FRACTURED AIR

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Posts Tagged ‘Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

Central And Remote: This Is How We Fly

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The idea of foreign fields appeals to me in both directions – the strangeness of the vast acres over there, but the memory too of every blade of grass back home, every ditch, gripe and clump of rushes.”

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

Words: Mark Carry

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The live performances of contemporary folk quartet This Is How We Fly forever fill you with awe-struck wonder and inspiration. The gifted quartet of Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (hardanger d’amore), Seán Mac Erlaine (clarinets and electronics), Nic Gareiss (percussive dance) and Petter Berndalen (drums) have created their own unique musical language – ever since their self-titled debut dropped in 2013 – with a deep understanding and rich chemistry forever inherent between its members. An evolution it seems is always happening between the players and the band’s latest sophomore release ‘Foreign Fields’ marks a masterful exploration into new sonic plains that delves deeper (than ever before) into enchanting realms of new possibilities.

The opening notes of  ‘A Man Of Few Words’ begins with hushed fiddle notes and delicate percussive dance, before warm textures of electronics and Berndalen’s drums ascend into the ethereal mix. Ó Raghallaigh’s deeply poignant and mournful fiddle notes brilliantly close the piece. Each breath, pulse and texture of ‘The Bittersweet March’ is a joy to savour: the heavenly blend of woodwind and strings amidst the soaring crescendo of drums and percussion (towards the final section) harkens to a symphony of celestial sounds.

Some of the band’s strongest works are beautifully captured on ‘Foreign Fields’ (which was recorded live in Dublin’s Fumbally Stables). ‘Ri Rua’ is an uplifting, heartfelt  lament with a vast array of colours and textures swarming across the sonic space: the duet between MacErlaine’s clarinet and O’ Raghallaigh’s hardanger d’amore is steeped in jazz, folk and classical flourishes. The way the piece transforms and continually builds is further heightened by the myriad of rhythmic textures masterfully supplied by Gareiss and Berndalen.

To trace the origins of the sounds unleashed by This Is How We Fly is a near-impossible task. One of the great hallmarks of their musical identity is the boundless nature of their musical framework: age-old traditions of Swedish folk music and Appalachian music, Irish tradtional are embedded somewhere deep in the foundations but most importantly, many experimental and contemporary sounds and nuances seep into the music, like the river finding its sea. I feel this becomes the essence of ‘Foreign Fields’ and a piece such as ‘Ti Mor’ epitomises the bold spirit of the quartet’s latest masterwork. The hypnotic, trance-like rhythms – which feels rooted deep in Africa – creates an utterly transcendent electronic exploration. The deep dialogue between Gareiss and Berndalen as the footwork and drums become one sound-world of dark, menacing textures. The brooding strings further adds to the cinematic brilliance of this piece, shifting between dub and electronic sound worlds.

The last couple of This Is How We Fly live shows I’ve witnessed, the group played in the round, so the audience and musicians effectively became one. The musicians – and audience alike – share the same experience, feeling each other’s heart beat to the sumptuous textures and sonic timbres to the quartet’s empowering musical journey. It’s precisely this image that encapsulates their remarkable latest full-length where each and every breath is shared, in turn by musician and listener alike.

‘Foreign Fields’ is available NOW.

http://www.thisishowwefly.net/

https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsHowWeFly/

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Interview with This Is How We Fly.

 

 Congratulations on the truly sublime sophomore release ‘Foreign Fields’, it’s such a remarkable and stunning feat. One of the aspects I particularly love about this latest chapter is how the quartet explores much further and deeper into more contemporary and experimental terrain as illustrated by the wide range of sounds and possibilities attained throughout. Please take me back to the three nights of live performances at the Fumbally Stables and your memories of the music-making process during this special time? Describe the space as a live setting and your live set-up in this space too?

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh: The Fumbally Stables is a small room at the back of the Fumbally Cafe in Dublin, just off Clanbrassil Street, which has built up a wonderful vibrant community around it over the last few years, and it is run by friends of ours.  We played three nights in a row in front of a small audience each night, maybe 40/50 people.  We played in the round, which is a real treat for us, and something that we had experimented with at both the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh and the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan.  It’s such a lovely way to play together, as opposed to being fanned out across a stage, much more intimate and easier to connect with and hear everyone.  We played pretty much acoustically, with a small Genelec speaker for Seán’s live processing, and also some reinforcement for Petter’s percussion.

Nic Gareiss: It was January when we recorded so we tried to create as warm and inviting an atmosphere as possible: ambient light, candles, people sitting very close to one another and to us. I think that’s really evident in the recording and in the video Myles O’Reilly of Arbutus Yarns shot for the single “Rí Rua”. The idea of crafting the space for an audience to exist, in addition to the actual music or movement they experience is something I’ve become really interested in lately as a performer.  There’s something quite rewarding about preparing the actual space in which the “event” will occur and realizing that it has a large impact on the way the sounds and dance steps are received!

Seán Mac Erlaine: The really big part of what we do in performance is to make a very real communication between the group and the audience as well as a constant communication between the four of us making the music. So with this second album it seemed important to try and capture that and to try and get away from the typical recording studio set-up where there is physical separation between musicians. At the same time we like to present our music in the best way possible so we didn’t want this to have one of those live-album-so-we-can-forgive-the-crappy-sound attempts, y’know those ones where the singer forgets some of the words and the bass player is a little out of tune sometimes… We hired in Mats Helgesson from Sweden who is an expert in live recording and who managed to make us sound like we were in a studio but with an audience (who remained amazingly quiet!!!).

Petter Berndalen: Just for these concerts I had to think of several different angles. I would both play the concerts as a musician, but I also felt a responsibility to create something that was afterwards formable to a sound that had evolved into my mind from the launch of our debut album and up to now.

With the thought that I would like to mix our new album, the thoughts fell sharply in Mats’s direction. Furthermore, Mats and me put together an audio equipment of utmost quality, the choices we made of, among other things, microphones, preamps, cables, created a first form of what we can hear on the album today.

I’d love to gain an insight into your discussions and creative aspirations – as a quartet – that you would have been sharing and discussing prior to the recording/live performances back in January? For instance, having the gorgeous debut album already under your belt and having played many live shows worldwide in support of that album, you must have had a whole world of ideas and avenues in which you all wanted to explore on this highly anticipated follow-up?

CÓR: I think we wanted to create some music that was more integrated, rather than one person bringing a tune that the rest of the band then subsequently arranges.  So finding ways of writing music together was definitely a priority.  We also chose not to follow the route of making arrangements of traditional tunes, preferring to focus primarily on music we write.

SME: All those live gigs really shape the band so we start to understand more what the group can do and where we might be able to push things forward in our sound. The new album does – thankfully – sound different to the first one and I think it represents how we have grown together. Having writing time together was essential to make that happen and there’s more of everyone, and everyone at once, on this new record.

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The title-track is a formidable piece of music, eternally mystical and bright melodies of rejoice. This piece is essentially in two parts and how the darker, inward patterns of part B fades into focus is a joy to savour. Can you talk me through this piece and the layering/construction of the various elements? It’s one of those incredible feats just how these intricate layers of achingly beautiful sounds fuse together so effortlessly, and these warm textures and motifs forever heighten and inspire. As a title also (and particularly as the album title), I’d love for you to discuss the significance or meaning of the title?

CÓR: The title ‘Foreign Fields’ comes from a poem my cousin Anthony Cunningham wrote for his father.  Sonny left Longford for New York when he was a very young man, and though he reached into his eighties, he never once returned home.  The idea of foreign fields appeals to me in both directions – the strangeness of the vast acres over there, but the memory too of every blade of grass back home, every ditch, gripe and clump of rushes.

SME: It’s an example of what happens when we get to write in the same space together. All the parts are written in the room at once so that they interlock and reinforce each other. I guess it’s this approach to composition that we were really seeking out rather than taking a piece which more or less exists and either just playing it or, worse, playing on top of it. It takes much more time to develop music this way but it’s been really satisfying for us and a nice challenge to play too.

PB: My favorite moment in the creation of this composition was when I and Nic suddenly found ourselves in the rhythmic dark texture that companions the march melody. The sound of that rhythm, the rhythm in itself and the way it fits in its context is the result of my and Nics un verbal common language, constantly evolving over the seven years we have been listening to and communicating with each other.

I get the impression that ‘Fjellvant’ feels like a piece that perhaps Petter brought to the table? The voice treatments and cinematic dimension that this composition inhabits unleashes a wall of raw emotion. I wonder as the quartet would often be split up, both geographically and being busy with other projects and musical incarnations, do you find yourself composing as solo entities and only once you join up as a four-piece, would you suddenly begin sharing all these ideas? Do you see the compositional approach to pieces such as ‘Fjellvant’ or ‘Ti Mor’ (for example) alter in a drastic way, or would the creative process be a more constant process?

CÓR: I think Fjellvant started with the little few notes I recorded on an iPad during one of the band’s writing days.  We spent a few days in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Monaghan, and would split up into pairs to work on stuff, so myself and Seán pulled Fjellvant out of the bag and he brought his electronics to the party.  When we brought it back to the boys, it already felt like a complete thing unto itself, so that’s how it remains!

SME: We’ve often played short solo sets so we thought let’s see if we can try duo material. Fjellvant (a Norwegian word pertaining to mountain walking) is one of the duos that made the cut. Also, hiking is something that Caoimhín and I really like to do and perhaps not on all of TIHWF’s to do lists! If I were to recast my life I might try being a singing contemporary dancer and sometimes the guys let me sing a tiny bit (I’m not going to bust out any moves with Nic beside me).

The album radiates the sense of a live performance where the band are playing live; sharing the same as the listener. The special, unique live shows of This Is How We Fly is ultimately translated onto the final album. Was this a primary objective for the band? Also, please discuss the aesthetic quality of your work and this space you travel deep inside when it comes to making music together? I love the solo pieces (however short!) that wonderfully bridge various pieces that form majestic interludes throughout (which again, brings you back to the band’s live shows).

CÓR: The audience has always been such an important part of how this band works, and we felt that perhaps we were losing something by going into studio to record.  We wanted to make this record in collaboration with our audience, from the crowd-sourced funding, to having their listening, enthusiasm and energy as part of the air around us as we recorded.

NG: We’ve experimented over the nearly seven years we’ve been performing together about how best to convey the way that live gigs seem so close to the heart of this project. As I mentioned, this has included work with filmmakers, including several collaborations with Myles of Arbutus Yarns and Donal Dineen, but also the creation of performances in unorthodox spaces, most notably a dilapidated Georgian House on North Great George’s Street in Dublin as part of Seán’s ongoing series The Walls Have Ears during the Dublin Fringe. The privilege and power of creating something in the moment, not only in front of an audience, but in response to them is endlessly invigorating for us. In this way, the in-the-round, mostly-acoustic, live format was the perfect avenue for us to try to share our interest in creating music as a practice of rapport.  This rapport is with the audience, with our own bodies, with the tools of our craft (drumsticks, fiddle bow, clarinet keys, dance shoes) and with each other.

PB: Sharing the same thing as the listener. To me, this is probably the only way I can or rather want to play music. I find no greater interest in sharing with a monologue. What’s interesting in a meeting with a listener, is the listener’s contribution back to the musician and the musician’s ability to take in this, do something of it and then share the next phrase with the listener, to hear what this one has to say this time!

The same is true of how we communicate with each other in the band. Just playing a song straight off just like it sounded last time, there are many others who find joy in that. But in the musical context I myself want to find myself in, I prefer to be 100% communicative in each phrase, every breath, every second.

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As solo musicians and composers, you have carved out unique solo paths with your own singular sound and musical identity. Please take me back to your earliest musical memories and the landscape that you feel has shaped and influenced your own individual musical paths? For instance, Nic, you have a really beautiful spoken word piece where you recount your memories of a teacher of yours in Limerick, the lyrics for which are truly inspiring. It is the way each member brings their own colours and rich language to the divine sonic canvas of the overall sound and how each one complements and further heightens one another, this must have taken you by surprise (in some ways) when you first came together and played together?

CÓR: I have so many memories from both listening to and playing traditional music that have shaped what I’m aiming for when I play.  Hearing Tony Mac Mahon stopping time playing ‘James Connolly’ in the Cobalt Cafe; fourteen hours non-stop playing with Dermy Diamond in Queally’s Pub in Miltown Malbay during the Willie Clancy, day after day after day, lit up by the man of the house throwing a step out of the blue; playing ‘The Rolling Wave’ by myself for hours upon hours on a New Year’s Eve, over and over again, until music became magic for the first time…

NG: Thanks! Often as part of our concerts, we each take a moment to allow one another to stretch out, allowing the audience to engage with our sounds individually. The piece “Scraping for Peggy” came out of this little band ritual and is dedicated to legendary Cork Irish dance teacher Peggy McTeggart. She said, “I’ll have no scrapers in our class”.  For her, “good” dance technique was adroit, crisp, and clean, resulting from a short sharp connection to the ground. This became a provocation for me to make whispery, gritty, hushed, or “dirty” sounds by sustaining my contact with the floor. There’s a playful sense of the joy of transgression, of doing what you’re told not to do, that honestly fills my heart with glee every time I get to dance the piece in her memory. For me, the connection to this older dancer and the way that tradition begs as many questions as it provides answers becomes a locus of performance but also of pleasure for me and hopefully for the audience as well.

