Trying to describe Richard Youngs is a difficult task. The Glaswegian has released too many albums to list here and it would be fair to assume that with such a large back catalogue that finding words to describe his music succinctly would be no trouble. Not so I'm afraid. The multi-instrumentalist has released records that could be described as experimental, minimal, folk, avant-garde and almost everything in-between. When his latest offering Amplifying Host landed on my doormat I had no idea what to expect, which is an unusual and refreshing change in today's spoiler heavy internet world.

Opener 'Furrows Again' places the latest album in the folk sphere, albeit with an experimental/avant-garde flavour and the album stays pretty much in this area throughout. The main guitar plucks away in the foreground, while the drums are sparse and discordant. Vocally, the song strays into Nick Drake territory now and then, without ever settling into a typical vocal structure. The combination of the percussion, vocals and acoustic guitar sit nicely together but when the electric guitar joins proceedings things get a little more experimental. Youngs somehow manages to evoke a feeling of desperation and longing from the guitar effects on this track. This is a feeling that permeates the whole album.

'Too Strong For The Power' is a mammoth track, weighing in at a shade under thirteen and a half minutes, more than a third of the album's total running time. The experimental folk feel is very apparent once again and the impressive thing here is the song never feels a slog. What can be the running time of four songs from other bands passes quicker than you may think. The warm acoustic sound is prevalent again, while the cymbals give the impression of a warm wave of sound washing over you. Again the song is vocally sparse and as your lulled into a nice place by the soothing acoustic guitar and percussion, some pretty harsh guitars are thrown in to mix things up and snatch you from your comfort zone. It again shows Youngs playing with the conventions of folk music and taking it to a darker place.

The basic acoustic guitar sound is replicated and modified throughout the record and forms the backbone of most tracks. To varying degrees the drums and cymbals play a part in the overall texture, sometimes being to the fore while occasionally flitting in and out at the edge of hearing. Vocally the story is similar. Sometimes hard to grasp, the vocals wax and wane in intensity while hanging over each track like a malevolent cloud is that mournful, desperate sounding guitar. There's also a wind instrument brought in on "Tessellations' adding yet another dimension to the surprisingly complex songs. 'Holding Onto The Sea' has an altogether warmer feel than previous tracks. The guitar is richer while the drums and cymbals give the impression of waves clashing against rocks. Probably not so surprising given the title of the song, but it's very effective in placing you firmly where it wants. There's also a more prominent bass guitar this time round and towards the end of the track the guitar gets urgent, hurriedly picking out notes in a quite demented finale.

There's a more settled feel on the final two tracks. A sense of calm prevails on 'A Hole In The Earth' as the vocals again flit in and out. The guitar feels more balanced and less manic, like the storm and raging seas of the previous track have abated. Closer 'This Is The Music' further cements this feeling, albeit with a twist. The feeling from the outset is much lighter as the warm sounds again wash over you. The vocals here feel much stronger and richer but in counterpoint to this relaxed air the doom laden guitar is back and this time sounding more urgent than ever. It's given more prominence here as if to warn against complacency. It's very effective at it too.

On the whole, this is a challenging record. It's appears to be folk on the surface, but appearances can be deceiving. There's a lot of experimentation going on here. Song structures tend to buck the traditions and some of the music is at odds with other parts. It works though. The folk genre is pretty overpopulated at the moment with a thousand Fleet Foxes wannabes so this album is a refreshing change of direction from that. This is Youngs playing on genre conventions and adding lots of himself and what he feels a folk record should be. It's not immediately accessible thanks to the sometimes experimental feel but it deserves a chance to be heard. At times it feels like a concept album and you can hear the progression from the first track through to the last. Each song feels like a new chapter in an overall story. Those portentous guitar effects come right back at the end though, so perhaps it's not a story with a happy ending. It is however, a record worth having a listen to. It won't be for everyone but there's a lot of ideas in here and conventions being turned on their heads and that's worth something alone.