Glasgow-based six piece band Golden Teacher have spent the last four years steadily building a reputation for angular punk-funk / disco grooves, with that city’s influential tastemakers Optimo providing mentorship as well as providing a label home for several of the group’s preceding releases. Rather than rushing things, they’ve taken their time to develop their sound before dropping this debut album ‘No Luscious Life’ on their own label, two years on from their fruitful collaboration with dub / dancehall figurehead Dennis Bovell. In truth the results here are all the better for this approach, and see Golden Teacher using the broader canvas provided here to cover as many different musical bases as possible.
‘Sauchiehall Withdrawal’ opens things on a propulsive punk-funk note, as co-lead vocalist Cassie Ojay’s whispered vocal hook intro provides a Kraftwerk homage, shortly before rattling live percussion and vampy synth flashes lock down into a fluid robotic funk groove akin to ESG or LIquid Liquid’s skeletal contours, the cycling electronics inducing a hypnotic feel as the volleys of woodblocks hammer away against the snare hits. The sense of factory line repetition also works perfectly with Ojay’s pointed lyrics, which centre on the pointlessness of mindnumbing work, with co-lead vocalist Charles Lavenac’s yelled delivery calling to mind !!!’s Nic Offer as he introduces a sense of rowdy chaos to proceedings.
‘Diop’ meanwhile offers up a instrumental homage to Senegalese griot musician Aby Ngana Diop, dropping the pace a few notches as it sends dense layers of multi-tracked African drums through filtering and roto-tom effects, the pitch-shifted tones taking on an almost subaquatic feel as rippling analogue synths chirp away at the very edges. Elsewhere, ‘Spiritron’ ushers a lithe punk-funk / disco workout in the vein of the aforementioned !!! or The Rapture that’s easily one of the most immediately infectious dancefloor fillers here, sending zapping analogue synth arpeggios winding their way against airy house rhythms and Lavenac’s sneeringly cool vocal delivery, in what resembles Mr Fingers given a No New York transfusion.
It’s closing track ‘No Luscious Life’ that sees Golden Teacher taking the listener off on one of their most ambitious journeys here though, as ricocheting volleys of digitally treated percussion swell amidst glittering dubbed-out chimes, before ominous brass signals a turn into more moody waters, Ojay’s rich soul vocal echoing out against rushes of air and an undercurrent of trippy ambient electronics, the rolling tribal drums evoking a sensation that’s more ritualistic than anything else. An impressive debut album that sees Golden Teacher’s patient approach paying off.