SME: I’m not sure I have many early musical memories, I was into my teens by the time I got hooked on Bob Dylan and worlds surrounding that, but I don’t think you will hear much of that in my playing. Often the non-musical will inspire me as much as my listening habits. These days all I try to do is get out of my own way and let music flow and the direction I’m moving in is that the music has less and less to do with me than with the moment present, the players present and the people present.

PB: I remember that an early wish I had was the desire to possess the technical skills I have today on my instrument, but at the same time never heard of music of any kind before.

Today, however, I realize that my physical ability at my instrument and how it is intertwined with my wider musical understanding is the essence of what I do.

But to easily summarize how I have received my unique musical signature, I can say that it has arisen from many years of trying to translate Swedish folk music played on violin to same thing, but on drums.

An important question within my work is how central aspects of melody, such as hierarchical form and phrasing, melodic contour, ornamentation, etc. can be represented percussion playing on a drum kit where precise pitch transitions are not possible. Other important questions concern how to capture the rhythmic and metrical flexibility and ambiguity of Swedish traditional fiddle music on an instrument in which the rhythmic expression is precise and explicit.

Please shed some light on the Irish compositions ‘Ti Mor’ and ‘Ri Rua’. Can you recount your memories of the earliest versions of these pieces and how they bloomed over time? ‘Ri Rua’ feels like it could have originated between Sean and Caoimhin whereas ‘Ti Mor’ was a duet between Nic and Petter?

CÓR: Rí Rua was such an enjoyable tune to work on with Seán – trying to find ways of weaving notes, rhythms and phrases together on the two instruments.  I think the earliest version started with Seán’s phrases, and we worked out from there.

NG: Tí Mór began with a particular groove that’s created by a step known in Appalachian dance communities as the Tennessee Walking Step. The step is credited to Robert Dotson and was later modified and used by dancers in the US folk revival of the 1970s and 80s. It’s an insistent, bass-treble movement produced by stepping onto the floor and dropping one’s body weight through the foot (that’s the bass), then sliding backwards on the floor creating a sibilant brighter sound (that’s the treble part). Petter remarked that we rarely access this particular rhythmic pattern in our music and suggested we create something inspired by it. The piece winds up feeling like a track of Electronic Dance Music in which the beats are actually made by dancing!!

Lastly, the sprawling tour-de-force ‘Agus a hAon :: Mumpsimus :: Counterline’ spans the breadth of part B. I love this drifting, floating quality to the piece, how the woodwind dances its majestic dance amidst infinite colours of percussion and soaring fiddles. I get the impression this piece must have taken a considerable time to flesh out, so to speak and write the distinct movements inherent in this piece of music? Some of these melodies on the record sound at once wholly familiar and utterly unknown; perhaps one foot is steeped in tradition and the other is searching deep into new, unknown horizons.

CÓR: Yeah, I really love these three tunes! The second part of the first tune is really satisfying to me in its simple confusion. Mumpsimus is a waltz that initally made perfect sense to me but to no one else, hence the name, which means ‘a person who obstinately adheres to an idea in spite of evidence that they are wrong or unreasonable’.  And Counterline always feels SO good to play, again it’s very satisfying to me how the various parts interlock.

SME: There’s a mixture here of tightly written material and quite loose improvisation which feels nice, one moment we are in unison and then the atmosphere loosens and, as a player, you are free to contribute whatever feels just right for the piece. I know what you mean about the familiar sounding melodies, sometimes I wonder when we are writing, hey, surely someone has written this melody already, it’s so… simple! It’s hard to be objective but I haven’t heard anyone else playing them yet so I think we are in clear!

Your musical philosophy as a quartet. Can you somehow pinpoint what this is? Also, what you feel you have learned as a group over the past six (or so) years and what you feel comes next for the band, as you continually develop and evolve?

NG: I think Petter summed this up beautifully once during an interview we were giving at a French folk festival. He said, “You don’t need to practice to talk with your friends.” While we do of course see the value in rehearsal, the idea of being open to conversation in music-making – and being open to that conversation taking a radically different turn in performance than when you had it earlier in rehearsal, feels really crucial to this project. We want our performances to be very much about responding to one another and to audiences, wherever they (and we!) are affectually. As for what’s next: deeper rapport, perhaps an exploration of “home-ness” as opposed to the wonder and amazement of the “foreign fields.”  And maybe even an entire dance step-based EDM release!

SME: Yes, the essential philosophy would revolve around ideas of togetherness. Being together and listening. It may sound odd but listening is more important to us than even playing and there have been occasions where, on stage, each musicians stops playing but continues listening and we continue the piece without there being any piece left! In the seven years I hope we’ve learnt more about each other and, through that, ourselves. I think we are all pretty happy to continue as we started off with an openness to explore and push and learn and what that will sound like just depends on whichever moment you hear us.

PB: A dream I’ve been wearing for a very long time and which has become true with TIHWF is the fact that there’s no difference at all to just being together and playing music together.

‘Foreign Fields’ is available NOW.

http://www.thisishowwefly.net/

https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsHowWeFly/

 

 

 

 

Written by admin

October 12, 2017 at 12:23 pm

First Listen: Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Garth Knox – “Tasseography” (Diatribe Records)

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We’re delighted to preview “Tasseography”, a track by world-renowned musicians Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (Ireland) and Garth Knox (Ireland-Scotland). The composition is from the forthcoming collaborative full-length album “All Soundings Are True” by Ó Raghallaigh and Knox which is due for release on July 1st 2017 via prominent Ireland-based label Diatribe Records.

The nine compositions on “All Soundings Are True” (featuring a trio of traditional compositions, the remaining pieces are penned by Ó Raghallaigh and Knox) provides an unforgettable listening experience as both composers (both collaborators in the truest sense) clearly revel in each other’s presence and playing. Having met while Ó Raghallaigh was at a residency at the Irish Cultural Center, Paris, the pair’s own deep-rooted love and appreciation for their own chosen instruments – Ó Raghallaigh’s hardinger d’Amore fiddle and Knox’s viola d’Amore – provides the glorious opportunity to plough new sonic terrain while pushing the duo’s own distinctive sound palettes into wondrously open spaces and uncharted territories in the process.

Award-winning fiddle player and composer Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh has performed extensively as both a solo musician, in duos with Dan Trueman, Mick O’Brien and Brendan Begley, and as a member of both The Gloaming and This is How we Fly. Ó Raghallaigh is based in Dublin, Ireland.

Classical viola player and composer Garth Knox is most known as viola player of the Arditti Quartet and the Ensemble intercontemporain and has performed works by some of the world’s leading 21st Century composers such as The Kronos Quartet and David Lang. Knox has recorded extensively for the prestigious ECM label (featuring both solo and collaborative works) and plays viola, viola d’amore and medieval fiddle. Knox is based in Paris, France.

 

 

“All Soundings Are True” by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Garth Knox will be released on 1st July via Diatribe Records, the launch gig for “All Soundings Are True” takes place on June 17th (with Ensemble Ériu) at The Complex Dublin. 

Event Page for launch gig HERE.

Pre-order LP via Diatribe Records HERE.

https://caoimhinoraghallaigh.com/
http://www.garthknox.org/

Written by admin

June 7, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Don’t Look Back: 2016

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“Don’t Look Back” is our look back on the year from the perspective of both musicians as well as various members of the music community at large, who — despite varying geographical locations and backgrounds — all share the following in common: a deep passion and love for music. We’re both honored and delighted to be able to share the words of these special people through their personal accounts of the year that was: 2016. 

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André de Ridder (Berlin, Germany)

Co-founded by German conductor André de Ridder, s t a r g a z e is the the world-renowned Berlin-based contemporary classical music collective. Established in 2013, s t a r g a z e comprise a network of classically trained European musicians who have performed and collaborated extensively in a wide variety of contexts to date. s t a r g a z e have worked with some of the most accomplished and inspiring musicians working today, including: Boards Of Canada, Nils Frahm, Deerhoof, Julia Holter, A Hawk And A Hacksaw, Poliça and Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and have performed at some of the most renowned festivals and venues in the world (BBC Proms at The Royal Albert Hall; The Barbican, London; Rewire Festival and Motel Mozaïque, Netherlands). André de Ridder is also Artistic Director of the 2017 edition of Musical Nova Helsinki (1-12 February 2017) and will curate next year’s East London-based Spitalfields Music Winter Festival 2017.

“People”
by André de Ridder

“Whenever we hear sounds we are changed and this is the more the case when we hear organised sounds, organised by another human being. Music.” —Karlheinz Stockhausen

How many tributes can you take… well… make?

As Amanda Palmer, whose joint EP in memory of David Bowie (arr. Jherek Bischoff) ‘Strung Out In Heaven’ started the ball rolling in February, said later this year: “HELLO! You know, I write songs, too”.

Mind you it’s not only about songs of recently deceased iconic artists, the Rolling Stones just released an album of old Blues classics, and Amanda Palmer herself, again, an album of songs her dad used to teach her as a child. The musicians in The National put together a massive and magnificent 11-vinyl tribute album to The Grateful Dead earlier in 2016, inviting a whole army of friends and bands and singers and ensembles to contribute, including stargaze, the orchestral collective I co-founded in 2013.

We revisit Bob Dylan’s catalogue and oeuvre all the time but especially lately via the hassle around his nobel prize, awarded to a songwriter for the first time. And last but not least maybe the greatest of all poet-songwriters of the last half-century, Leonard Cohen, also disappears from the face of the earth. The appreciation of the art of song, and the life-affirming, life-accompanying and -experiencing power of this form of human expression, seems to undergo an intense iteration, and has certainly pervaded my musical 2016.

From a classical musician’s point of view, we of course deal with and revisit and interpret songs of ‘other’ people, and long deceased composers all the time. It’s inherently ‘lit’ to indulge singing and playing other people’s music. The principle of ‘classical music’ reception and performance practice is in fact entirely built on that situation.

Whereas in pop/folk/rock the auteur’s personality is mostly just so connected to the song and it’s subject, most people cannot deal with the abstraction a so-called cover by another artist brings with it. The identification process is fuelled almost more through the artist’s personality than the song itself.

Mind you, in Jazz and Folk music it is also very common to express facets of the material picking traditional or classic songs and tunes, celebrating what riches lay in a given musical text. They therefore build starting points for many a journey beyond one singular manifestation.

The question in how far the written song can transcend and surpass it’s origin and it’s author is one that I asked myself often this year when faced with certain choices.

Why shouldn’t we sing/use/interpret songs of Bowie’s or Prince, in the way we do with a gorgeous and utterly moving Schumann song? What needs to happen in order to justify it? Or do Bowie’s songs lend themselves to this ‘treatment’ more than Prince’s? Whose songs are possibly more timeless or transcend the question of authorship and personality, will either songs survive in books/notation just as much as through original recordings? I will zoom into two occasions this last year, where I found myself in the midst of such situations and experienced certain answers, for that moment anyway, to those questions. One that came with a fair amount of planning/curation, deliberation and even agony (in the case of stargaze’s Bowie tribute concert at the BBC Proms this last July) and one of spontaneous, unexpected and intuitive beauty, performed with Poliça in Minneapolis in November, the city of Prince.

SAMSUNG CSCs t a r g a z e  rehearsing with John Cale for the 2016 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London, 29 July 2016.

When we prepared the Bowie concert, and Prince had just died as well, I already anticipated people saying: “Oh are you gonna do Prince next?”. Actually somebody around the Prom asked couldn’t we do a Prince song as an encore. No we couldn’t and wouldn’t. Everyone agreed. I heard myself saying in interviews that the same thing (that we attempted with Bowie) wouldn’t work with Prince (a few reasons, mainly that Prince was kind of always ‘Prince’ whereas Bowie throughout his career was a chameleon himself always slipping from one role into another, himself not being always ‘Bowie’ when writing and performing songs).

This sentiment was crushed to a good extent when I took s t a r g a z e to Minneapolis this November, shortly after the American elections, for a project initiated by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series. It had been planned for more than a year, independent of any current circumstances. It involved creating and playing new music with Poliça, who also stem from the Twin Cities. Their member and producer/composer Ryan Olson had been suggesting the idea of taking on a Prince song from his ‘1999’ album, called ‘Something In The Water’, after I  brought up the ultra-short, but beautifully orchestrated ‘I Wonder U’ from my favourite Prince album ‘Parade’, as a possible mini-tribute to playing in their city. The transcription of ‘I Wonder U’ was fairly straightforward, and our dear friend Greg Saunier of Deerhoof helped us with it, once again (and still I wasn’t sure if it made ‘sense’ to play it).

