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Town gets blend of pop, art, poetry and whisky

Oh, the perks of Aberfeldy.

LOMOND CAMPBELL: Will play tomorrow afternoon and night.
LOMOND CAMPBELL: Will play tomorrow afternoon and night.

As well as being a scenic realm and earthly muse to Robert Burns, the Perthshire town is on the verge of a weekend of pop, art, poetry, cinema, fireworks and amber carousal. And it is all to the tune of King Creosote, Stanley Odd, James Yorkston, Conquering Animal Sound, Withered Hand, Meursault and more.

Now in its fourth year, and sponsored by Dewar's (whose historic distillery is based in the town), the Aberfeldy Festival was instigated by local artist Ryan Hannigan, of local Americana-heartbreakers Star Wheel Press. It is co-curated by writer and rock 'n' roll aficionado Ian Rankin, who will appear at the festival.

The programme promises a blend of upcoming talent (alt-rock gunslingers Book Group; femme-pop rabble TeenCanteen), old friends (Star Wheel Press) and revamped favourites: The Phantom Band's Rick Anthony revisits under his peat-crackling solo Rick Redbeard moniker; Found frontman Ziggy Campbell returns as kosmische-pop wolf Lomond Campbell.

In addition to Campbell's performance tomorrow night - where he will be joined by Found's River Of Slime - he is set to collaborate with King Creosote in the town square tomorrow afternoon (Withered Hand, Saint Motel and Rick Redbeard will also play sets). Billed as "Lomond Creosote", this acoustic union ties in with a collaborative vinyl LP that was conceived by Dewar's, and which will be available to buy at the festival.

Entitled Experimental Batch #26, and starring, among others, King Creosote, Lomond Campbell and James Yorkston alongside Indian pop trailblazers Raghu Dixhit and Suhail Yusuf Khan, all under the loose-knit "Dewarists" umbrella, the album thrives on spontaneity and collective spirit.

It was largely made in a week last summer, in a temporary studio at Edinburgh College Of Art. "It was on-the-hoof and muddled, but that was great," says Campbell. "I had half-ideas, and Kenny (Anderson, aka King Creosote) jammed his out on the spot. There was a lot done in quite a short space of time."

Produced by Paul Savage and with vintage, homely artwork and photography from Sean Dooley, Experimental Batch #26 underscores Dewar's penchant for product fetishism.

The firm's commitment to bespoke artefacts, unique experiences and catalogue numbers - which also includes commemorative whisky blends for a live-only King Creosote album (Nth Bits of Strange), and for Found and Aidan Moffat's #Unravel art-pop installation - has more in common with the post-punk ethos of Factory Records or Fast Product that it does with traditional corporate backing.

Stephen Marshall, of Dewar's, which also sponsors the Scottish Album Of The Year Award, suggests the company is interested in the facilitation and creation of art and events, as opposed to simply branding them.

"It is important to contribute to Scotland culturally,"

He says. "Scotland is an incredibly creatively fertile place and whisky has always been integral to that - we should all play our part. Creating the album was one of the best things we have done. That music is out there forever now. And it is really good."

Suhail Yusuf Khan will perform with James Yorkston at Abefeldy Festival on Sunday night, as part of the "Dewarist Sessions", and the weekend sees many more pop treats besides, including Randolph's Leap and The Last Battle.

Marshall believes the festival programme resonates with the Dewar's aesthetic. "We try and work with people we think are interesting and have stories to tell - whisky is all about stories," he says. "Two of the most interesting things this year are Aidan Moffat and Found's #Unravel and Neu! Reekie! which is Michael Pederson and Kevin Williamson's amazing visual, poetry and music thing.

"We have also worked on another art installation this year with Found, it's called Tasting Notes and we'll debut it at the distillery at the festival."

Found continue to operate as a truly ingenious, thought-provoking and collaborative art collective, often in cahoots with Simon Kirby, a professor of Language Evolution at Edinburgh University.

Following in the android footsteps of Cybraphon, their Bafta-winning emotive robot pop star (in a wardrobe), and their interactive mechano-band #Unravel, Tasting Notes allows individuals to "dial in" whisky flavours, aromas, and moods, and in return they will receive a bespoke printout of whisky tasting notes, with an individual piece of music attached (as a download code), courtesy of variations on the Experimental Batch #26 album.

Tasting Notes also explores the ways in which memory can affect an experience - how music sounds, how whisky tastes, what we take away from a piece of art, or indeed from a place.

Aberfeldy Festival, today until Sunday. www.aberfeldyfestival.co.uk

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