Anna Meredith


(Moshi Moshi/Black Prince Fury)

On her last outing last year, the London-born and Edinburgh-bred composer, performer and producer gave her twist on Vivaldi's Four Seasons with the help of the Scottish Ensemble marrying discordant electronics with ferocious strings.

It is the kind of project that reveals just how much Meredith cannot be pinned down to anything predictable and it would be so easy after her 2016 Scottish Album of the Year-winning synth-heavy LP Varmints.

On FIBS, the former composer-in-residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's second album follows an even more experimental pattern, creating a 45 minute thrill ride, which constantly switches pace and musical influences from classical to 80s synthpop to alternative rock.

Tubas, cellos and violins are not off limits; nothing is in this genre-busting and unpredictable creative treasure.

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It kicks off with the frenetic electro blast of Sawbones, indulging in the kind of musclebound electronics Blanck Mass has perfected.

But then comes a dramatic change of tone, and the glorious track two, Inhale Exhale, where the 41-year-old musician tries her hand at a straightforward synth-pop song and singing, and becomes an instant highlight to be played on repeat.

It encapsulates that outsider attitude Meredith can't help but reveal, with lyrics which explain how having a wild time is not all that it is cut out to be. "You say you’re dancing in the deep end, but to me it looks like drowning," sums that up quite nicely.

Moonmoon later switches into haunting classical mode, while Limpet switches things round again with an arresting alternative rock cut, while Ribbons is a smooth minimalist pop tune that has flavours of Prefab Sprout.

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Meredith's mercurial vision is highlighted in Paramour, a sublime instrumental concoction of noise rock, electro and classical without sounding completely like any of the three.

The fact Meredith was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to music without this incendiary album even being in anyone's consciousness, shows what a talent we have here.

What does Anna Meredith say about the album?

“It’s been hugely time-consuming,” she explains. “More instruments, more involvement from the band, more layers, just more. So it’s just been months and months and months in the writing and recording.

“The music here isn’t about politics or poetry or art or the world, really. It’s just about what works in the music. It’s a vehicle for itself, working with and in service of itself.

“I’m not trying to be clever — I’m trying to be really open and I’m giving everything of myself.

“I’m laying myself bare. I want people to come with me on the whole shape of the album. The journey is not designed as an academic exercise. It’s supposed to be visceral. Get on board. Come with me. This music’s doing something.”

FIBS, says Meredith, are “lies — but nice friendly lies, little stories and constructions and daydreams and narratives that you make for yourself or you tell yourself”.