READERS who have been following The National’s weekly music column may have noticed we’re using the term “math rock”.

Gig nights by Scottish promoters have helped to raise the profile of the small scene over the past couple of years.

Vasa bassist John Niblock’s own venture Taribo West is particularly responsible for giving various international unorthodox rock acts a platform in Scotland. However, it is his own band that are turning heads.

The new single Fat Ronaldo is an incredible signal of intent from the Glasgow instrumental quartet, and their most expansive piece of work yet. The powerful guitar lines and huge dynamic shifts mean that their influences – most notably Belfast rockers And So I Watch You From Afar – are easily identifiable, but Vasa are more bipolar in mood and direction.


VASA’S blistering track demonstrates the wide range of flavours in contemporary instrumental music. Take American experimentalists Caspian for example, whose latest single Darkfield is one of the most exciting progressive-minded pieces they’ve written.

The band have moved on from the emotive, tremolo-based style that first earned them the post-rock tag, and are evolving their sound into a brilliant mash of different textures and rhythms.

You can catch the band when they come to The Classic Grand, Glasgow, in November.


THOSE who have investigated the dense Scottish indie scene may well have come across Sparrow and The Workshop and Strike The Colours in their travels. Both bands have produced some rich, gorgeous records over the past decade.

It’s therefore not necessarily a surprise that the two acts’ lead songwriters, Jill O’Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, chose to unite for a new project last year.

Bdy Prts is about as distinct from both of those bands as you could get, however. Their latest track Cold Shoulder is a funky pop gem in spite of its prickly electronic backdrop.

The track’s inclusion is admittedly cheating slightly (it dropped on Soundcloud a month ago) but given the track has just sneaked onto BBC Introducing playlists, it feels appropriate.


SORREN MACLEAN has been making music and playing guitar showcases since he was a youngster. It’s therefore gratifying to see the Mull songwriter blossom into a true folk auteur on his new album Winter Stay Autumn.

Rows & Rows of Boxes, one of his signature tracks, has been given the full band treatment on the new record and the results are glorious. MacLean’s tender vocals work beautifully here alongside twinkly guitar and interweaving counter-melodies.

A point of reference here might be Roddy Woomble, whom MacLean has supported in the past. Like the Idlewild frontman, MacLean often conveys a profound sense of homeliness in his music through his lyrics and gentle strums. This track is another beautiful testament to the small island.


THOUGH they’re arguably the most successful progressive metal act from the UK at the moment, TesseracT have changed vocalists yet again for their upcoming album Polaris. The ever-evolving tech metal boffins have re-recruited Dan Tompkins for their latest enterprise, but the decision may have proved a good one.

Lead single Messenger sees Tompkins at his ultra-melodic and melodramatic best, and suggests Polaris will appeal to the more overt metal-heads in the band’s fanbase.

Glasgow-based fans can also look forward to forthcoming tour dates.