Posts Tagged ‘Ergodos’
The Dublin-based woodwind composer (saxophonist and clarinetist) and music producer Seán Mac Erlaine is one of Ireland’s best-loved musicians and composers. Mac Erlaine has released two solo albums to date: 2012’s ‘Long After The Music Is Gone’ and 2014’s ‘A slender song’ (both released by highly acclaimed Irish label Ergodos). Mac Erlaine is also a member of the Irish/Swedish four-piece This Is How We Fly (alongside Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Petter Berndalen and Nic Gareiss) and has collaborated with numerous musicians in the past in both live and studio settings (The Gloaming, Bill Frisell, Lisa Hannigan, The Smith Quartet, Iarla O’Lionaird). This Is How We Fly have toured extensively internationally promoting their debut self-titeld album (having been released at the end of 2013 via Playing With Music). The annual site-specific Dublin-based Bottlenote Festival – a celebration of live improvisation where both national and international artists are invited to perform – is also co-run by Mac Erlaine.
Fractured Air 43: Seán Mac Erlaine “Music To Lean On”
To listen on Mixcloud:
“These are musicians I feel I can trust, to lean on, to deliver the goods when you might need them. I hope some other listeners find some of the same things here as I do.”
—Seán Mac Erlaine, September 2015
01. Vinicio Capossela ‘Abbandonato (Los ejes de mi carreta)’ [La Cùpa]
02. Jon Balke ‘O Andalusin’ [ECM]
03. Bob Dylan ‘I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine’ [Columbia]
04. Jan Bang ‘The Midwife’s Dilemma’ [Samadhisound]
05. Jon Hassell ‘Empire III’ [Editions EG]
06. Katsuya Yokoyama ‘Tsuru no sugomori’ [Ocora]
07. Bobby McFerrin ‘Circlesong Five’ [Sony Classical]
08. Romica Puceanu ‘Cînd ai Parinti Lînga Tine’ [Electrecord]
09. Paul Burch ‘Last of My Kind’ [Merge]
Compiled by Seán Mac Erlaine. The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.
‘A Slender Song’ is available now on Ergodos.
A Safe Harbour [A Fractured Air Mix]
To listen on Mixcloud:
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.
Interview with Seán Mac Erlaine.
“The aim was (and is) to develop a responsive electronic world which matches somehow the sound and approach I had developed with saxophones and clarinets.”
Words: Mark Carry, Artwork: Craig Carry
Seán Mac Erlaine is a Dublin-based woodwind instrumentalist, composer and music producer, recognized as one of Ireland’s most forward-thinking creative musicians. Mac Erlaine’s works intersects folk, free improvisation, jazz and traditional music. He also collaborates with a range of non-musical artists particularly in theatre and radio.
An accomplished saxophonist and clarinetist, Mac Erlaine holds a PhD in music (practice-led research around customised live electronics in solo woodwind performance), a first degree honours Masters of Music (Jazz Performance) and a Diploma in Jazz Performance awarded by The Guildhall School of Music, London.
Mac Erlaine has collaborated with a hugely diverse range of musicians and artists reflecting his own versatility and interest in cross-platform work. He has performed with leading musical figures including Bill Frisell, David Toop, The Smith Quartet, Hayden Chisholm, Lisa Hannigan, Frank Gratkowski, Ronan Guilfoyle, Iarla O’Lionaird, Damo Suzuki and many more. He has also performed as a special guest with Detroit techno legends Underground Resistance and The Gloaming.
One of the pinnacles of the Irish composer’s work are the two utterly compelling solo works already under his belt: the mesmerising 2012 debut full-length ‘Long After The Music Is Gone’ (recorded entirely in a small room in Leitrim) and last year’s eagerly awaited follow-up ‘A Slender Song’, consisting of live recordings of improvised performances around Ireland over a four-year period. The illuminating live performances took place across the length and breadth of the country (in turn somehow reflecting the Irish landscape and its unfathomable beauty) encompassing Cork, Dingle, Dublin, Galway, Laois, Meath, Mitchelstown, Skibereen, Sligo, Tralee and Wicklow. Both records are available on the innovative Dublin-based independent label, Ergodos.
