Central And Remote: Seti The First
Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry
I recently discovered the music of Seti The First on a summer’s afternoon while tuning in to John Kelly’s JK Ensemble music program on Lyric FM. Their track was played between Steve Reich and Kronos Quartet. Seti The First fitted perfectly amongst the rhythmic pulses of Reich and the soaring strings of Kronos Quartet. The album in question is ‘Melting Cavalry’ and it’s Seti The First’s debut album where film score, experimental and soundtrack are obvious tags to describe their sound.
Seti The First (named after an Egyptian King), is a cello based instrumental project consisting of two extremely talented Irish musicians, Kevin Murphy and Thomas Hough. Both musicians have been long associated with experimental music, working on many projects and collaborations. Cellist and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Murphy, was an integral force in the critically acclaimed, Dublin based band Igloo in the late 90’s. He has also worked with a diverse array of artists such as Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), Gavin Friday, Adrian Crowley, Valerie Francis and Norah Belle among many others. Thomas Hough, under the moniker Hulk, has released two critically acclaimed albums. He has also played with the Plague Monkeys, produced records for artists such as Adrian Crowley and remixed notable artists, not least Efterklang.
Opening track ‘La Bassinette Noir’ starts with an urgency of warm percussion and acoustic instrumentation. Pastoral folk splendour etched across a cinematic landscape of gorgeous cello, viola and double bass. You have been introduced to Seti The First and all at once the music sounds familiar yet unknown, steeped in magical notes and melodies. The album opener is in the vein of American chamber music group Rachel’s, containing an utterly evocative soundscape fronted by glorious strings. ‘Sugar To Sea Lion’ is reminiscent of Nick Cave & Warren Ellis’ film score work for ‘The Proposition’ and ‘The Road’. Eerie strings are played over brooding trumpets. One of the album’s highlight is the moment the piano enters amidst a crescendo of brass. ‘Sugar To Sea Lion’ was featured in Garvan Gallagher’s highly acclaimed film, ‘Hidden Garden’. ‘Victory Motel’ is sublime and my favourite piece on ‘Melting Cavalry’. The instrumental begins with a plucked double bass beneath delicate cello and viola conjuring up a sound similar to French artist Colleen. This piece of music is a musical feast. Halfway through piano chords appear and is simply mesmerizing. Listening to the high piano notes with the soothing strings makes me picture scenes from ‘The Assassination of Jesse James’, whose score was composed by Ellis and Cave. Yes, it’s that good. Drums erupt in ‘New Brass Bird’ which changes the sound dynamic. Rhythmic pulses of strings begin the piece that could be Reich or Glass.
The next two pieces, title track ‘Melting Cavalry’ and ‘A Ship A Ghost’ are calm and meditative with more fine arrangements of strings providing an atmospheric sonic backdrop. ‘Sisters Of The Red Diamond’ is the longest piece on the album at over seven minutes in length. Mysterious strings slowly build before trumpet and flugelhorn arrive bringing free jazz elements to proceedings. The piece develops into a momentous wall of sound as drums and percussion come to the fore along with the soaring cello and viola strings. Icelandic bands Sigur Ros and Mum come to mind such is its brilliance. The piece ‘Citric Dirt’ is the album’s penultimate track that provides a searing backdrop to Dearbhla Glyn’s portrayal of the Gaza Tunnel in ‘Ag Filleadh Ar Gaza’.
For fans of Marsen Jules, Hauschka, Dirty Three, Rachel’s et al, you will certainly not be disappointed. Please go seek out Seti The First.
‘Melting Cavalry’ is available for download here: http://setithefirst.bandcamp.com/