On 20 April St Andrews dropped what can only be described as the ‘phattest mixtape of 2015’ in the form of Salvator Mundi – The Purcell Legacy. Kanye is worried, Beyonce is frantically scribbling away and Alex Turner reportedly dropped the microphone he was holding at the time he was told.
‘How can we release a mixtape?’ you cry. Well it’s because we now have a record label. This tiny little Scottish seaside university town has a record label. How in the name of Hendrix did we manage to get a record label? Announced during On the Rocks last week, the idea appears to have come up in a fit of hubris and spirituality leading to a recording of our very own St Salvator’s Chapel Choir performing the songs of Henry Purcell, John Blow, Jeremiah Clark, and, apparently, the very first recording of an anthem called Hear me O God by William Jackson. Apparently this is exciting. In its own way I suppose it is.
The label, which is predicted by almost all market research to rival Parlophone, Atlantic and EMI by the second quarter of 2016, It is going to be called Sanctiandree, a name which Will.I.Am. went on record describing as ‘dank’ last week. It reportedly plans to release a CD every six months, an idea which I cannot help but find something of a pipe dream at this stage, especially considering all the trials and tribulations of recording music. The St Salvator’s Chapel Choir may have made their first album with ease, but what of the inevitable difficult second album? That third album which is a concept album performed using Mongolian throat singers? Not to mention the crisis when one of the tenors leaves to find himself in Peru and write a solo album? It could be difficult to keep up that kind of rate of release.
The release date for the first album was of course set, hilariously, for 20 April. Reports of any praising of Jah in the record have been vehemently denied by all involved, but rumours persist that if you play the record backwards the words ‘Rise, Jah and give us your glory’ can be heard throughout the William Jackson number, something which again has been denied. On top of this release the choir are due to embark on an epic US tour this year, where they hope that rumours of the hedonism of previous tours to Spain, Germany and Cyprus will not ruin what I’m sure promises to be an unparalleled success.
It is at this point though, that I will stop to apologise. Those reading closely may have realised a slight sarcastic tone in the previous part of the article and for that I am truly sorry. It’s just that my ears pricked up when hearing of a ‘new St Andrews record label’. Hell, it was never going to be rock ’n’ roll, but I thought at least Music is Love could perhaps have tried to get involved, and put out a couple of singles. It would have provided an ideal outlet for new local music. St Andrews might even have become ‘cool’. And then reading the preamble of the concept my hopes were dashed. It appears, certainly considering the name and first release, that the Sanctiandree label will exist solely to perform the self-important circlejerk this university seems uniquely predisposed to performing at all possible moments. St Andrews, seemingly stuck in the past yet also trying desperately to scramble some semblance of modern relevance together, has succeeded in creating a label, an ostensibly exciting thing, and then chosen to release their own be-gowned choir on it. This is, of course, entirely my own opinion on it, but I personally find that type of music intensely depressing, and makes me want to stab my hands with pointed sticks.
I may very well have misjudged the situation too. Perhaps it is primarily a vehicle towards allowing directly university affiliated groups such as the St Salvators Chapel Choir have an outlet in order to spread their music around more easily. This I can respect in theory. But to be the first university in Scotland to create a record label considering we have not only Edinburgh but also Glasgow university to compete with is amazing, especially considering their positions as ‘Places Where Interesting Things Actually Happen’. And it would have been a unique opportunity to perhaps put ourselves slightly closer to their camp, yet we don’t appear to have taken it. Perhaps the label will, eventually strike a deal with Music is Love and suddenly we become a vibrant place for musicians, however in its present state it seems unlikely. Until then, we will simply have to lay on our beds, pondering what could have been while ‘Hear me O God’ warbles blindly onwards in the background.