LOCKDOWN Twitter was an odd place. Railing against Covid isolation, users ranted, accused, confessed, and worse. Others made promises, broached ideas, and instigated new alliances – Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite included.

In early 2021, he struck up a Twitter chat with his wife, Glasgow’s electronic Goth-pop queen Elisabeth Elektra, and Devon-based alt-rock guitarist and songwriter Matthew Rochford about isolation and the wonders of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Rather than grumbling about the isolation imposed by the pandemic, why shouldn’t they embrace it, perhaps as an opportunity rather than an imposition? What about making an album there?

The idea grew wings.

Others were invited to contribute: ethereal singer Evi Vine; Prosthetic Head (aka post-rock cellist Ben Roberts), and members of Southampton’s Burning House and Matthew Rochford’s day-job band Abrasive Trees signalled interest.

Zoom calls followed and in early 2021, seven musicians (the majority of whom had never met in real life), caught the Ullapool ferry to Stornoway, and travelled the last few miles to Black Bay Studio, a former crab processing factory on Lewis’s western edge that celebrates its position as the UK’s most-remote recording facility.

Maximum isolation achieved, for the next four days the assembled team improvised, exclaimed, and exchanged. The outcome is the Silver Moth band and their Black Bay album, a glimmering testament to the strength of collaboration, and proof that difficult times can inspire powerful responses.

Braithwaite has form when it comes to putting together supergroups.

In 2015 he assembled Minor Victories, an enterprise that included Slowdive singer Rachel Goswell and Editors guitarist Justin Lockey.

Minor Victories sounded very much as you would expect from a collective made up of contributors with their own, distinct styles. So, while both projects are imbued with Mogwai’s loud-quiet-then-louder-again tropes, Silver Moth’s Black Bay is gentler and less bombastic than Minor Victories’ output.

Where Minor Victories maximalises, Silver Moth strips back, building tracks organically around a kernel of drums, keyboards and guitar.

Thus Black Bay is an elemental album – a reflection of the island surroundings that spawned it. As Rochford notes in a journal he kept during the recording process: “Lewis is such a special place to have done this. A landscape that shapeshifts with the ever-changing light, the weather pouring in from the Atlantic, stories of Kelpies, soaring sea eagles, whalebone arches, Luskentyre, the sweetness of peat smoke, the poems from my father, the lochs that move from black to gold to pink as the sun moves across these expansive skies."

Black Bay opens with the fireworks and wonderment of Henry, sketching out what Bjork’s organic Biophilia album might have sounded like had she rocked out. Roberts’s cello imitates whale song as plangent guitars and piano keys swoop and rise around Vine’s fragile, whispering vocals.

The National: Sea stacks on Garry Beach, Tolsta, Isle of Lewis, Outer HebridesSea stacks on Garry Beach, Tolsta, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides (Image: Getty Images)

A tribute from Elisabeth Elektra to her late friend Alanna, The Eternal is a fitting paeon to old and new companionships. Replete with splashy cymbals and celestial harmonies, the track opens its arms wide to embrace Elektra’s mourning.

It’s worth wondering if Braithwaite had Paul Giovanni and the band Magnet in mind when the idea of a Silver Moth album was conceived.

"Both resultant scores resonate with a kind of Celtic paganism"

There are certainly clear parallels between Giovanni’s soundtrack to the 1973 folk horror classic The Wicker Man and Braithwaite’s Black Bay initiative. Both illuminate stories of a pilgrimage to the Scottish wilds (Edward Woodward’s character travels from London to the fictional Hebridean island of Summerisle in the film) and both resultant scores resonate with a kind of Celtic paganism.

Plus, like Braithwaite, Giovanni assembled a group of musicians (naming them Magnet) specifically for The Wicker Man project. Silver Moth’s Mother Tongue track bears a passing resemblance to Giovanni’s Willow’s Song, with Elektra and Vine swapping the film song’s seductive themes for a celebration of the fight for women’s rights.

The Celtic thread continues on Gaelic Psalms, Rochford’s reading of a poem from his late father, the Aberdeen-based poet Gerard Rochford. Gaelic Psalm first appeared in Gerard Rochford’s 2017 anthology Cairn: Poems For The Isle Of Lewis and speaks of the place’s gifts of rugged landscape and a never-ending sky.

If four days don’t sound anywhere near long enough to make a satisfyingly rounded album, credit must go to Black Bay studio owner and producer Pete Fletcher for weaving the Braithwaite and company’s recording sessions together.

Fletcher augments the set with a depth that goes beyond the septet’s freeform ideas, adding lustrous, textural washes and found sounds (lapping water, static crackles) that imbue a feeling of being both far away and very close.

It’s his touch that brings Gaelic Psalm to life.

Clocking in at just over 15 minutes in length, Hello Doom is either a description of what it feels like to drown or an opiate. Or both. Either way, delicate trails of feedback and insistent drones shimmer over a simple guitar figure as Elektra sings of how the “waves pull me in”.

Like Millais’s painting of Ophelia, it’s very beautiful in a kind of melodramatic, wistful way. Taking its name from the Inuit goddess of marine life, Sedna – the album’s closer – is all glacial synths and layered, shuddering guitar shapes underpinning Elektra’s siren song to the ocean depths.

At a time when discussions about the toxicity of social media platforms grow louder, it’s reassuring to know people can still gather online and use the benefits of virtual friendships to break new grounds of creativity.

As with James Graham and Aidan Moffat’s Gentle Sinners venture that was conjured up during Covid and resulted in last year’s These Actions Cannot Be Undone set, Braithwaite et al find light in the darkness to create an album of mature, keening hope for the night’s black waters and the day’s new dawns.

Black Bay is released on CD and double vinyl LP on Friday via the Bella Union label.