But until the day before the show at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul, we didn’t touch (and I maybe didn’t quite believe in, for reasons mentioned above) the other, i.e. another Prince song. However, that morning, before leaving for our last rehearsal I did have a go at penning down a simple orchestration of ‘Something In The Water’, which is originally synth heavy, though maybe suggests a strings-based treatment. The idea was that there was only the drum beat plus stargaze’s harmonies and sparsely orchestrated lines, no electronics or anything else, plus Channy Lenneagh picking up the vocals obviously. We played it through, not especially hopeful as it was so late in the process, literally in the last 5 minutes of our practise and realized we were onto something. Ryan more so than anyone else and he added another, genius tweak: he asked us to play it again, but by about 20bpm slower… It made for an overwhelming poignancy, in which the lonely drum intro sounded even more spacious, the slow drifting harmonies even darker in a viol-consort kind of renaissance-style with our two violas and two violins present, and Channy pitched and harmonized her vocals in an otherwordly effect and manner that made the song into something quite new, but one that Prince  seemed to quite literally speak thru from a far away, solitary but soulful place.

Transformed. After we finished that run-through Ryan stumbled backwards a little behind his mute laptop and made a hand gesture that signaled something like: “no words…” and nobody said anything but packed up their instruments letting the hairs stand on no end.

Of course this was all heightened by what just happened, a few days prior to that joint concert, at the polls. When we arrived, the band members and curators of Liquid Music, our hosts, were very visibly and moodily affected by the outcome and the outlook of Trump’s presidential election.

Months ago we had christened the project ‘Music For The Long Emergency’ and we had discussed something of the power of music (and the act making music together) that can unite people, provide hope and respite, but also a certain energy for a way forward, survival, and finding strength in and amongst ourselves.

SAMSUNG CSCs t a r g a z e  performing at the 2016 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London, 29 July 2016.

The word ‘People’ had come into focus at another memorable gathering and event in the run-up to the elections, a special, one-of-a-kind (maybe once-in-a-lifetime) music festival facilitated in Berlin by the Michelberger Hotel and it’s community, and which we co-curated at the end of September with stargaze, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Justin Vernon, Ryan Olson and Vincent Moon on the premises of the former central GDR radio station, the ‘Funkhaus Nalepastrasse’, a heritage-listed building loaded with cold-war history. A non-profit, sponsor-less festival bringing together 80+ artists to create new music and collaborate without borders, programmatically mixed and presented in the end without any notions of rankings, standing and rid of ego-centred behaviour that is common in the non-classical scene just as much as it is in classical music. This place had provided us with the opportunity to develop our project with Poliça also, and when looking for a festival name, no name came about or rang true, no ‘branding’ required, but a motto emerged thru the artist Eric Carlson that would just read, inclusive and embracing, ‘People’, displayed on a huge banner/mural in the main hall of the location.

I think most musicians and supporters who have taken part in this felt that it was central to their musical and human experience in 2016, and felt empowered and recharged artistically from it, in that it reclaimed a certain space of a festival as a gathering, back to the roots of this quintessential idea, a kind of 21st century version of “around the campfire” but in lieu of the campfire a certain spirit and special place.

Music made in the moment and created for the ONE moment.

Nevertheless, it was and will be documented bit by bit on a newly created website and also radio station that one can keep up-to-date with on Michelbergermusic.com soon, if anyone is interested.

It seemed app therefore that we came back to a song by Bowie there and then, which we performed once again, this time on the stage of the newly created ‘shed-hall’ in the Funkhaus Nalepastrasse, on the last night of the festival which meanwhile we had dubbed ‘endless, nameless’, and the song was ‘Heroes’. Indeed in Berlin David Bowie had sung this song in front of the Reichstag in 1987, and by the Berlin Wall, where people gathered on both sides, and clearly he addressed ‘the people’ as equal (potential) heroes, and the ones on the other side of the Wall, most and foremost, in his moving rendition. It was a concert I had attended, actually my first open-air rock concert proper as a music-obsessed teen, not having the slightest inkling about what was going to unfurl two years later, a peaceful revolution that was set to overturn the regime and break through that wall, thanks to which we and folks from all over the place were able to be in that place on October 2nd 2016 and reclaim that space.

Brings me back to the 29th of July 2016, the day we performed the Bowie Prom at The Royal Albert Hall in London. Over a period of 3 months I had wondered, and we had wondered, who are we to be in this position, playing Bowie’s music, even attempting to re-imagine some songs in a different format/style, what right, justification etc. etc. was there.

But really, I felt it on that night, by having immersed ourselves so completely in his work, and by sharing this with many artists who had long-lived with his songs and celebrating this passion by putting so much effort in showing what these songs meant to all of us, made us connect with the man and his spirit, it became humblingly palpable on the night, as the ensemble was poised and focusing, breathing in out on stage for a good two minutes while waiting for the green light from the tv people, in the midst of the general anticipation, before launching into Bowie’s Brian Eno collaboration ‘Warszawa’, with a field recording of a train pulling out of Berlin-Schöneberg station which we had recorded two weeks prior. Our ‘audience’ with David Bowie had finally started. And at the end of the show, almost by accident another magic thing happened: Until the very end of rehearsals we had toyed with the idea of after all giving the crowd his arguably biggest hit, ‘Let’s Dance’. To the point where we had no time to ask anyone to sing it, which meant we had rehearsed it instrumentally only and at the end of the show, as all the singers paraded off stage, we launched into it as an encore, and gave it back to the people who roar-sang it back at us thousand-fold from beginning to end, not missing a word or a note.

Other favourite moments of that concert include classical counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky singing David Lang’s recomposition of ‘Always Crashing In The Same Car’, epic arrangements of Blackstar and Lady Grinning Soul by Jherek Bischoff, presented with fierce intensity by Amanda Palmer and Anna Calvi, and Laura Mvula’s rendering of ‘Fame’ via Greg Saunier’s orchestration. Last not least rocking out with John Cale on his utterly idiosyncratic rendition of ‘Space Odyssey’, transformed together with the inimitable House Gospel Choir. I think these were all moments where another piece of art had been made, through collaboration, inspired by Bowie’s original song. And there you have it, the ‘justification’, the ‘why did we do it’, if it needed it.

SAMSUNG CSCThe Flaming Lips performing “The Soft Bulletin” w/ The Colorado Symphony & Chorus, conducted by André de Ridder. Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 26 May 2016.

I don’t want to close the ‘musical year 2016’ lookback without mentioning another highlight, a project that may not have been noticed in Europe so much but I hope will make it here soon.

Something I had worked on and dreamed up for a while: persuading the Flaming Lips to perform their album ‘The Soft Bulletin’ with a symphony orchestra (and choir). This became reality last May with the help of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, at the legendary Red Rocks Theatre.

It had struck me, ever since watching an intriguing Pitchfork documentary about the making of the album, since it had been created with so many orchestral, albeit sampled, layers originally, that it would make so much sense to try and recreate it with an actual orchestra. Which had not been done until now. It came together on a rather stormy night in the most spectacular open-air venue I have ever seen in my life, Red Rocks, the sense of being there in the first place almost overwhelming the occasion. It was also a pleasure and honour working with the band, the Flaming Lips being a wonderful and enthusiastic group of musicians lapping up the opportunity with gusto and passion themselves. Over the years they had perfected playing songs from the Soft Bulletin with keyboards and synths, and during rehearsals they gradually, like archeologists, removed those plasters to reveal the original orchestral sounds behind it.

Amongst the festivals and concerts I attended I need to mention, once again, is Iceland Airwaves, which took place at the beginning of November. In a way, it is another ‘people’ event, where the town of Reykjavík transforms itself into one large venue for 5 days, bands playing literally every other café, barber, petshop, you name it, along it’s main drags up and down town during the day before relocating to the ‘official’ theatres and halls. On those days, you’ll never see more people around with guitars on their backs, instrument cases in one hand and trolleys drawn behind them with the other.

I was conducting part of a sprawling Bedroom Community 10-year anniversary night at Harpa (another already iconic, if very new, concert space) which included great orchestral music by Daníel Bjarnasson, Nico Muhly, Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurðsson but I caught a wonderful series of gigs when accidentally meeting and hearing the Barr Brothers (just Andrew and Brad, filling in for stranded label colleagues at the 12-Tónar record store), catching Kate Tempest close-up at a hostel, then Warpaint playing much of their new album back at Harpa, first time I saw them live after being a fan for a while. Three acts who couldn’t be more different, and every single one of them so brilliant and original. Which is why going to festivals is such a gratifying experience, and it seems to be an age where new festivals are still being created all the time, other ones going stronger than ever, and with imaginative and inventive features in no short supply. They are worlds created unto themselves, and I cannot wait to discover new ones next year, or return to familiar places which we trust and feel welcomed as both audience and artists. And people.

André de Ridder’s orchestral collective, s t a r g a z e, perform at the Musica Nova Festival Helsinki in February 2017, where they will perform Boards Of Canada’s “HI Scores” EP as well as new compostions written by Dawn Of Midi (Erased Tapes)’s drummer Qasim Naqvi (all info HERE).

http://we-are-stargaze.com/
https://twitter.com/andrederidder

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Oliver Coates (London, UK)

Several ground-breaking records from 2016 can be attributed to the gifted talents of British cellist and composer Oliver Coates. The London-based composer’s sophomore full-length release ‘Upstepping’ is undoubtedly one of the year’s most accomplished, innovative and compelling musical journeys with its meticulously crafted and sumptuously layered cello-based compositions that carves out techno-fueled waves of pure bliss and transcendence. ‘Upstepping’ is indeed (in the words of Coates) “pumped-up body music”. In addition to ‘Upstepping’, Coates performed on Radiohead’s latest ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ LP and most recently, released a collaborative work with UK’s Mica Levi (Micachu & The Shapes) in the form of ‘Remain Calm’, another crowning jewel of 2016.

Oliver Coates – ‘Don’t Look Back’

In 2016 I came off social media and felt better for it. More time and space for music, love and colouring in. Got a cat, moved into our formerly flooded flat. Got a fresh perspective on London, my birth-town, now living in SE1. Through music I do feel connected to being a Londoner and being from the UK. I went deeper into Autechre’s music, new and old, Aphex’s Cheetah which took me back into the Analord Series and the Caustic Window music.

I met for the first time and made music with these artists: Actress, Elysia Crampton, Catherine Lamb, Dean Blunt, and lastly Pauline Oliveros. I programmed a festival in Westminster in June where Pauline was our featured guest and we heard her acoustic, electronic, instrumental and choral music across three days, alongside music by Ed Finnis, Éliane Radigue, Laurie Spiegel and others. Oliveros spoke to people about a need for unity – it was the weekend after a political vote and there was shell-shock amongst some of the large audience, who had infinite reservoirs for listening to microtonal music. The 15-minute mass tuning meditation took us away. I saw Pauline again in the week before she died – she gave a cleansing coruscating digital accordion set at Le Guess Who and afterwards she was spritely and said to me in the corridor “Let’s do more.”

She had enjoyed our reconstruction of Daphne Oram’s orchestral piece Still Point from the 1940s (by Shiva Feshareki and James Bulley). It sounded like opulent pastoral music and a symphonic tone poem with a smearing of warped electronic sound laid over the top. Oddly English though indebted to Stockhausen’s sounds. Yet Daphne conceived of them first – this was the 1940s. The future in reverse.

—Oliver Coates

“Upstepping” is out now on PRAH Recordings & “Remain Calm” by Mica Levi & Oliver Coates is out now on Slip Discs.

http://www.olivercoates.com/
https://www.facebook.com/olivercoatesmusician/

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Peter Broderick (Galway, IRE / Portland, Oregon, USA)

Born in Portland, Oregon, Peter Broderick’s name has been firmly established as one of the most singular voices and prolific musicians in the independent music scene for well over a decade now. The multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer has released a plethora of records since his first self-released 4-track recordings from 2005/6, for such labels as Erased Tapes, Bella Union, Type, Kning Disk, Digitalis and Beacon Sound. Collaboration has always been a vital component of Broderick’s artistic output, having performed in both Horse Feathers and Efterklang, and making records (whether as producer or composer) with such artists as: Nils Frahm, Lubomyr Melnyk, Greg Haines, Felicia Atkinson, Laura Gibson, Brigid Mae Power and Corrina Repp. 2016 saw the release of Broderick’s seventh solo LP, the majestic piano-based full-length “Partners” and the EP “Grunewald” (comprising 5 tracks of live piano recordings made at Berlin’s Grunewald Church while Broderick resided in the German capital) via Erased Tapes. 

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2016 was a wild ride. For starters, I got married! And I moved to Ireland! So now I’m a husband and step-dad living in the beautiful countryside of County Galway. Our address doesn’t even contain any numbers . . . just the name of the house, the name of the area, and the name of the county. And there’s a stray cat whom I’ve named Yin-Yang, who loves to eat the food I put out and even comes into the house for a nap, but still won’t let me pet him. And there’s a couple white horses who roam freely outside our door, and they like eating apples and carrots out of my hand, but also won’t let me pet them. And sometimes there are some cows that graze in nearby field, and once I did manage to pet one of them for a minute, but for the most part they don’t like to come too close.

According to google I am a musician . . . but this year I turned into a full-time plant lover. I have spent so much time reading books about plants and taking walks in the nature, trying to befriend as many green wonders as I can. One of my personal highlights of the year (aside from getting married!) was attending a workshop up in County Leitrim in which we spent the whole day outside learning to identify wild edible and medicinal plants. And though I’m still a complete novice, I can’t deny how fulfilled my soul feels when I spend the day outside gathering plants, honoring them as best I can in the process (which often involves singing them a little song), and later preparing them as food or drying them to make herbal teas.