The near-mythical Irish/Swedish quartet of This is How we Fly is a contemporary folk band with Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh – fiddle & hardanger fiddle, Seán Mac Erlaine – clarinets & live electronics, Nic Gareiss – percussive dance, and Petter Berndalen – drums and percussion. Their music sees Swedish folk music rhythms meet the texture of traditional Irish fiddle, percussive dance from America & improvised jazz and electronics. The band’s self-titled debut is a timeless gem: a distillation of contemporary music’s infinite possibilities as an emotion-filled mystical world is unleashed with each timbre and tone of incomprehensible sound cast by these four gifted musicians.
‘A Slender Song’ is available now on Ergodos.
Interview with Seán MacErlaine.
It’s a pleasure to ask you some questions about your otherworldly musical compositions. Firstly, congratulations on the stunning new album, ‘A Slender Song’; it’s a work of tender beauty. This record is a collection of live recordings of improvised performances around Ireland over a four-year period, which in many ways offers a snapshot into various moments in time; reflections on life and indeed, the landscape and trajectory of the Irish landscape. Please take me back to these live performances and the art of improvisation?
Seán Mac Erlaine: Thanks so much for asking, listening and the kind words. I started playing live solo shows around 2006/2007 but in 2010 my approach and tools changed fairly radically as I packed up my dozens of hardware pedals and acres of cables (it just got too heavy for the bicycle!) and started developing and using customised software and a computer alongside my woodwinds. This coincided with quite an increase in solo performances mainly in Ireland, and pretty much all over Ireland, and happy to say, mostly in really interesting spaces for people who (gave the impression) were listening! And being in a space with people is pretty much key to the improvisation thing for me. I’m doing my best to respond to the place and generate some form of exchange with an audience. It seems that to create new music afresh with no predetermined plan is an honest way of attempting that. I guess if you meet a friend for a chat you don’t want either party to really know what going to be said beforehand, to my mind that gets stale very quickly.
I was very interested to read that you see ‘A Slender Song’ as a sister album to your debut solo record, ‘Long After The Music Is Gone’. How has the process changed or technique altered since recording the debut record, Sean? The compelling sound of the woodwind instrumentation in addition to the innovative live electronics conjures up such a timeless and enchanting sound. I can imagine there is a close dialogue and sort of symbiosis existing between the acoustic and electronic worlds of sound for you?
SM: The first record was made in private, in a room in one location, Leitrim. In many ways in was about that location and drilling down into some ideas around that. While it’s full of improvisation there was also much deliberation and reworking and attempting to create a coherent piece of work. There was a lot of learning about the sound world I was presenting. With ‘A Slender Song‘ it was a case of playing with all I had learnt from the first record and bringing it to audiences in different parts of the country and really seeing if I could create new music from scratch every night from a type of solo woodwinds and electronics language I had worked on.
Since I started working with computers, this new set-up allows me to work with live electronics in a much more nuanced way than the guitar stomp boxes I had been using. The aim was (and is) to develop a responsive electronic world which matches somehow the sound and approach I had developed with saxophones and clarinets. I spent the years since then working with this new system (built-in Max/MSP) so that I can improvise with it like an instrumentalist would. Everything you hear comes first from the instrument – there’s no external sampling or prepared sounds, I think this helps bridge a gap between the organic and electronic.
Please take me back to your earliest musical memories? At what age did you begin playing clarinet and saxophone instruments?
SM: My predominant memories of really getting into music are through radio. Back in the day (!), Dublin’s pirate stations played many hours of 1960s chart music which I listened to for hours on end. I was playing piano back then and refusing to do the exams and buying the big book of The Doors arranged for piano was a major turning point. By that time I was playing a lot of guitar and was writing songs and playing Dublin’s singer-songwriter scene as well as terrible lead guitar playing in a band playing Velvet Underground tunes and the like. But for whatever reason I became fascinated with the saxophone, I was about 16 by then. To this day I listen a lot to those early song-making heroes but I ventured deep into the world of instrumental music and now my fingertips hurt when I pick up the six string!
In terms of influences, I would love to gain an insight into the composers and musicians you feel have inspired you – and continue to inspire you – on the path of creating new sounds and music-making?
