Modern Studies is a chamber pop band from Scotland-via-Lancashire. Their quietly experimental landscape songs are played on analogue synths, cello, double bass, drums, guitars, a wine-glass orchestra and, at the creaking center of things, a Victorian pedal harmonium. The band came together in early 2015, when Glasgow songwriter Emily Scott recruited old pals and collaborators Pete Harvey (King Creosote, The Leg), Joe Smillie (Call to Mind) and Rob St. John. Working throughout the year at Pumpkinfield – Pete's rural Perthshire studio – the band shaped a set of Emily's skeleton songs, drawing largely from the salt and spray of the sea.
This communal arts-and-crafts-work resulted in their debut LP Swell to Great (named after an organ stop), which was released on Song, by Toad Records of Edinburgh, Scotland in September 2016. Scott's tender lead vocals soar over the sweeping cello, bellowing harmonium and gentle percussive crashes on "Black Street," "Bottle Green" and "Sleep," while hidden in its depths St. John, whose distinctive vocals recall David Thomas Broughton, experiments with tape loops that are buried within the layers of their orchestral arrangements.
"There is a calmness in its melancholy, a beauty in its blues. These are songs that see the mystical beyond the material, abstracted folk ballads awash in memory." - MOJO