Of course, I did make plenty of music this year. In February I recorded my first piano-based album in quite some time, which was released in August under the title Partners. And in early December Erased Tapes (lovely record label!) also reissued some older recordings on an EP called Grunewald. This Autumn I played 23 concerts in 8 different countries (including my first trip to Taiwan!) with just my voice and a piano, which was quite refreshing after all the years I’ve spent carrying around heaps of gear, albeit a bit challenging and naked feeling at the start.

We spent the Summer in Oregon, and whilst there for a couple months I got the chance to work on a wonderful project with David Allred, in which he just plays upright bass and sings, and I just play violin and sing. I am looking forward to releasing our duo album in Spring 2017 and playing some concerts together around that time.

I think the biggest musical discovery for me this year was getting into Joni Mitchell. For years whenever I heard that name and even when I heard her music, it would go in one ear and out the other. But something happened this year and I felt something inside go click! It started with her album Clouds, which we listened to countless times on cassette in the car. That record is perhaps the most similar to other music that I already appreciated . . . but then, from there I moved on to her other records, and sometimes I admit it’s a challenge at first, but oh so rewarding if you just take the time to soak it in. What a beautiful and courageous soul!

I can’t say I picked up much new music this year, but I did find four records on the shelf which were released this year and have a special meaning to me:

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David Allred – Woods (Oscarson)

– Not only has David been a good friend and frequent collaborator of mine over the last few years, but he’s also been one of my favorite artists to follow. For me his music and creativity feel very unique. Sometimes when you get to know someone well, the mystique of their creativity disappears a bit . . . but with David I have had the complete opposite. My heart is continually warmed by his earnest efforts. He plays a large variety of instruments very beautifully, and his own lyrics have an almost unbelievably honest quality to them, as if he has direct access to some strange and deep thoughts that most of us are only dimly aware of.

Félicia Atkinson + Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – Comme Un Seul Narcisse (Shelter Press)

– This is a peculiar and oddly beautiful record by two of my favorite weirdos. I’ve followed Jefre’s work since I was a teenager and he played in the band Tarentel, and Félicia is another artist who continually opens my eyes to the wonders of the Universe. When I heard the two of them had made an album together, I knew immediately that it would be an interesting listen.

Michael Hurley – Bad Mr. Mike (Mississippi Records)

– Seeing that Michael Hurley is well into his 70’s now, I was thrilled when I found out he had released a new album this year. And with a title like Bad Mr. Mike, how could it not be wonderful? His records are always adorned with his unmistakable artwork and made up characters, and his records (especially the later ones) have a way of making you feel like you’re sitting in his living room while he plays to no one in particular in the corner. And what an honor it was for me to go to his home and meet him early in the year! I had heard he was a collector of vintage radios, and I had a beautiful old radio from the 1920’s just sitting in the garage, collecting dust. So I reached out to him and asked if he might like to have it, and sure enough, a few weeks later there I was driving out to his countryside home and delivering the thing. Turns out he’s a member of vintage radio society, consisting most of “old geezers” as he put it. When he first saw the old radio he said, “This is going to cause a wave of excitement!”

Richard Proffitt – Pathways Written In Smoke (Stadt Moers)

I was very fortunate to have an ongoing artist residency at the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, Ireland, throughout 2016. I went there on three separate occasions to stay and work on music (and did some painting too!). And during one of those stays there was an exhibition in one of the gallery rooms by a guy from Liverpool (who now lives in Dublin) called Richard Proffitt. This collection of artwork/sculpture/installation made quite an impression on me, with it’s ritualistic, not-afraid-of-the-dark kind of feeling, and I really enjoyed meeting Richard himself as well. This record was available as a part of the exhibition in a limited edition of 30 (!), and I’m very happy to say that I have one of those 30 copies. I highly recommend experiencing one of his exhibitions, or even just finding his recordings of music and spoken word on bandcamp.

In addition, there are a number of records released in 2016 which I either recorded at my old studio The Sparkle or had a decent part in the making of in one way or another. These records I am honored to be a part of:

Brigid Mae Power – S/T (Tompkins Square)

MayMay – Mountains Hills Plateaus And Plains (Oscarson)

The Beacon Sound Choir – Sunday Morning Drones (Infinite Greyscale)

Laura Gibson – Empire Builder (Barsuk)

Rauelsson – Ekõ (Beacon Sound)

V/A – Oscarsongs (Oscarson)

 

—Peter Broderick

“Partners” (LP) and “Grunewald” (EP) by Peter Broderick are available now on Erased Tapes.

http://www.peterbroderick.net/
http://www.erasedtapes.com/

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Josh Rosenthal (San Francisco, USA)

The Tompkins Square label founder and Grammy-nominated producer Josh Rosenthal published his first book “The Record Store of the Mind” during 2016, a personal musical odyssey documenting Rosenthal’s lifelong passion for music, as both an avid collector and obsessive listener. During 2015, Rosenthal’s world-renowned label Tompkins Square (based in San Francisco, USA) celebrated it’s ten year anniversary, having released records for such artists as William Tyler, Michael Chapman, Ryley Walker, Hiss Golden Messenger and James Blackshaw over the years, as well as re-issuing an extensive range of folk, old-time, gospel and American Primitive Guitar albums, including its ongoing “Imaginational Anthem” records,  the acclaimed series focusing on acoustic guitar, particularly in the American Primitive vein.

2016
by Josh Rosenthal – Tompkins Square label

The people in my small universe – musical artists and creatives around them – seem to have values 180 degrees from where our Nation appears headed. What will creative people do in the face of this instability ? If anything, the election energized me. I feel emboldened to do more, put out more records that Drumpf and his kind would hate, or at least not get. And maybe give folks some small respite from the endless barrage of awful news. Kind of an extension of Leonard Bernstein’s quote : “This will be our response to violence : To make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly, than ever before.” Which isn’t to say we can just stop there. I am writing checks to the Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center, Marine Mammal Center, the Sierra Club, Doctors Without Borders.

2016 saw the loss of David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Ralph Stanley, Mose Allison and Merle Haggard. The outpouring of grief for Prince and Bowie was huge, but I didn’t partake viscerally because I never identified with their music that much. Leonard Cohen’s death was heavier for me, as he was the most overtly Jewish rock star we’ve ever had in terms of reflecting the faith in his music, and his first two records are holy texts unto themselves. Leonard felt like extended family. With these musical losses, and inevitably, so many more to come, I reflected on rock star death. It’s irksome when people react to rock death on social media with “Fuck You 2016 !” There must be a more graceful way to express grief. The difference between us mortals and our musical heroes is that they get to live forever. That’s something to celebrate – not something to go cursing the whole Year about…

I spent all of March and April on the road promoting my book, “The Record Store of the Mind”. I did about 40 readings around the USA, with help from some musical guests, at the kind invitation of many independent book and record dealers. I never really expected anything to happen with the book, but folks reacted to it, and as I like to say, if I knew people were gonna care, I would’ve written a better book. But it was good enough to get Robert Plant to offer an effusive endorsement, and UNCUT named it one of the 10 Best Music Books of 2016. My first reading was in Jersey City in October 2015, and I learned a valuable lesson : Never schedule a reading before your book is actually out, because no one will show up. Writer Amanda Petrusich agreed to Q&A me there, and she was such a good sport in front of my four friends who showed up, plus the store manager. A very strange thing happened earlier that day — I walked into a local vinyl store with WFMU’s Joe McGasko and they were playing Ron Davies’ rare LP ‘UFO’. Ron Davies is the subject of Chapter 1 in my book ! I’d never heard Ron Davies in any record store, and I’ve never seen his albums in the wild. How weird is that ? Things got a lot better on the book trail in March and April, highlighted by ace stops in Richmond, VA at Steady Sounds (w/ Mark Fosson & Diane Cluck), Rocket 99 in Kingston, NY (w/Peter Walker), and many others.

v2016 was a crazy year for acquiring records. I was driving up 6th Street in SF and my vinyl radar spotted a box on the sidewalk. I pulled over and started flipping – John Coltrane on Impulse, Wire ‘154’, Indian classical records, rare Contemporary Classical LPs. “OK, take the box and get out of here.” Threw it in the car. Took me about a month to get through that box, it was so deep. Then a friend who was moving house had me over for first dibs on a life-long collection of ambient, prog, Krautrock, experimental, K. Leimer, La Monte Young, Robert Wyatt, Roedelius, Eno, Cluster. Then my friend in LA let me have at her grandfather’s jazz collection. OG Mingus, Coltrane, Ornette, Miles. It was nuts. I found a Baby Huey LP at the flea market for $3 – but it had no record inside. So I went on discogs and sure enough, someone was selling the record without the jacket for $15 ! Not bad.

It was fun to watch my older (15 yo) daughter’s musical horizons expand this year, as she discovered her own favorites on Spotify like Andy Schauf, Joywave and High Highs while happily adding Dad’s suggestions to her playlists ; The Clean, The Smiths, Tia Blake. I took my girls on a wild musical road trip all over the South in June, which I wrote about here.

On the Tompkins Square label front, it was hugely gratifying to reissue two Richie Havens-produced early 70’s solo albums by singer/songwriter Bob Brown; bring out Brigid Mae Power (thanks to Mark Carry and Fractured Air who tipped me to her !) ; ‘Imaginational Anthem vol 8: The Private Press’, compiled by Brooks Rice and former Other Music LP buyer Michael Klausman, turned me on to some fantastic solo guitar I’d never heard ; Harvey Mandel, whose music I have loved for years, holed up in Fantasy Studios with Ryley Walker’s band and made magic. Just some of the highlights and more to come in 2017, when I’m slated to release a record a month, starting in January with Robbie Basho protegé Richard Osborn’s LP, ‘Endless’. Stay up on what I do !

Some of my favorite records from 2016 :

The most important record for me this year was by Daniel Schmidt and the Berkeley Gamelan, “In My Arms, Many Flowers”, on Recital. An American Gamelan composer who teaches at Mills College these days, these recordings are from 1978-1982. A stunning discovery from Sean McCann’s label.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V83cDrMfJug
http://www.recitalprogram.com/in-my-arms-many-flowers/

Australians Andras Fox (aka Andrew Wilson) and Eleventeen Eston (aka John Tanner) are Wilson Tanner, and their album ‘69’ came out on the promising Growing Bin label out of Germany.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5L0HKds8z0&app=desktop

Another label doing great work is RVNG. I mentioned the dude whose record collection I raided – he had a K. Leimer record, ‘Land of Look Behind’, and I really got into that. I had already purchased RVNG’s Syrinx reissue, ‘Tumblers From The Vault’, and then looked on the RVNG site, only to find that they had released a 2-disc K. Leimer set too ! These are both worth seeking out. Syrinx were a Canadian collective on the True North label run by Bernie Finkelstein, who has managed Bruce Cockburn forever. I know him, so he gave me some great Syrinx insights. Had to go and seek out the original Syrinx vinyl LPs of course.
https://igetrvng.com/shop/rervng08/

I dig what Dying For Bad Music has done with their limited-run CDRs, especially the Abraham Chapman solo guitar release, ‘Nothing To Leave Behind’. The reel-to-reel tapes, recorded in 1978, were found at a flea market. No one knows anything about Abraham Chapman. DFBM made a limited run of 82 CDRs and it looks like there are some left :
http://dyingforbadmusic.com/dfbm029-abraham-chapman-nothing-to-leave-behind.phtml

I really enjoyed Charlie Hilton’s January 2016 release, Palana, via Captured Tracks. I missed her when she played the Warfield in SF. I like her somnambulant, Francoise Hardy vibe. I don’t see a single media outlet picking this record as one of the years’ best. Maybe cuz it came out in January ?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzGRXlL5-3k

Onward !

Josh Rosenthal
Tompkins Square
tompkinssquare.com
Tompkins Square “Year In Review” via Spotify

“The Record Store Of The Mind” by Josh Rosenthal, published by Tompkins Square Books is available now.

http://www.therecordstoreofthemind.com/
tompkinssquare.com

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Benoît Pioulard (Seattle, Washington, USA)

2016 marked the tenth anniversary of Benoît Pioulard’s prized debut LP ‘Précis’, an album that is synonymous with the spirit and wonder of independent music at its very finest. Currently based in Seattle, Washington, Thomas Meluch has quietly amassed a considerable body of work in the intervening years: solo works for the prestigious Chicago-based Kranky label as well as numerous self-released works, music with Canadian composer Kyle Bobby Dunn under the alias PERILS (Desire Path Recordings), Meluch’s collaboration with Rafael Anton Irisarri (The Sight Below) as ORCAS (Morr Music) and “Praveen and Benoît”, the collaborative work with Praveen Sharma (Music Related). October 2016 marked the release of “The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter”, the sixth album by Benoît Pioulard for Kranky.

This year, more than any other in my life, was predicated on a contrast between life and death ; mostly trying to live with fulfillment and peace as a slap to the face of the infinite, something like that.  Culturally we lost so many great voices and heroes (John Glenn, Buchla, Pauline Oliveros, Bowie and the other obvious ones) and one could say a lot about the end of truth & reason politically, but on a personal level I was gut-punched by the sudden death of my only brother back in March, three days before I was set to head out on a 5-week North American tour.

