Sunday is traditionally the day of rest. In the past a time of worship, contemplation and communion it’s now more frequently a day where we recover from the, ahem, exertions of a Saturday night by going out for a nice roast and then slumping in front of the football before remembering about that project that definitely had to be completed for the presentation first thing Monday morning.
However, if you were in Glasgow between 1997 and 2010 and just wanted to keep on going there was the option of Optimo, a Sunday night club run by the duo of JD Twitch and Jonnie Wilkes. Like any DJ, they were all about the dancing but they embraced an eclectic range of music that was far broader than their peers but selected as long as it fitted in the set. So all manner of obscure artists old and new, if they had half an eye on the dancefloor, ended up with their music being spun at Optimo; an inventive and open-minded approach that fed into their label.
One of Optimo’s signings was a Glaswegian sextet who were so influenced by what they heard in the club they could almost have been the in-house band, if Optimo had kept going. It’s all there in Golden Teacher’s music: woozy disco, off-kilter funk, a lot of percussion and dubby divergences. A bit like !!!’s albums, there’s a whole mess of styles here cajoled into a relatively coherent seven track statement. Perhaps fittingly, they are now working under their own steam, outside the Optimo umbrella (confusingly, the label has recently released work by The Golden Filter who aren’t related in any way).
Given that previously Golden Teacher have stuck to extended play releases it becomes apparent that they have struggled to shake off the EP format with their first long-player. Indeed, it might have made more sense if they had taken the tunes here and distributed them across a pair of EPs, one of clipped funk and the other of dub excursions. As it is, No Luscious Life is an album of two halves that works best on vinyl. With propulsive punk-funk tracks like “Sauchiehall Withdrawal” and “Spiritron” – heavy on the percussion and declamatory vocals – the first side is all about the energy and the groove.
Flipping it over, the second half draws on a much looser sound with a proper dub version of “Shatter” which originally appeared on the Sauchiehall Enthrall EP; by stripping out the original elements and slowing the tempo it’s now a less frantic and more spacious tune. This is an approach that Golden Teacher carry on to the title track, which even breaks out the woodwind for a wistful conclusion.
It seems like No Luscious Life is a case of right band, right time, wrong format – the seven individually fine songs on their seventh release maybe not flowing as well as could be hoped. In fact the band don’t seem too worried about how it is listened to, describing the album as “simply more music from Golden Teacher”. That’s maybe under-selling it too far in the other direction but as so many records are already consumed in their disparate parts creating an traditional LP record is perhaps no longer the ultimate goal. Anyway, at least half the tracks here will find their way onto mixes, playlists and DJ sets so let’s not be too sad that together it just isn’t quite the statement we’d hoped for – this is after simply more (great) music from Golden Teacher. (Jeremy Bye)