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Discovery zone

Inspace, part of Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics, isn’t your traditional art gallery; it prefers to style itself as a public engagement laboratory, where science and technology edge their way into art’s domain.

Neither are FOUND your traditional guitar band.

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The Edinburgh trio have worked on several gallery pieces in the past and recently received an award from Creative Scotland’s Vital Spark programme to collaborate with Aiden Moffat (ex-Arab Strap) and the university’s Professor Simon Kirby on a narrative-based sound installation. Now their third album – Factorycraft – is ready for release on the Chemikal Underground label tomorrow.

In fact, FOUND are no strangers to Inspace: this is where they unveiled Cybraphon, their “autonomous, emotional robot band” housed in an antique glass cabinet and connected to all manner of social media that alter its mood. It’s also here that, later this week, they’ll contribute their wooden-veneer, audio-recording sculpture End Of Forgetting to group show Material Rites.

So, Inspace is where we meet; but let’s push the art stuff aside for the time being and concentrate on the music. Factorycraft is the first FOUND album to be recorded as a core trio (rather than the collective five-piece of the earlier work), and it’s a tighter, more organic entity for that. Eschewing their old DIY approach, the band headed to the Chem 19 studio in Lanarkshire and played under the guidance of producer Paul Savage.

“I was getting a bit bored of our sound,” admits singer/guitarist Ziggy Campbell who, along with bassist Tommy Perman and electronics/percussionist Kev Sim, forms the FOUND trio. “When we were playing live, I thought it was too cluttered. So we lost two members. After that, it gave us a clean slate to work on; there was no loose, edgy stuff going on. Now, rather than piecing the songs together then learning how to play them, we’d bring the ideas in and build it up as a band. [On the early albums] you can hear that Kev would come up with an idea that’s a minute long, and I would have the start of a song, and then Tommy would have an idea. And it was like, ‘We can’t finish this so let’s put those three things together and we’ve got three minutes – that’s a song, yeah?’”

There’s a clear progression through FOUND’s recorded work, and it can be marked by the stepping stones of their album labels. First, on the homemade Surface Pressure label, came FOUND Can Move; it was followed by the more experimental This Mess We Keep Reshaping on Fence, the Fife collective headed by King Creosote. Now, with Factorycraft, they’re joining the massed ranks of Chemikal Underground, home at various times to The Delgados, Mogwai, The Phantom Band and many others. It’s the perfect environment for FOUND’s arty alt.rock envelope-pushing pop songs.

“At the point when we went in to record, we weren’t on Chemikal,” admits Perman. “We recorded it first then pitched the record around. But we were getting really drawn-out responses from the labels. You’d email them one week to ask if they’d got the record: ‘Yeah, it’s in my pile of things to listen to, the A&R guy is going to be in for a meeting next Tuesday and it’s on the list.’ And you’d get back in touch and ask if they’d listened to it this week. ‘No, but we will ...’”

“It’s kind of disheartening and we were thinking it would never come out,” continues Campbell. “And then out of the blue we got an email from Stewart [Henderson] at Chemikal Underground, just registering his interest in releasing it. It was a really humble approach: ‘I know you’re shopping it around and loads of folk will be into it, but if you’d consider releasing it with us ...’ So we went for a meeting with them, and straight away we knew it was going to be right.”

The Chemikal Underground name obviously carries some weight. Returning to her 6 Music radio show after maternity leave, one of the first songs cued up by Lauren Laverne was Shallow (track five on Factorycraft), and the Tweet she sent out encouraging listeners to check out Chemikal’s latest signing had a positive effect. For Perman, it’s the reward for all that past effort.

“For years with the band, we’d maybe do a session for [Radio 1 DJ] Huw Stephens, and I’d be thinking, ‘This is it, this is when people are going to start paying attention to us’. And then … nothing. Or a review in Observer Music Monthly: you’d get all excited and then … nothing. But the other day, when Lauren Laverne picked Shallow as her Headphones Moment track, tons of people instantly started following us on Twitter.”

It was only a single tweet in a big ocean of social media. But FOUND know they’ve got one of the best albums of 2011 in their hands and that, finally, the message is getting out there.

Factorycraft is released tomorrow. FOUND launch the album at Captain’s Rest, Glasgow tomorrow and support The Phantom Band at Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh on Thursday. Material Rites is at Inspace, Crichton Street, Edinburgh, March 18-31

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