My first thought was, “I have to cancel everything and go home,” but after talking with some very close friends & family it occurred to me that the best way to deal with the shock, sadness and confusion might be to push forward in doing the only thing that truly matters to me in this world, and play some dumb songs for people.  Surely enough, the ensuing month (minus the weekend of my brother’s memorial service) was just what I had hoped — an escape from familiarity and routine, an extended meditation on the American landscape, and a chance to make some noise for a lot of lovely strangers as a means of catharsis.

My brother had always said he wanted to tag along for a week on the road with me, so I was pleased to get a small parcel of his ashes, which rode the rest of the way from Michigan out to New York, down through the southwest and back to Seattle with me.  Now he stays on my desk, near to where I do all my rehearsing and recording, and sometimes I talk to him but so far he hasn’t said anything back.  Our mother has been feeling his presence a lot lately though I can’t claim the same ; being from the same parents, though, I reckon that’s because we are each other in so many ways, and there is no difference between us, no “other” to be sensed.  I dedicated my new record to him, because it’s about getting over bad habits (we have both had our share) and I finished it the day before he died, the fact of which seems like some kind of cosmic exclamation point to me.

I have typically been pretty down about changing the calendar to a new year, even though I understand entropy, that time is an arrow and we merely impose these measurements — but at least symbolically I have never been more excited to say “farewell” to a year as I am right now.  Learn and grow and fight the good fight and so on…

“The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter” is available now on Kranky.

pioulard.com
pioulard.bandcamp.com

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Eluvium (Portland, Oregon, USA)

Eluvium is the alias for the Portland, Oregon-based artist and renowned experimental composer Matthew Cooper. Born in Tennessee and raised in Louisville, KY, Matthew Cooper relocated to Portland, OR several years back and has since been amassing a soul-stirring body of work under his “Eluvium” guise. 2016 saw the release of his latest opus “False Readings On” (released via the Temporary Residence label), the album’s genesis was originally inspired by themes of cognitive dissonance in modern society. Cooper also makes music as Inventions, a collaborative project which features Cooper and Mark T. Smith of Texas-based post-rock band Explosions In The Sky.

I did not like this year. I had a great many issues with this year, quite honestly. BUT ! – there were a surprising number of wonderful musics and books that happened… more than i am able to remember at this moment of making this list. I’m probably forgetting many of them because of how distracted I am by how much I otherwise did not like this year.

Aside from finding constant salvation in the arts, I also enjoyed a lot of hikes and walks with my wife and dogs and those days were probably my favourite. I’ve also found myself composing a LOT more work than usual. So there were, indeed, good things,..and there are more good things to come.

Listening ( no particular order ):

– The Caretaker – Everywhere at the End of Time
– Explosions In The Sky – The Wilderness
– Biosphere – Departed Glories
– Daniel Lanois – Goodbye to Language
– Roberto Musci – Tower of Silence
– Kjartan Sveinsson – Der Klang der Offenbarung Des Gottlichen
– Bethan Kellough – Aven
– Christopher Tignor – Along a Vanishing Plane
– Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – In Summer
– Benoit Pioulard – The Benoit Pioulard Listening Matter
– Odd Nosdam – Music for Raising / Sisters
– Tangents – Stateless
– Fernando Sor / Narciso Yepes – 24 Etudes — ( a late discovery but worth mentioning )
– Hildur Gudnadottir – Saman — (another late discovery but also worth mentioning)
– Rachel’s – Systems/Layers vinyl reissue

Reading ( no particular order / no particular year release ):

– John Wray – The Lost Time Accidents
– Patrick Dewitt – Undermajordomo Minor
– Jonathan Lethem – Gambler’s Anatomy
– John Muir – Wilderness Essays (reissue)
– Ethan Canin – A Doubter’s Almanac
– Haruki Murakami – Hear the Wind Sing/Pinball 1973 (reissue)

“False Readings On” is available now on Temporary Residence.

http://www.eluvium.net/
https://www.temporaryresidence.com/

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Brigid Mae Power (Galway, Ireland)

Having been a firmly established and longtime admired songwriter in her native Irish shores, the breathtaking Irish songwriter Brigid Mae Power released her extraordinary self-titled LP “Brigid Mae Power” via US label Tompkins Square earlier this year to widespread critical acclaim. The album was recorded with U.S. composer and producer Peter Broderick at his hometown studio “The Sparkle” in Portland, Oregon and features eight tracks of fragile beauty in her own inimitable and wholly unique approach as a songwriter (as anyone who has witnessed Power’s incendiary live shows will testify). Such is the album’s timeless brilliance, the nearest parallels that can be drawn to Power’s quietly unassuming, divine artistry are those blessed folk spirits of bygone times such as Sibylle Baier, Tia Blake or Margaret Barry. 

I’m sitting on a Ryanair plane right now on my way back from Glasgow, where last night I played my final gig of the year. I played at The Glad Café with Mike Heron and The Trembling Bells.

I’m not great at doing my research or homework with who I am playing with, partly because I just seem to be in a scattered daze a lot of the time, but mostly because I can’t find much time to listen to new and old music. But I don’t mind because it means I can be really surprised out of the blue as I have no expectations. Mike Heron and the Trembling Bells were so warm, odd, brilliant and heartfelt. I wanted to hug them all while they were playing. The lyrics were so bizarre also. Mike Heron was in The Incredible String band who I know virtually nothing about, but will now try and get some of their records.

2016 was a great year for me. I released my self-titled album with Tompkins Square Records and I also got to experience playing shows in countries I had never previously visited. I went to Japan in September, played in an old school, a Buddhist temple and an old jazz club. I got to eat the most amazing food I had ever tasted. I came home feeling sick at the sight of cheese and bread and made myself noodle soups for the first few weeks when I got home.

I played at Le Guess Who Festival in Utrecht and got to see how pretty that place is and play my favourite bill ever with my husband and my sister-in-law..
I got to spend most of the summer in Portland, Oregon, and also by the coast in Oregon. I got to spend time around beautiful tall trees, see vultures circling around my head and lie down in the sun for days and days. I literally just let my body warm up as much as it could and dry up all that Irish damp that had been in my bones for years. Whilst lying down I drew a lot, I did read too but I can’t really remember what I was reading.

Right now I am reading ‘M Train’ by Patti Smith, which I love. I love her daily routine of sitting in cafés drinking coffee and writing. I used to do the same except with drawing mostly instead of writing, when I was in my early twenties. But when I returned to Galway I no longer felt anonymous in cafés, everyone would ask “ooh what are ya drawing?” or “Oh right, that looks a little strange!” and it just made me too self-conscious so I would draw at home instead. But there’s something about working in an atmosphere where life is going on around you, but not paying attention to you, that I love.

Musically 2016 saw a bit of a Joni Mitchell binge for me. Especially in most recent months. ‘Clouds’, ‘Miles of Aisles’, ‘Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter’, ‘Court and Spark’, ‘For the Roses’ and ‘Night Ride Home’. I devoured all of them! And I still am. I knew bits of all of them before but I had never listened to them in such depth. I also listened a lot to Andy Irvine and Paul Brady’s album.. I started running a few weeks ago and started to listening to some old jazz albums to get me to moving…Art Blakey’s ‘Witch Doctor’ to be exact.

I finished Elena Ferrante’s fourth Neapolitan novel in 2016 I think…or it might’ve still been 2015. Oh! Twin Peaks! I was first introduced to Twin Peaks just this year.. I loved everything about the first season, the second season creeped me out and scared me too much but I still managed to watch it and love it.

Anyway 2016 has been an exciting year and I think I have missed out on a lot of things and events etc. but maybe it’s because I’m still experiencing them and haven’t had time to reflect..

Ok I have to go now as I am juggling writing this and watching a 6-year-old run crazy around an indoor play place, which really does sum up what I’ve done mostly this year. Crazy-mother-music-juggle.

—Brigid Mae Power

“Brigid Mae Power” is available now on Tompkins Square.

http://brigidmaepower.com/
http://www.tompkinssquare.com/

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Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (Dublin, Ireland) 

2016 was another busy year for the ever-prolific Irish composer and fiddle player Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. As well as releasing the second album by The Gloaming (“2” via Real World Records), the world-renowned quintet also toured extensively throughout 2016 to sell-out audiences at both home and abroad. Ó Raghallaigh also toured and performed across Ireland with the Dingle-based concertina player Cormac Begley (bass, baritone, treble and piccolo concertinas). As well as performing with The Gloaming (alongside Iarla Ó Lionáird, Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill and Thomas Bartlett), Ó Raghallaigh also performs with This Is How We Fly, another inspired contemporary supergroup, consisting of Ó Raghallaigh on hardanger fiddle, Seán Mac Erlaine on clarinets and electronics, Nic Gareiss on percussive dance and Petter Berndalen on drums. This Is How We Fly’s second album is due to be recorded in January 2017.

I didn’t buy many records in 2016, hardly read a book, and barely set foot in a cinema all year. But it was a great year of making things for me. It started out with DIY, actually, putting in a new kitchen, tiling, plumbing and the whole lot. Thanks, Google, you saved my life!

We had a great writing week at the Tyrone Guthrie with This is How we Fly early in the year. What a magical place that is, a retreat centre beside a lake in Monaghan, dedicated to giving space to artists for them to do their thing. Then there was The Gloaming run at the NCH, and the release of the new album. I came to see a lot of the NCH over the first half of the year – I was artist-in-residence in their new Kevin Barry Recital Room, which was a lovely opportunity to work with some remarkable musicians.

In terms of listening to music, Seán Mac Erlaine’s Duo Series of concerts was immensely enjoyable – two of them stood out for me: his duo with Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset in which they created glorious landscapes of sound; and his duo with Norwegian musician Jan Bang, a properly marvellous live-sampling dance that stands out as my favourite gig of the year.

Watched some amazing stuff on Netflix this year: Black Mirror and Stranger Things were two of my favourites. Future Islands. Found an amazing new tuning for the 10-string fiddle that is deeply satisfying!

For 2017, I think I’d like to focus on some solo stuff a bit more, especially with the live-processing coding up and running now. Do a few more courses, continue to learn and expand. And maybe think about making a solo record of it all.

We’ll be recording the new This is How we Fly album in January, thanks to our recently completed and successful FundIt campaign. Plus there are a few more albums already up the sleeve, so it could be a busy year for the releases!

—Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

“2” by The Gloaming is available now on Real World Records.

http://www.caoimhinoraghallaigh.com/
http://www.thegloaming.net/

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George Xylouris (Crete, Greece)

Legendary lute player George Xylouris released his second album with duo Xylouris White this year – the inspired, earth-shattering collaboration with world-renowned Brooklyn-based drummer Jim White of Melbourne’s mythical trio Dirty Three – entitled “Black Peak” (Bella Union), the follow-up to the duo’s equally sublime 2014 debut “Goats” (Other Music Recording Co.). Xylouris hails from Anogeia, a mountain shepherding village set into the hills of Crete, down the hill from the Cave of Zeus (“Black Peak” itself is named after a mountaintop in Crete). George Xylouris, a true master of the Cretan lute, also performs with The Xylouris Ensemble (which also features his three Greek-Australian children). Xylouris White toured extensively throughout the globe this year, with extensive shows throughout Europe, USA and Australia. 

I don’t know how to start this but to me the highlight of this what I’m doing now with Xylouris White is exactly that: to be with Jim White and play around the world.

I’m playing wonderful places and venues with beautiful audiences and that’s the most enjoyable stuff which I had all this time. I play my instrument almost 40 years now.

Highlight is to meet all these nice people. Musicians or not musicians and work with these people.

Here are some photos from our 2016 tours:

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(i).
Xylouris White at Fox Theatre Oakland, San Francisco a few hours before the show with Godspeed you! Black Emperor. One of the most beautiful theatres I ever played. February 4th 2016.

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(ii).
A Beautiful Day in LA.
The Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian. Hung out in the little cafes around the venue and the tour bus waiting for show time.

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(iii).
The Cathedral in LA. Beautiful sound.

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(iv).
From California, Arizona Colorado, by bus, what a journey….

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(v).
Union Pool, Brooklyn. “Sweet Home Stage” Launch of second album “Black Peak”.

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(vi).
Melbourne, March 11 2016. On the way to National Gallery to play at exhibition of Ai Weiwei and Andy Warhol.

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(vii).
Big Ears Festival in Knoxville TN April ’16. I met the big master Marshall Allen, great honour.

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(vii).
Car broke down, the band kept going. Pennsylvania, see you in Boston.

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(viii).
west coast, Portland Oregon, after show at Mississippi Studios, cold night, warm team, w Emmett Kelly, Sabrina Rush, west coast team.

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(ix).
Back to Europe from west coast USA: Krakow, Poland. Unsound Festival.

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(x).
Changing trains, heading to Birmingham.

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(xi).
4-day break back home. Crete. Before Tawain.

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(xii).
Taipei. Dumplings. Delicious. Love Love Rock Festival. On an old tea farm in the woods up in the hills, you see the villages around the hills. Magic.

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(xiii).
Back in the USA east coast team: marisa anderson, eliot, george, jim. Break on the road. Enjoyable to spend time with these people.

