Round these here Scottish music parts, David Cowan is best known for his Hugh McKenna role in The Sensational Alex Harvey Experience, one of Scotland’s premier tribute acts.
It’s a musical part he plays very well indeed but, but much like the late Hugh McKenna, there’s a lot more to David Cowan’s keyboard array than Sensational Harvey classics.
There’s his compositional skills for a start.
Such skills are to the fore on debut solo album Out Of The Dark, which both expands David Cowan’s sonic palette and ticks the musical box of his love for soundtrack/ suspense styled music of the 70s & 80s and the likes of John Carpenter and Harry Manfredini (there’s also a little Keith Emerson in soundtrack mode here too).
The atmospheric and pseudo-eery 'Introduction,' featuring intentionally ambiguous voiceover dialogue from Max Maxwell (who fronted SAHB in their second and final reunion phase in the early 2000s) sets up the not sure what’s coming next uncertainty that’s prevalent in the best at suspense movies and their accompanying soundtracks.
In David Cowan’s case there is no movie, although you feel there must be one is his cinematic head (there’s definitely a correlation between some of the motifs and many of the sci-fi tinted titles).
Either way he’s certainly got the compositional strengths, as the bigger and bolder instrumental section of 'Introduction' proves, as does following track 'The Beginning,' a shimmering and at times frantic synth & rock guitar (featuring Zal Cleminson) outing that leads to the atmospheric keyboard depths of 'Abyss.'
Other highlights across the ten tracks include rhythmic synth & piano led brace 'Replicant' and 'Arrival,' the classical meets smooth jazz themed 'Nebulosa' and penultimate track 'Distant Dream,' a lovely piano piece with a beat driven central section.
Bookending the album is another voiced track, 'Trapped in Time' (the epilogue to the 'Introduction' prologue), featuring Mike Drew (aka Sir Henry Baskerville).
It’s another ambiguous narrative that hints, as the title suggests, of a future trapped in the past.
Out Of The Dark is a fine start to solo proceedings from an accomplished player and one that seems to have sparked prolific musical activity - no sooner was this album delivered than David Cowan was reporting on the early stages progress of Out Of The Dark Part II and that the semi-conceptual work will be a trilogy.