Imagine a bubbling cauldron in a remote corner of the Orkney Islands into which Half Cousin principal songwriters, Kevin McCormack and his old schoolmate Jimmy Hogarth, have poured found sounds, accordions, eye of newt, syncopated beats, eerie vocals, twangs, tongue of dog, and electronica, and you have an inkling of the musical alchemy experiments carried out for their second album together, Iodine.
We mounted a darkened staircase into Kilburn's elfin grot of Luminaire, where McCormack opened with an acoustic solo track that whirled like the Magic Roundabout on rohipnol, a giddying blur of lilting, indecipherable lyrics, feedback and loops. Joined by the full Half Cousin contingent for folkier meanderings such as Country Cassette and Jim's Crash Memory, accordions, pipes, keyboard and beats were deployed seemingly at random.
At the encore, audience chatterings hushed for McCormack's solo renditions of standout track, The Absentee, and the contemplative, acoustic Abide. It was at moments during these songs, unadulterated by backing musicians, that it seemed McCormack came closest to finding the philosopher's stone and transmuting his base ingredients into gold.
Words by Emilicon Ashton