Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK

Various Artists - Votive Offerings

Think of music in Glasgow and it's maybe the lineage of The Pastels, Orange Juice, BMX Bandits, The Vaselines, through to Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian and onwards to Mogwai that springs to mind, but scratch the surface and there is the electronica of Free Love and Happy Meals. Underneath all of that is music from the darker edges: the uncompromising electronics of Apostille, the dark, dreamy pop-cinematics of Ela Orleans and digging further there's the English/Scottish projects The Psychogeographical Commission, the electro-pop performance duo Security, and its (much-missed) occult ritual offshoot Ov. Votive Offerings from At War With False Noise, a label (that I) once associated with noise, digs deeper still unearthing a clutch of bands operating within the darker realms associated with goth, post-punk and experimental industrial united by an attitude and aesthetic rather than constituting a scene as such. It's an intriguing release where established artists such as Vom and Hausfrau sit alongside some such as Charity Murder and Cursed Image who are making their debut recordings here.

Charity Murder is the solo project of Josh Longton, a member of Glasgow's goth and post-punk malcontents Kaspar Hauser and much more. That goth influence continues to seep into both of their tracks in different ways. Riddled with an icy portentousness, 'Passing' lurches from crisp drum beats and whispers into soaring, probing atmospheric guitars with ringing notes, assuming a presence like The Cure circa Faith and Pornography, its slow, cracked vocals lightened by wafts of ethereal female backing. 'Pressed, Witch, Bury', meanwhile, is awash with thunderous beats and discordant ringing guitar a la Killing Joke and a throbbing flanged bass sound. Insistent muddied vocals can't hide its fascination for eighties goth. Maybe my mind has been piqued by the recently published book 16 Years, Gigs in Scotland 1974-1990 but this really recalls the type of sounds that some of our older Scottish readers might remember from hearing at Glasgow's premier gothspot, Rooftops.

'Games For Remembering' is the first released music from Cursed Image, the new musical project of Darren McNeil who once worked under the moniker IO Pan, and it's something of a slow burner unfurling from worming synth into brittle guitar chime and passages of tumbling chords. Rising from a whisper to spoken tones intoning lyrics adapted from a tract written by the director, actress and poet Jane Arden. The structure echoes Coil's late-period moon musick but the instrumentation tends towards Current 93. Maybe that's not too surprising as Josh Longton (of Charity Murder) who features here on vocals is part of the Scottish iteration of the Rose McDowall group. "Death, fear, annihilation" he repeats in a text more concerned with deprogramming and control than anything from the dark arts. 'Games For Remembering' is ambitious and they nearly pull it off, especially with its undercurrent of electronics surfacing towards the end. It's a track that shares an affinity with another Glasgow connected group, The Psychogeographical Commission, which is further evidence enough of the undocumented occult strain that flows through this city.

Vom are mainstays of Glasgow's experimental scene and on 'D.M.T.' (not literally) Vom offer up a barrage of ritual rhythm and clatter, anchored around shuddering bass tones. Wailing chants and tribal beats ensure the whole thing evokes archaic rituals, 'Mirage', meanwhile, is rooted around flickering hi-hat rhythms and funky bass tones. Infused by a haunted air formed from a layering of cold synths, atmospheric guitars and vocals pushed way back, obscured and distant. Like a ritualised atmospheric take on funky alternatives like 400 Blows and early Clock DVA, with a cold blast of early Hula its clear that Vom are becoming more insular and hermetic, a far cry from previous releases such as Initiation which flowed with expansive guitar squall and noise.

It's left to Schalken, the solo project of Vom's Matt Cooper, on 'Ottonian Manuscript' to offer the most abstract sounds with a deep expansive slice of experimental guitar work worming its way into extended and distended dark ambience, with glimmers of light beckoning from its distorted rays of feedback echoing the atmospheric textures of Lull, Final and even some of Jim O'Rourke's darker moments.

Claudia Nova's Hausfrau seem to have been on something of a hiatus since the release of their Trivial Pursuits tape. Here, they return with two disparate tracks showcasing her sensuous vocal prowess over minimal synth atmospherics. A dirty synth buzz runs through 'Clean Hands' as Nova emotes in strong Siouxsie-esque tones over a crisp, minimalist click and incessant pulsing beat. Eastern synth stylings arise but it is her voice that provides the motion and emotion amidst the stark cold electronics. Hausfrau's other contribution, 'Endless Love', which closes the album wraps sensual tones around bleepy electronica, slow, ululating synths and a bed of subtle rhythms. Warm and seductive it fits like an (iron) glove making Hausfrau Glasgow's answer to Chris and Cosey.

Votive Offerings is something of a special release for the label returning its focus to local acts and it does it job in shining a light on groups that operate under the radar. Sure many if not all of the acts featured here are friends of the label but Votive Offerings compiled in the tradition of eighties industrial and post-punk compilations brings together disparate groups that share an aesthetic and in doing so they have documented the "dark emanations from subterranean Scotland". But lets hope that this is more than documentary evidence and becomes a statement of intent for the label as Votive Offerings unearths a number of groups with strong material that deserves further exposure. Be warned, you've already missed the special box edition, including frankincense sticks, candles, oils, a clay - a cassette featuring an extra 30 minutes of music - designed for listening to under ritual conditions. This vinyl edition of Votive Offerings is limited to 350 copies and is available from At War With False Noise and AWWFN bandcamp