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(xiv).
Portsmouth NH. Breakfast time and singing after last night’s show together with Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins, one of my favorite shows ever.

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(xv).
thank you guys and see you soon again.

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(xvi).
‘Black Peak’ in Crete.

“Black Peak” by Xylouris White is available now on Bella Union.

 

http://www.xylouriswhite.com/
http://bellaunion.com/

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Loscil (Vancouver, Canada)

Loscil’s Scott Morgan has been responsible for some of the most captivating and stunningly beautiful ambient creations over the past fifteen years. Across a compelling body of work (beginning with the 2001 classic ‘Triple Point’) – the majority of which has been released on the immense Chicago-based imprint Kranky – Vancouver-based Morgan has developed his own unique style of textural rhythms that ceaselessly blur the lines of ambient, techno, drone and modern-classical. The recently released ‘Monument Builders’ – one of 2016’s finest gems – marks the latest chapter in Loscil’s explorations through sound that lies at the intersect between nature and humanity. Next March will see the release of Loscil’s highly anticipated debut collaboration with American cellist Mark Bridges under the name High Plains.

rugged Wyoming mountaintops
frostbitten and sprawling
frozen streams, lingering cello and chopped piano notes
a winter journey, listening on the precipice in a snowstorm
co-conspirator Bridges
dotted with horses, High Plains

building monuments
to the suns
brutalist pictures
Otic sessions
horns After Life
dancer inked and scratched on film

pretty good homecoming
square improvisation with Red

London fest
Peter’s choir
Paul at St Paul’s
french horn rehearsals
Barbican Wild Birds

cancer fighter
a humble face
filled with fear
but a survivor
a true Victor

the other London
borders after elections, nightmares
Chicago is too warm
travelling companion Benoît
constant polaroids
Detroit storms of many kinds
Philadelphia gatherings
New York Cuban cigars
flurries through the Adirondacks
Cohen shrines in a second home
Kingston surprises
Toronto warmth despite the cold

a quiet end
despite near Terror
so many farewells
starting anew

 

“Monument Builders” is available now on Kranky.

http://www.loscil.ca/
http://www.kranky.net/

 

With special thanks to all our readers and listeners for their support over the last twelve months. Wishing everyone a very happy and peaceful new year & best wishes for 2017.

Read our favourite albums of the year for 2016 HERE & listen to our December mixtape for La Blogothèque HERE.

https://www.facebook.com/FracturedAir
https://twitter.com/Fractured_Air

 

Central And Remote: Iarla Ó Lionáird

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Interview with Iarla Ó Lionáird.

“So you manage to track the different phases of life through music which is also for me very important to realize that music could have a real function in society, a real place in everyday life.”

— Iarla Ó Lionáird

Words: Mark Carry, Design: Craig Carry

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The Gloaming’s self-titled debut album has been gracing the earth’s atmosphere ever since its release back in 2013. The super-group features New York pianist Thomas Bartlett (Doveman, Anthony and the Johnsons, Martha Wainwright), Chicago guitarist Dennis Cahill, Irish sean-nos singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, fiddler and hardanger innovator Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and fiddle master Martin Hayes. A common thread that connects these gifted musicians together is the masterful use of language, sentiment and desire to elicit emotion of the truest and rawest kind. Ó Lionáird’s mesmerising voice blends majestically alongside the fiddle of Hayes and Ó Raghallaigh’s trusted Hardanger d’Amore. The opening ‘Song 44’ comprises of lyrics adapted from original poem no. 44 by poet Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh. An unfathomable beauty is unleashed by The Gloaming that utters, with every sacred note, to phrase a poet: “the godly-given prize” of true art and treasured music. ‘The Necklace of Wrens’ contains lyrics adapted from the original poem by Michael Hartnett. The piano line of Bartlett serves the aching pulse to Ó Lionáird’s fragile vocal delivery. Some moments later, Cahill’s guitar adds new layers of depth and elegance. The words and music of ‘Opening Set’ — the album’s longest cut — represents the crowning jewel of the group’s towering debut album. Distinct movements begin and end throughout the heavenly sixteen minutes, as the instrumentation of guitar, voice, fiddle and piano casts an everlasting spell upon you that further confirms the abundance and exceeding beauty of its native music.

I feel the beautiful poem ‘The Music or the Folk’ by Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil translates the sheer beauty of The Gloaming’s truly transcendent work into fitting words:

From time eterne unto these living hours
 They count their heritage;
 And fresh as wood-bells wet with April showers
 It wears its weight of age.
 The stream of nature-song runs quick the-day
 As it ran in the world of years away.”

One of Iarla’s latest projects is the special collaboration with American composer Dan Trueman, poet Paul Muldoon and American ensemble eighth blackbird, entitled Olagón. In the legendary Irish tale Táin Bó Cúailnge, two brothers are forced to battle one another for three days. Cuchulainn slays Ferdia, and lets loose a powerful, guttural, mournful cry, the cry known as “olagón”. The rich and conflicted notion of “olagón” is the starting point for a new hour-long concert work, created by composer/performer Dan Trueman, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, and ensemble eighth blackbird.

For all the latest projects and releases from Iarla Ó Lionáird, please visit:
http://www.iarla.com/
https://www.facebook.com/iarlaolionaird

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Interview with Iarla O’ Lionaird.

It would be wonderful first of all to talk about The Gloaming; it’s such a special album with all these incredible musicians and the result when you all come together and in turn, what you create is so magical.

Iarla Ó Lionáird: Well we don’t get to play together too often and maybe that’s why it works out [laughs]. But it is part of it I think that we don’t do it too often, funnily enough because I think when you do something very often – and you’re very good at it – the problem is you’re very good at doing the same thing. And I think the way The Gloaming is set up, you don’t get to do it so often and falling into an habitual way of playing so it always feels fresh and on the edge and at the risk of doing ourselves some reputational damage we’re always a little bit under-rehearsed as well but just enough to do the gig. And even the last time we played, we had an hour’s worth of new material – quite fresh and not totally understood maybe but we were going to go for it anyway – so I think there are some of the other things that keep things fresh for us and it creates a sense of adventure when we meet because you don’t know for example how long a tune is going to last or how quite to set up something; we just let things happen as much as possible. That is not to say we’re lazy about it, we do want to hit the sweet spot if possible and that’s the biggest challenge to stay fresh and to hit the sweet spot and to keep doing it.

The fact that you are all involved with your own projects as well, for example with the projects you’re involved with in the meantime and then when you go back and for the others too, it must give you new perspective when going back to The Gloaming and you may have a different approach than the last time?

IÓL: Yeah I mean I think a couple of things happen when we get back together that I really like. First of all, I’m always a bit surprised at how nice it is, how nice it feels you know and how powerful and emotional it is. I suppose it’s how good these guys are, I’m speaking just as a singer. These guys are so good, they’re able to do things on the fly and they’re so responsive to each other. I mean from the very early time, I was surprised by that, you know. I mean it’s an odd thing to say that I would be surprised by such a thing because I have worked with other bands and other groups but these guys are very instinctive and lead-footed and also they reach into emotional territory very quickly by the way they play, each and every one of them. So when you’re in their midst and you haven’t been for a while, I always get this powerful feeling you know. There is this energy generated and it’s a very emotional feeling, very emotional energy and I love it and it surprises me usually.

You’re right, when you’re away from it and you’re doing other things, some of the things I undertake when I’m away from it are very difficult – I find them difficult anyway – complicated and I end up outside of my comfort zone but when I meet the Gloaming, the challenge is different. I find it’s very comfortable but at the same time it’s edgy and I’m on the edge of my seat wondering what’s going to happen and also really enjoying the feelings that we generate with the audience, I think that also came as a surprise to me compared to other things that I’ve done which might be a bit cerebral comparatively. This stuff with the Gloaming especially as we don’t do it too often to become too self-aware, it always moves us a lot as well which is a huge bonus.

I love how the album itself – and it’s been a common theme from previous records in the past – takes traditional material and utilizing or adapting it to your own needs and into music. It’s something very powerful, even some of the specific lyrics on the album for example.

IÓL: Well the funny thing is of all of us in the band the only person who really decided to be a traditional musician was Caoimhín [Ó Raghallaigh] if you like because he grew up in Dublin that’s not to say that Dublin is any lesser of an area for traditional music. But Martin [Hayes] and I were born into it, do you know what I mean, we just didn’t have a choice. And Thomas [Bartlett] also comes from the outside but I feel that myself and Martin if we hadn’t grown up with traditional music, we could have become something else entirely even if we were musicians we could be other kinds of musicians. So I think there is a desire amongst us – certainly myself and I’ve discussed it with the lads many times – to bend the tradition to our will and to imagine ourselves maybe not even as traditional musicians. It just so happens that is the sandbox we find ourselves in and this area of play if you like and that’s the language we use.

To all intents and purposes I mean –I’ve often said it before – if you listen to the playlists that people have on their iPods in the Gloaming you might be surprised of the lack of traditional music through it [laughs]. It might be embarrassing but the fact is many of my colleagues in the Gloaming would spend much more time listening to other forms whether it be interpretative jazz or progressive alternative music in the pop area and then also mixing that up with very old retrieval stance when it comes to traditional music. So we try to bend it to our will.

I love old text sources. Just to give you the impact, I was down in the studio working on something for this group 3epkano who do movie soundtracks and I’m a guest vocalist with them and my usual aim there is I listen to the backing track and I have a bunch of lyrics and I just let things happen. I just see what pops out and then I start crafting that so there is no plan; whatever comes out is already inside but I didn’t see it. So, it’s almost like a question of I really believe it’s inside and I just let it out.

Even in this day and age, there are so many artists that can’t be pigeon-holed in the best way possible in the sense that people like yourself there is no boundaries and you wouldn’t know what project you’d do next which is obviously a great thing.

IÓL: Yeah I mean there is a certain amount of freedom, obviously there are some limits, I mean people would be shocked –perhaps horrified – if I did rap or something like that, I would be more shocked even [laughs]. But there are limits I mean there are aesthetic directions that we are drawn to but the interesting thing is these aesthetic directions, they superimpose, they overlord genre. That’s an interesting distinction I would like to make, these aesthetic choices musicians make today, they have an overlordship over genre, historically derived consideration. So that in other words, someone of my own background in traditional singing doesn’t have a philosophical difficulty with working in neo-classical or in realms of music that is more alternative pop or whatever or alternative rock or progressive modern music.

There are limits to my own creativity and my aesthetic is what creates boundaries for me more than anything else, things that I would like, things that would appeal but not genre so much funnily enough. But that also speaks to the truth that genre all over the world is opening up, not just our traditional music. In other words there is more permeability in the pop world to a degree, in the classical world to a degree and folk music has gone through a huge revolution in the last ten years. It’s very trendy to be a folk musician now [laughs]. I mean I even see on your own stuff online under Fractured Air, folk is there as well as these other forms of modern music. So like when I was growing up, folk was not trendy [laughs]. I’m not saying you’re trendy but it was very much in its own –I don’t want to use the word get-out because that would suggest people didn’t like being in it – but it was in its own zone and the freedom of movement between genre that we see now simply didn’t exist so it’s actually a great time to be creative.

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I can’t wait to hear your newer project with Dan Trueman, Olagón, which sounds really interesting altogether.

IÓL: [laughs] That’s going to be very weird, I can definitely say that. One of the challenges with Olagón is that we went to Paul Muldoon with this rather nice idea you know, an idea that had a certain coherence: Cuchulainn’s lament for Ferdia upon killing him which in itself is rather Irish – I’ll kill you but then I’ll lament you [laughs] – almost thespian. We went to him with that idea and we came back with something really quite evocatively different. And then because he had done it and because he worked so hard on it and it was so good, we have had to mock-run it and one of the challenges for me in that piece which we’re working on at the moment with eighth blackbird, we meet every 3 or 4 months to workshop it, usually in the United States and right now Dan Trueman is working quite feverishly at aspects of it. I had to decide at one point how many Iarlas there are. Normally I could be one sort of character doing a show, you know the Gloaming or whatever but in this project I’m having to unpack what it is to be an Irish folk musician into many different and distinct parts. I’ve been listening to The Dubliners, I’ve been listening to traveller music, I’ve been listening to sean-nós all of them are finding a voice in me so that’s very odd for me and very good for me I think.

I suppose you crossed paths with Dan Trueman quite a while ago, Iarla?

IÓL: Oh I did. Actually the funny thing is when I first got to know Caoimhín O’ Raghallaigh, he’s a great pal of mine: I adore Caoimhín, he’s such a wonderful friend and such a beautiful presence in our musical lives and he is a true friend. And he brought Dan down to see me when Dan was visiting Ireland having spoken to me about him quite a bit. So ever since then Dan and I have been very good friends and he’s a wonderful man, he did quite a lot of work for me a couple of years ago when I was performing with the RTÉ National Concert Orchestra, he did three of my songs for orchestra and he did a magnificent job, a standout job. So I’ve been over and back to him quite a bit in Princeton where he works and it’s been very interesting and very challenging I hasten to add. Dan likes complex music, I think he is aware of my limitations but I suppose quite rightly he’s not making it easier for me either [laughs], sometimes I wish he did.

