Central And Remote: Abandon Reason
Abandon Reason is an independent label based in Galway. The illuminating sounds on a new compilation, entitled ‘I’m In The Abyss!’ showcases the greatness this label has to offer. A light is cast upon a diverse array of awe-inspiring Irish talent. I am lost for words in beginning to describe my feelings for several of these amazing musicians. Yawning Chasm (AKA Aaron Coyne) is one of my favourite singer-songwriters making music today. Áine O’ Dwyer is a rare and magical force that will leave you dumbfounded; her harp-based folk compositions are steeped in beauty. Raising Holy Sparks (AKA David Colohan) inhabits a distant cosmic space, setting the atmosphere alight. Brigid Power Ryce beautifully re-interprets Irish traditional song. This is merely a fraction of the multitude of talent operating in Abandon Reason. Their songs originate from a real space and time, the abyss-where art is composed and performed.
Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry
“You know your words will fall
flat on the deaf void
You know your bones will merge
with ivies and insects
with rubble and dust”
—‘Peripheral Eyes’ by Yawning Chasm
One of the many transcendent moments scattered throughout ‘I’m In The Abyss’ comes from Aaron Coyne’s voice and baritone ukulele. Under the guise of Yawning Chasm, Coyne creates timeless folk songs. The music of Yawning Chasm inhabits the human space where a vast ocean of feeling and emotion pours into your veins. As with any special singer-songwriter, the voice is paramount; as Brian Wilson once so rightly said: “A voice or a song can be so confronting to someone who really needs it.” Later this year Abandon Reason will release a full-length Yawning Chasm record. It will be undoubtedly one of the albums of 2013.
The ‘I’m In The Abyss’ compilation has introduced me to a whole plethora of innovative, engaging and affecting musicians, not least Brigid Power Ryce. Her accordion and voice fully exploits the vast space of the car park and taps into the human space. This song is closer to a concerto, where each fleeting verse becomes one of many movements. Listen to her voice. I am transported back to a bygone era of Stevie Nicks or Sandy Denny. The accordion drifts beneath her achingly beautiful vocal. The sound of Irish traditional song yet steeped in a newness from a fifth dimension. I think this song in particular, conveys the “abyss”, where the song’s eighth minutes transcends space and time. The power and glory of ‘Tiny You And Me’ serves as a beautiful taster for what is to come for Ryce. A new record is due out on Abandon Reason sometime in 2013.
Next is a gorgeous instrumental entitled ‘Snakes’ performed by Declan Kelly (banjo) and Brigid Power Ryce (harmonium). The instrumental possess an ethereal flow throughout, where the banjo notes rise and fall, creating a magnificent climax as both harmonium and banjo form a crescendo. The sparse instrumental could be taken from a film by Shane Meadows such is the dark beauty that radiates in the envelope of emotion. Timeless.
My highlight comes from Limerick-born, London-based musician Áine O’ Dwyer. To witness Áine’s live performance is one to truly savour and hold onto long after the notes are played and have dispersed into the night. I saw her in support of United Bible Studies late last year (the band which she is also a member of), and for me was one of the most spectacular concerts imaginable. No microphone or aided technology. Her voice and harp creates true art. The acoustics of the space comes to life as the tapestry of harp notes cascade magically across the atmosphere. The dynamic of her performance is staggering, as the hushed tones of delicate notes evolve into an orchestra of swirling notes and enthralling vocals. The song ‘Albion Awake’ is a beautiful glimpse of this gifted songwriter and musician.
‘In Winter’ by Burrows is reworked here as a harmonium version. The soundscapes of ethereal voice and harmonium combines together to form an ambient/drone song cycle. Think Beth Gibbons alongside Grouper. The music is captivating. The track begins as an improvisation on harmonium that melds into the title-track from Burrows’ (AKA Kate Glavey) album ‘In Winter’.
A haunting and beguiling sound is created by David Colohan’s Raising Holy Sparks. One feels time stand still as the sacred a cappella of voices (Brigid Power Ryce, Declan Kelly, Kaiser Caimo, Aaron Coyne, and leader David Colohan). The instrumentation of melodica, trombone, shruti box and cello adds to the eerie sense of space. As the song title suggests, Raising Holy Sparks and the Abandon Reason roster of talent, set the landscape singing, and what a beautiful sight and sound it is.
“Peripheral eyes, a half smile
You’re in a dream without
—‘Peripheral Eyes’ by Yawning Chasm
“I’m In The Abyss!” is out now on Abandon Reason Records.
Richard Dawson Irish Tour
The first date is in Dublin on Thursday the 7th of March at 8pm and takes place upstairs in Whelan’s (€8 entry). Support is from Raising Holy Sparks, Yawning Chasm and Birchall/Cheetham duo (a drums&guitar improv act) (Whelan’s website here).
Next is Cork on Friday the 8th, taking place in Plugd, again at 8pm, entry is €7. Support again from Raising Holy Sparks, and opens with a rare screening of avant-garde ‘king of Super-8’ Saul Levine’s “Notes of an Early Fall” (1976, 34 mins). (Facebook event page here).
Last stop is Galway on Saturday the 9th. The venue is DeBurgos (a beautiful converted medieval wine cellar, used to host the excellent Stress nights) 9:15pm, €7 entry. Support is from Brigid Power Ryce and The Driftwood Manor. (Facebook event page here.)