Edinburgh electronica duo take you on a bewitching trip.
“I dIdn’t realIse I could sing until I was about 20.”
It’s this revelation by Midas Falls’ Elizabeth Heaton that perhaps sums up the subtle, beautiful and humble charm of Midas Fall. One of the band’s most notable features is her remarkable voice that combines the otherworldly oddness of Bat For Lashes with the purity of Anneke van Giersbergen.
The origins of Midas Fall lie in Edinburgh’s eclectic music scene, where Heaton and Rowan Burn met. Now on their fourth album, they combine post-rock melancholy with the icy beauty associated with the electronica of Ólafur Arnalds. It’s shattering stuff, suited to the wildness of north west Scotland where the pair are now based.
Perhaps their diverse influences helped to create their unusual sound. When they met, Burn was into Tool, Primus and Pantera, while Heaton listened to a lot of post-rock and folk. To gales of laughter, Burn points out,“You had your big phase of listening only to Frames for about three months. It was becoming quite an agony.” Heaton acknowledges with a laugh, “Yeah, I think that annoyed you quite a bit!”
It’s this chemistry that seems to drive Midas Fall forward. New album Evaporate represents a key development in their musical journey. As Burn says,“The first three albums we worked with other musicians, but the latest has been entirely us. It’s been different to do it that way.”
Certainly Evaporate feels like a huge step forward from their last album, The Menagerie Inside, which was shaped by a rock sensibility and basically recorded in a week. This time the soundscape has been more clearly defined by classical sounds and new technologies, especially the cello and use of the Eventide reverb pedal. The balance gives Evaporate a real emotional grip.
A cynic might claim that this reflects the fact that this is music made by women. Burn and Heaton rightly have a lot of push-back to offer in the #MeToo era. When asked how it is being a woman in rock’n’roll, Burn says, “It varies between being fine and a total fucking nightmare,” adding, “The condescension you have to put up with is maddening.”
Heaton agrees. “Post-rock is still seen as a boys’ club,” she says, but Midas Fall push stale concepts of genre out of shape and show what talent – whether male or female – looks like.
Neither have formal training, making facility with a wide range of instruments even more impressive. Burn recalls how, as a child, “There was an ad in Tesco’s, some old woman was selling an old piano for a tenner and I had 10 quid’s worth of pocket money and my mum got it for me. I couldn’t play it, I just bashed around. I got lessons, but I think the piano teacher was exasperated by me and gave up. When the band started, all I could play was guitar.”
Midas Fall have come a long way since those origins. Laughing, Burn adds, “I think with this album we got to the point where our playing of instruments like the drums or keys was acceptable.”
It’s as if they’ve found their raison d’être, and it shows. As Heaton reveals about Evaporate,“We were more controlled. We’re not trying to overcomplicate. It’s more soundscape-y and textural.”
Characteristically, Burn finishes the sentence: “There’s space to breathe.” rM
“WE’RE NOT TRYING TO OVERCOMPLICATE.”
MIDAS FALL, L-R: ELIZABETH HEATON,