When you’re writing new works, for example the Vanburgh String Quartet earlier this year, you’re working away quietly and then when it comes to the performance and the touring; it must be very rewarding to see how an idea unfolds to the resultant music.

IÓL: It is, I mean you are quite right a lot of it is quiet backroom stuff for months and months and months and in the case of Olagón with Dan Trueman years, we won’t actually perform that to the public until 2017 having started talking about it a year ago. With the Linda Buckley pieces for the Vanburgh that was a very enjoyable experience for me. I felt that she wrote very beautifully for me, very knowing of what I would like to do but at the same time, bringing me somewhere I hadn’t been. A lot of it is because she is a singer herself and I remember listening to the mock-ups and I thought they were so beautiful and at one point I told her maybe I shouldn’t sing on them at all, she should do it herself [laughs] because they sounded so good.

You’re right there is an aspect of you’re sitting in the studio on your own a fair bit for long periods of time. And you’re always working closely with colleagues on imagining many different things: first of all, it changes from composer to composer, in the case of Dan Trueman I’m co-writing with him so I end up frequently writing a lot of the melodic lines I sing myself, in the case of Linda, I asked her to create something and I’m glad I did so it can change. There is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in terms of the fine detail and then there’s the rehearsal phase, which is very difficult sometimes because I don’t read music functionally and so therefore I have to learn things by heart and I have to find a way of being in the place I’m supposed to be with an ensemble and at the same time understanding their dynamic, their sense of flow and their sense of time and then at the same time performing and it really takes me up to the wire to get it. I mean in the case of Linda, I do remember the rehearsals being worrisome – that was the only worrisome part of it – the performances were just great and it’s beautiful when it comes together in the end, you get a sense that you created something that didn’t exist before which is very special.

Your collaboration with Gavin Bryars was very special as well and the setting of the old Irish text formed the basis of it I suppose. I just loved the instrumentation with your voice on that particular record.

IÓL: That’s right. We were very lucky that some academic work had been done on providing a collection of ‘Lon Anama’, which is Food for the Soul which was a spiritual text or collections down through the ages, going back 1500 years, a long way back. We’re uniquely positioned in Ireland because you can locate very ancient textual poetic works – by any standard very ancient in written form through the various phases in history, medieval, pre-Christian, Early Christian and through the phases of the evolution of the Irish language. It does change quite a bit, I mean early Irish is almost unrecognizable compared to modern Irish in its syntax and structure and sound. I don’t obsess over it every day of the week but I absolutely love being aware of our pre-history not just as Irish people but as human beings, our mysterious paleontology going way, way back to when we stood upright at all.

And our own story as Irish people is mostly overlooked really by people because it’s in a language that they’re not comfortable with, which is tragic but understandable. I remember I grew up speaking Irish – I made no effort to learn Irish – had I made an effort I wouldn’t speak it at all. So I’m very sympathetic to people who don’t share my fluency or my ease with the language but what it does allow me to do is to navigate through time at will and I absolutely have a huge yearning for that. I inherited it from my parents actually. And even with the Gloaming I was using very ancient text sources because they’re just so beautiful and they’re so poignant and they still speak very clearly to me today with absolute clarity they speak out and they do to most people who are interested in words if they could take the time to read them, even in translation and to sound them out in their own language is also very beautiful.

And the other thing I should say is I find the Irish language a very beautiful thing to sing. It just sounds great, it’s got a beautiful vowel-shaped structure and sound meaning in itself and I feel very comfortable with it and I feel blessed that I love doing it. There are those who would say you’re a missionary to bring it into the contemporary world; I don’t see it that way as such but having said that it’s probably inevitable because I listen to so much music from now and so my ears and my eyes they meet inside the text and inevitably then I make it contemporary.

iarla2400

I love also the aesthetic of The Gloaming’s album where there is obviously periods of instrumental music and then your voice coming in at the different parts, almost like a collage in a way. It makes it more poignant then when your voice returns.

IÓL: Yeah I suppose so, that’s the kind of band it is. It’s not a band in the sense that there will be a song followed by a song followed by another song. And curiously enough when you look at my career such as it is that was the kind of thing I was always doing even with the Afro Celt Soundsystem. Each album was pretty much a mixture of songs and instrumental work. I like it because in a sense although I listen to a lot of instrumental music and singing, the human voice is interesting because when you’re not hearing it, part of you is waiting for it and then when you hear it you get this massive –well probably automatic so it’s not always noticeable – but you do get this sense that there is a connection made. So in a sense the fact that I’m not always there is a huge advantage for me because when I come in, it’s audibly an additional, humanised message.

But having said that again I have to remind myself that to compare like Martin Hayes, he uses his instrument as though it were a voice: it’s so liquid and it’s so languid and he tells me that he feels like he’s singing and he breathes when he’s playing as though he were singing. And that’s also fascinating for me to consider and I never really considered it until I was with The Gloaming. But each instrument that these guys play is an extension of their human, physical desire to express and to emote and to feel. Each of them are saturated in this sound field that they create which is a feedback loop, which manipulates their intonation and every aspect of the sound that they’re making so that they’re satisfying a message they want to send out.

It’s a beautiful complex and to be in the middle of that in a live show, you know I often think that I’m cheating because the harmonium allows me to sit there with them; thank God for the harmonium because I don’t want to be walking on and off. Even though I do walk on and off as it were on the records, I’m there all the time onstage, I absolutely love it, it’s an incredible privilege. I’ve always wanted to be in sessions but I couldn’t [laughs] so I was very jealous at that. As a singer you wouldn’t be involved in the same way, you know.

I’d love for you to go back Iarla to the period of time when you were in a choir and the whole world of sean-nos and how you developed your singing voice.

IÓL: Well I was in a choir from the time I was a little boy and it was a great proving ground. I’ve often used the metaphor that it was like being in a little group of trees and there were little trees and there were big trees and the big trees shaded you and allowed you to grow. It was a safe place to be, you weren’t exposed and also there was great listening. I recall particularly being in listening mode whilst singing: hearing the different voices, the different colours and also there was of course the exploration of repertoire and the different things that asks of your voice all inside a sort of protected sphere that helps you to nurture your talents. And I’ll be honest as well, there came a time when I started imagining how would I do this where the “I” started to be more important than the “we” but that’s natural and that’s also a good place for that to happen: a choir. Many is the singer across the world have started their singing experience in choirs; it gives you a confidence, it gives you some knowledge of the range of what’s possible but it also is a safe place to expand and to grow.

I took a lot of lessons from Peader O’ Riada then on weekends – a small group of us used to go to his house – and that was really great where I started digging more deeply into very old songs. I was very young, I mean I started going there when I was about eight or nine and continued until I started recording my early recordings of these big vision songs. But perhaps I shouldn’t have been doing it when I was only a little boy but I was very drawn to them even though I didn’t understand really fully perhaps what emotional language they were trying to express because they were adult themes. But singing in the choir was a beautiful experience for me. I mean I do tend to idolize it but it was great craic as well, the Cuil Aodha people were great craic and there was great craic to be had travelling with them, a joyousness. Also we would sing of course in a cultural sense like in our own small society, we had a function you know: singing at mass, singing at funerals, things like that. So you manage to track the different phases of life through music which is also for me very important to realize that music could have a real function in society, a real place in everyday life as it does in many countries other than the west.

Like with any artist when you look through the different albums, I love how each album tells its own unique story but there is a certain special space in time for each one where there is that particular place that each one brings you to as a listener.

IÓL: That’s true I mean it’s almost impossible to make a record, in a way there would be something wrong with a record if it didn’t in somehow or other demonstrate the “now” of your life, you know even if you don’t want it to it will. My first recording with Real World [‘The Seven Steps to Mercy’], I was much younger – it was 1997 – I suppose they wanted me to do a record that had evidence of an older culture but at the same time, was brought into the contemporary world. The next record then I made [‘I Could Read The Sky’] – I made it here at home where I’m sitting here now – in my studio and that was a very personal record; very empowering because I was producing it myself and I had a great colleague with me, Kieren Lynch; an engineer for many movies and many different people, he’s a great guy from Donegal. And he worked so hard and he was so dedicated. On that record I was able to write about the fact that I had just become a Dad and so forth. My little son is in it actually, saying the word ‘hedgehog’ [laughs], it’s the only thing he says in it [laughs] because I actually liked the way he said it, you can barely hear it. There’s a song on there about my daughter.

Then the next record, ‘Foxlight’ I made with a really great English producer Leo Abrahams. I made that here and in London. I was a good bit older by then and really when you turn forty you start thinking in a different way; maybe I was suffering from tired Dad syndrome to some extent. These things track different phases of your life in an odd kind of way. I’m not sure if The Gloaming has done that funnily enough because it’s not that autobiographical but we’ll see what the next record turns out like.

As you say that Iarla, I wonder can you shed some light on the new music because there must be a considerable amount of material collected at this stage?

IÓL: There is actually. When we played last spring in Dublin we felt we really needed to start creating new material, so we did go into a studio for a while – or into a room rather – and we created about an hour and a half of new material including lots of new songs. We’ve decided we’re going into the studio sometime in early December, it’s all booked and we’re going to put those down. I mean some of them aren’t fixed yet. There is one song of my own which I have written myself which is not finished so I’ll have to sit down with Thomas one of these days [laughs] and get him to finish it with me. But there is a lot of new material and I like it I must say. It’s using what we have learned in terms of how to be together a bit better and it’s not throwing the baby out of the bath water because we don’t need to do that yet, it’s stepping further into the water of being together.

So when we made the first record it came together very quick. We may not have fully understood; what the first record told us was that there was so much we could do, you know. It only told us that afterwards really and this next record is just another step in that direction. But I have a fair idea about what it’s going to be like and I’m quite excited about it. There will be just a bit more integration with the songs and the tunes. The first record was like two people watching each other in a dance hall [laughs], wondering which one is going to blink first but on this new record they get to dance more.

One last thing Iarla, has there been any music, books or films you’ve been inspired by in the past while?

IÓL: I’m inspired by every kind of thing that’s the truth now. I made a distinct decision about less than a year ago to start listening to more music. When you’re a Dad with young kids for a period of time your life really changes and it takes a while to get back into sort of ‘me’ mode. But I have a new stereo [laughs] and I’ve been listening to a huge amount of music. One of the things I like very much is listening to all kinds of things and there is something to be got from everything. I’m buying a lot of vinyl now with my son – he’s fourteen – he’s into Godspeed! You Black Emperor and whenever I say that to people they say, wow, he’s cool; he’s a lot cooler than I am [laughs]. He found that himself and he listens to a lot of things himself online and he knows what he likes. But we’re buying a lot of vinyl, most of the vinyl came out in the 70’s and 60’s, we’ve been buying a lot of jazz from the 50’s and early 60’s, we’ve been buying a lot of American music from 60’s and early 70’s, everything from Marvin Gaye to Tom Waits. He’s very much into ambient music so we’ve been listening to a lot of that; everything from Roedelius to Brian Eno.

I have a huge collection of Brian Eno here, I’ve been listening to him for years. It’s a bit easy to say but it’s true, I used to buy his LP’s in Crowley’s in Cork when I was a young boy, as a teenager. I hitch-hiked to Cork from Ballyvourney when I was my son’s age. Now would I let him hitch to Dublin? I wouldn’t, I mean life has changed hasn’t it? But I remember buying ‘Music For Airports’ and God knows what else years ago. So it’s great having kids; I’m very fortunate my kids are into music and my son is just so into music, he’s so into listening to it and he’s a good piano player, he wants to learn the guitar and my girls and my wife, they’re mad into music – they love Lorde – I’ve been trying to get them into St. Vincent but they’re not biting – maybe they’re a little young, they’re like nine and twelve but they love Lorde. There’s a lot of good young women musicians out there now. I mean there always was, I was a huge fan of Joni Mitchell and people like that. I love listening to vinyl I must say, I don’t know why, I just like putting them on. I’ve been listening to Early Music for example and Early Baroque. I’ve been listening to The Books, I love their stuff.

