again and again.