 

 


 

thegloaming

The Gloaming’s self-titled debut album is available now on Real World (EU) & Brassland (USA).

http://thegloaming.net/
https://www.facebook.com/TheGloamingOfficial

For all the latest projects and releases from Iarla O’ Lionáird, please visit:

http://www.iarla.com/
https://www.facebook.com/iarlaolionaird

 

Mixtape: A Safe Harbour

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asafeharbour_sleeve

A Safe Harbour [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/a-safe-harbour-a-fractured-air-mix/

 

Tracklisting:

01. Amiina (ft. Lee Hazlewood) ‘Hilli (At the Top of the World)’ [Everrecords]
02. Sam Amidon ‘Saro’ [Bedroom Community]
03. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh ‘big mammoth’ [Diatribe]
04. The Gloaming ‘Samradh Samradh’ [Real World]
05. Kate Ellis ‘Aisling Gheal’ (Trad. Irish. A Setting by D. Dennehy) [Diatribe]
06. Seán Mac Erlaine ‘Turaghlan’ [Ergodos]
07. This Is How We Fly ‘March For A Dark Day’ [Playing With Music]
08. Valgeir Sigurðsson ‘Big Reveal’ [Bedroom Community]
09. Julianna Barwick ‘Prizewinning’ [Asthmatic Kitty]
10. Mina Tindle ‘Plein nord’ [Believe Recordings]
11. Nadia Sirota ‘From The Invisible To The Visible’ [Bedroom Community]
12. My Brightest Diamond ‘This Is My Hand’ [Blue Sword (ASCAP)]
13. James McVinnie ‘Hudson Preludes: Follow Up’ [Bedroom Community]
14. So Percussion ‘Music for Wood and Strings: Section 3’ [Brassland]
15. This Is The Kit ‘Bashed Out’ [Brassland]
16. Amiina ‘Leather And Lace’ [Sound Of A Handshake]

Sounds From A Safe Harbour is a festival of music, art & conversation, curated by The National’s Bryce Dessner, taking place on 17—20 September 2015 across various venues in Cork, Ireland. Tickets are on sale now.

http://soundsfromasafeharbour.com
https://www.facebook.com/soundsfromasafeharbour?ref=hl

Fractured Air Presents: COLLEEN (FRA) w/ special guest Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (IRE) / Cork Opera House / SUNDAY 3 MAY 2015

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colleen_concertposter_craigcarry

We’re delighted to be presenting the following double-bill concert with world-renowned composers Cécile Schott (Colleen) and Meteor Choice Music Award winning Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (The Gloaming, This Is How We Fly). This is Colleen’s only Irish date for her 2015 European tour to promote her latest fifth studio album ‘Captain Of None’, released earlier this April via Thrill Jockey Records. Both artists have mastered their own respective instruments of choice; Schott’s treble viola da gamba and Ó Raghallaigh’s ten-string Hardanger d’Amore fiddle. Join both musicians on the Cork Opera House stage (literally) for an intimate gig set up to bring the audience right into the heart of the music. Concert takes place this Sunday 3 May, doors are 8pm and tickets are €17.50.

Tickets are available now from the Cork Opera House Box Office (Emmet Place, Cork), telephone: + 353 (0) 21 – 427 0022, or online from the following link:

http://www.corkoperahouse.ie/event/colleen-caoimhin-o-raghallaigh/2015-05-03/

Event Page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/667437746735775/

colleen

COLLEEN (FRA/Thrill Jockey)

The Paris-born musician Cécile Schott has been making music as Colleen for over a decade now: beginning with a string of much-loved records for The Leaf Label (debut 2003 album ‘Everyone Alive Wants Answers’, 2005’s ‘The Golden Morning Breaks’ and 2007’s ‘Les Ondes Silencieuses’, as well as 2006’s ‘Colleen Et Les Boîtes À Musique’, (an E.P. originally created for Atelier de Création Radiophonique as a commission from France Culture). After a four-year break, Colleen made her long-awaited return to music in 2013 with the release of her album ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ via London-based label Second Language, its eleven songs featuring, for the first time, Schott’s own voice as well as a new-found love for Jamaican music and rhythm. Colleen’s highly acclaimed fifth studio album ‘Captain Of None’ was released by Chicago-based label Thrill Jockey Records in April 2015.

‘Captain Of None’ is characterized by a stripped-back sound palette (Schott adopts the use of two main instruments; the treble viola da gamba and voice) and finds Schott embracing her long-term love for Jamaican music in terms of the construction of her own songs (production ideas and experimentation with sound). The album was recorded entirely in her home San Sebastian studio, where two key things happened. Firstly, Schott wished to add basslines to her own music, which lead to her using an Octaver Pedal to create bass sounds (the pedal adds another octave below the original sound you are playing). Secondly, Schott began to use a Moogerfooger pedal to create the delay effects crucial to the dub reggae sound aesthetic. ‘Captain Of None’, together with it’s predecessor, 2013’s ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, journeys Schott’s natural and beautiful transformation from instrumentalist to lyricist, where Schott’s songbook details the inner human life (“so rich and complex it’s just impossible to really understand it and that’s what is really fascinating”).

Colleen’s performance at Cork Opera House will mark Cécile Schott’s eagerly-awaited return to Cork to mark the release of ‘Captain Of None’, her fifth studio album. This is Colleen’s only Irish live performance.

Selected Press for ‘Captain Of None’:

“Colleen essentially provides a journey to this mysterious, elusive heart, one that requires an open mind and sense of adventure… valiant and genre-defying.”
(The Quietus)

“…the whole thing carves out and inhabits a persuasively exotic world of echo that invites total immersion.”
(MOJO)

“…positively vibrate with melodic ideas… the way Colleen uses classical acoustic instruments to reconfigure modern idioms recalls Arthur Russell’s cello-driven World of Echo or Hauschka… Somehow, Schott is able to make these disparate elements feel organic and effortless.”
(Pitchfork)

“The result is gorgeous, like a quietly brewing storm of layered pizzicatos, bouncing off the walls and grazing your ears as they glide past you.”
(Stereo Gum)

“Captain of None is her most ambitious [album] to date. The elegiac vocal elements that buoyed its predecessor are now well and truly on the surface.”
(FACT)

http://colleenplays.org/
https://www.facebook.com/colleenplays
http://www.thrilljockey.com/

caoimhin

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (IRE/The Gloaming, This Is How We Fly)

Ireland’s Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh plays traditional and contemporary folk music on Hardanger d’Amore and other fiddles. The masterful musician and gifted composer is undoubtedly a national treasure; heralding a distinctive and utterly compelling voice in Irish contemporary music. In addition to being an established solo artist, he performs with two groups The Gloaming and This is How we Fly, in duos with Dan Trueman, Mick O’Brien & Brendan Begley, a trio with Martin Hayes & Peadar Ó Riada, and as part of many other collaborative projects.

2014 was a remarkable year for Ireland-based composer Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. Firstly, January ‘14 saw the release of contemporary quintet The Gloaming’s stunning self-titled debut album via Real World Records. Subsequent concerts would be performed across the globe (including Sydney’s Opera House) to mass celebration and widespread critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. As well as touring with his other band, the Irish/Swedish quartet This Is How We Fly, across both Ireland and Europe (and most recently across the U.S.), Ó Raghallaigh also performed a series of truly special solo concerts (entitled “In My Mind”, a solo fiddle and film show) across the length of Ireland for the month of October, organized by Irish Music Network. Despite the hectic touring schedules, Ó Raghallaigh also released two stunning albums: the solo album ‘Music For An Elliptical Orbit’ (via Dublin-based label Diatribe Records) and the mesmerizing ‘Laghdú’, a collaboration with U.S. fiddle player Dan Trueman. The Gloaming’s self-titled debut album was recently awarded the prestigious Meteor Choice Music Prize for 2015.

Selected Press:

“a seamless and unfettered soundscape… there’s enough space and light here for influences as diverse as baroque to minimalism to breathe free… the work of musicians reveling in the moment: a rare find.”
(The Irish Times)

“possibly one of the most fulsome and beautiful recordings I have ever heard. Great music has this magnificent power over us, a power to which the heart must yield always and without regret.”
(Iarla Ó Lionáird)

“ASTOUNDING… Replete with unexpected melodic twists and turns, the tunes are highly cinematic, painting richly impressionistic images.”
(Colm O’Hare, Hot Press)

http://www.caoimhinoraghallaigh.com/
https://www.facebook.com/caoimhinoraghallaigh

 


 

Fractured Air Presents: COLLEEN (FRA) w/ special guest Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (IRE), Sunday 3 May 2015, Cork Opera House, Tickets: €17.50, Doors: 8pm.

Tickets are available now from the Cork Opera House Box Office (Emmet Place, Cork), telephone: + 353 (0) 21 – 427 0022, or online from the following link:

http://www.corkoperahouse.ie/event/colleen-caoimhin-o-raghallaigh/2015-05-03/

ON SALE: Colleen plus special guest Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh / Cork Opera House / Sunday 3 May 2015

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colleen_concertposter_2015

We’re delighted to announce a special double-bill concert comprising the world-renowned composers Colleen (France) and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (Ireland). Each artist has developed a wholly unique playing style and highly distinctive approach to their own respective instrument of choice: Colleen’s viola da gamba and Ó Raghallaigh’s Hardanger d’Amore fiddle. Taking place on the May Bank Holiday Weekend, this concert will be Colleen’s only Irish performance of 2015 in support of her soon-to-be-released fifth studio album on Thrill Jockey Records. In addition, this one-off concert will take place in the intimate setting of the Cork Opera House where the stage itself will be shared by both musicians and audience alike, making for an unforgettable experience. Colleen plus special guest Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh performs at Cork Opera House on Sunday 3rd May 2015, tickets are €17.50.

Tickets are available now from the Cork Opera House Box Office (Emmet Place, Cork), telephone: + 353 (0) 21 – 427 0022, or online from the following link:

http://www.corkoperahouse.ie/events/colleen-caoimh%C3%ADn-ó-raghallaigh

Colleen by Iker Spozio_1_web

COLLEEN (FRA)

The Paris-born musician Cécile Schott has been making music as Colleen for over a decade now: beginning with a string of much-loved records for The Leaf Label (debut 2003 album ‘Everyone Alive Wants Answers’, 2005’s ‘The Golden Morning Breaks’ and 2007’s ‘Les Ondes Silencieuses’, as well as 2006’s ‘Colleen Et Les Boîtes À Musique’, (an E.P. originally created for Atelier de Création Radiophonique as a commission from France Culture). After a four-year break, Colleen made her long-awaited return to music in 2013 with the release of her album ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ via London-based label Second Language, its eleven songs featuring, for the first time, Schott’s own voice as well as a new-found love for Jamaican music and rhythm. Colleen’s hugely anticipated fifth studio album will be released by Chicago-based label Thrill Jockey Records in April 2015.

While her first album, ‘Everyone Alive Wants Answers’, was made up entirely of acoustic samples taken from her eclectic record collection, second album ‘The Golden Morning Breaks’ saw her exploring a wide range of instruments which she all played herself – cello, classical guitar, ukulele, music boxes, windchimes, and a rare 19th century glass harmonicon. After the music box interlude of the ‘Colleen Et Les Boîtes À Musique’ EP, she made an old dream come true with 2007’s ‘Les Ondes Silencieuses’– a modern album using almost exclusively baroque instruments (viola da gamba, spinet, clarinet, classical guitar and crystal glasses), focusing on their resonance and the silence between the notes. Colleen’s performance at Cork Opera House will mark Cécile Schott’s eagerly-awaited return to Cork to mark the release of her fifth studio album.

Press:

“An album of unusual sensuality and feeling.”
(The Irish Times)

“…a gleaming treasure.”
(Folk Radio UK)

“Like nothing you’ve ever heard. Astonishing.”
(DJ)

“Lyrical and full of light…magical.”
(Mojo)

Links:

http://colleenplays.org/
https://www.facebook.com/colleenplays

 


 

Caoimhin-by-Con-Kelleher_web

CAOIMHÍN Ó RAGHALLAIGH (IRE)

Ireland’s Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh plays traditional and contemporary folk music on Hardanger d’Amore and other fiddles. The masterful musician and gifted composer is undoubtedly a national treasure; heralding a distinctive and utterly compelling voice in Irish contemporary music. In addition to being an established solo artist, he performs with two groups The Gloaming and This is How we Fly, in duos with Dan Trueman, Mick O’Brien & Brendan Begley, a trio with Martin Hayes & Peadar Ó Riada, and as part of many other collaborative projects.

2014 was a remarkable year for Ireland-based composer Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. Firstly, January ‘14 saw the release of contemporary quintet The Gloaming’s stunning self-titled debut album via Real World Records. Subsequent concerts would be performed across the globe (including Sydney’s Opera House) to mass celebration and widespread critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. As well as touring with his other band, the Irish/Swedish quartet This Is How We Fly, across both Ireland and Europe, Ó Raghallaigh also performed a series of truly special solo concerts (entitled “In My Mind”, a solo fiddle and film show) across the length of Ireland for the month of October, organized by Irish Music Network. Despite the hectic touring schedules, Ó Raghallaigh also released two stunning albums: the solo album ‘Music For An Elliptical Orbit’ (via Dublin-based label Diatribe Records) and the mesmerizing ‘Laghdú’, a collaboration with U.S. fiddle player Dan Trueman.

Press:

“a seamless and unfettered soundscape… there’s enough space and light here for influences as diverse as baroque to minimalism to breathe free… the work of musicians reveling in the moment: a rare find.”
(The Irish Times)

“possibly one of the most fulsome and beautiful recordings I have ever heard. Great music has this magnificent power over us, a power to which the heart must yield always and without regret.”
(Iarla Ó Lionáird)

“ASTOUNDING… Replete with unexpected melodic twists and turns, the tunes are highly cinematic, painting richly impressionistic images.”
(Colm O’Hare, Hot Press)

Links:

http://www.caoimhinoraghallaigh.com/
https://www.facebook.com/caoimhinoraghallaigh

 


 

Fractured Air presents: COLLEEN plus very special guest CAOIMHÍN Ó RAGHALLAIGH / Cork Opera House / Sunday 3 May 2015

Tickets are available now from the Cork Opera House Box Office (Emmet Place, Cork), telephone: + 353 (0) 21 – 427 0022, or online from the following link:

http://www.corkoperahouse.ie/events/colleen-caoimh%C3%ADn-ó-raghallaigh