SM: Well, the important early ones are Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Bowie (jeez I sound like a dad-rocker), when the saxophone arrived it was all Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Miles Davis and I practised everything I could understand from their music for years. I rarely listen to them anymore. I’m much more likely to listen JJ Cale than Bill Evans these days but maybe that’ll change. I’m really into guys like Arve Henriksen, Jan Bang, Toshimaru Nakamura, Jon Hassell, Joanna Newsom, Bill Callahan and heaps of other non-related stuff.
As a teacher of the Alexander Technique, please discuss for me the essence of this technique and the parallel that exists between this area of interest and music?
SM: Explaining the essence of Alexander Technique is quite the challenge, as it encompasses and influences really a lot of things and has been one of the most significant things I’ve encountered. One explanation is that it’s a training of one’s thinking, a development of a mental discipline which allows the student to improve in whatever they are doing. Another description is that I help to teach people how to think and move freely, easily and more efficiently. Music is something that I really care about doing, Alexander Technique allows me to do everything better so music falls into the everything net. It has brought much pure joy to me during performances perhaps sometimes in place of what might have been occupied by negative thinking or anxiety.
In terms of collaboration, you have been involved in many wonderful projects having performed with Bill Frissell, The Gloaming, Lisa Hannigan among many others during the recent past. I can imagine these collaborations must help your own development as a musician and performer? Please recount your memories of playing with some of these musicians? Do you have other collaborations planned in the near future?
SM: Absolutely. Music is a communication and getting to play with other musicians (and artists outside of music) of such a high calibre is really quite a spin. You can learn a ton of things from even watching someone great on stage and then sharing that stage really builds on that. I’m always collaborating with people so in the next few months I’m working on a new theatre piece with an amazing team of actors and dancers; I’m writing for a small improvising choir and setting (some of) Finnegans Wake for them; I’ve a gig with a monstrously good string quartet; and some more secret surprises that I can’t blurt out yet. But each one is a true privilege to be able to spend time and create with these folk.
You are also a member of the highly innovative and awe-inspiring Irish/Swedish group, This Is How We Fly. It’s one of those rare and magical events to witness This Is How We Fly in concert, and I’m glad to have witnessed your show earlier in the year. Please discuss the inception of This Is How We Fly and how each of you crossed paths? Please shed some light on the forthcoming record and what ideas you feel could materialize on the band’s follow-up?
SM: This has been a very special collaboration for me especially as I’m coming from a somewhat another world from the three other men who are steeped in traditional musics in a very deep, informed and ridiculously creative way. I was a big fan of Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh’s playing for years – true story: I first meet him in my own kitchen at a party. And we had spent some time working on material and just playing before he put the group together for a once-off gig. Caoimhín was the only one who knew all of us individually so it was a gamble and we haven’t looked back since. We have been lucky to get to play as often as we do, to feel such support from audiences and to get our first record out there. The next one is slowly brewing, we are writing together and road testing the material live and bit by bit amassing new ways of creating together and listening together. Hopefully that’s what people will hear when album number two is ready!
‘A Slender Song’ is available now on Ergodos.
Holding Pattern [A Fractured Air Mix]
To listen on Mixcloud:
01. Miles Davis ‘Julien Dans L’Ascenseur’ [Fontana]
02. Seán Mac Erlaine ‘Dingle’ [Ergodos]
03. Loscil ‘Holding Pattern’ [Kranky]
04. Klara Lewis ‘Msuic III’ [Peder Mannerfelt produktion]
05. Edvard Graham Lewis ‘Bluebird’ [Editions Mego]
06. Julia Kent ‘Missed’ [Important]
07. Fikret Kızılok ‘Haberin Var Mı?’ [Pharaway Sounds]
08. Sattar ‘Kashki’ [Pharaway Sounds]
09. Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Tõnu Kaljuste ‘Für Lennart In Memoriam’ [ECM]
10. Nico ‘Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams’ [Verve]
11. The Stepkids feat. Krondon & Percee P ‘Legends’ (Remix) [Stones Throw]
12. Homeboy Sandman ‘America, the Beautiful’ [Stones Throw]
13. HTRK ‘Feels like Love’ [Ghostly]
14. William Basinski ‘Melancholia I’ 
15. Lewis ‘Things Just Happen That Way’ [Light In The Attic]
16. Mica Levi ‘Love’ [Milan]
17. The Langley Schools Music Project ‘In My Room’ [Bar/None]
18. Laura Nyro ‘The Wind’ [Columbia]
19. Tom Waits ‘Rainbirds’ [Island]
The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.
Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.
Final part of our “Don’t Look Back” series; which is our look back on the year from the perspective of both musicians as well as various members of the arts 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: 2014.
Part 2 of a 2-part series.
William Tyler (Nashville, USA)
William Tyler is a Nashville guitarist and composer who has played an integral part in world-renowned U.S. bands such as Lambchop, Silver Jews and Hiss Golden Messenger. In recent years, Tyler has carved out a deeply enriching solo path, beginning with 2010’s universally-acclaimed ‘Behold The Spirit’ (Tompkins Square) and its exquisite follow-up, ‘Impossible Truth’ (Merge Records), released in 2013. Last April marked the release of ‘Lost Colony’ – a limited-edition 12-inch – featuring the new song ‘Whole New Dude’, a full-band re-working of ‘We Can’t Go Home Again’ (from ‘Impossible Truth’) and ‘Karussell’; a cover of a Michael Rother (Neu!) song.
My year in review:
Hanging with my buddy Michael Slaboch talking records and life in early January. Michael came down to Nashville from Chicago and got stuck in a rare snow storm the precluded his return to the Windy City, which I believe was suffering from some of the coldest temperatures on record. We ate bbq and watched Auburn lose to Florida State in the national championship game while Nashville buckled from the cold outside.
Touring with Califone in the dead of an intense midwestern winter. We did “Big Ten” country: Minneapolis, Madison, Columbus, Omaha, Detroit, Chicago. I should have brought a snowplow instead of a Volvo station wagon. Beautiful people and music. Frigid temperatures. Haunting drives through cracked Michigan highways covered with snow. Listening to Bruce Hornsby in a Tim Horton’s outside of Benton Harbor.
Taking a series of trains across central and southern Europe on tour in February. Played a rock club that doubled as an indoor shooting range in Belgrade. Played a theater in Zagreb. Played a wine bar in Switzerland. Played a cinema in Lausanne, another cinema in Dresden. Watched “Dallas Buyer’s Club” with German subtitles. Read “Blues People” by Amiri Baraka and “Where the Heart Beats”, an incredible book about John Cage and Zen Buddhism. Train hopped across Italy. Wrote fragments of songs in hotel rooms like you are supposed to. Ate everything that was offered to me. Bought Fernet at an Italian gas station.
I drove across America with my buddy Garland two days after returning from Europe. One day we drove from Nashville to Omaha, the next day across South Dakota to Wyoming. Next day all the way to Coeur D’Alene Idaho. The fourth day we made it to Seattle. I did a three-week tour opening for Daniel Rossen. My other best bud Brad Cook accompanied me for most of the trip. Stoned day off driving through the redwoods for a weird evening of awesome beer and sketchy Mexican food in Eureka, California. Playing a winery in Napa valley. Playing the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. Driving across the west by myself in a rental car. San Diego to Phoenix, Phoenix to Santa Fe, Santa Fe to Roswell, Roswell to Marfa, Marfa to Austin, Austin to Jackson, Mississippi. Putting about 8000 miles on that poor rental car. Up and down the east coast. Driving back through the North Carolina mountains to home finally and the ‘welcome to Tennessee’ signs greeting me.
I moved temporarily to Oxford, Mississippi for a month. Spent a lot of time writing and reflecting, walking every afternoon down to the town square and sharing a few drinks with new friends. This was the place my parents went to college and I settled into the lazy, deliberate pace of the environs. I feel like as I grow older, the pull further South is stronger. It felt like home.
Green Man festival in Wales. Epic hang with my man David Morris. Playing to a field of friendly folks as the sun set. Being cold in the middle of August and drinking lots of cider.
Some things I enjoyed:
Steve Gunn – Way Out Weather
Harold Grosskopf – Ocean Heart
Swans – To Be Kind
Bob Dylan – Basement Tapes reissue
“The Soul of Designer Records” – Big Legal Mess box set
My favorite modern country singles of 2014:
Blake Shelton – Neon Light
Keith Urban – Somewhere in My Car
Dierks Bentley – Drunk on a Plane
Anything by Taylor Swift
‘Lost Colony’ E.P. is available now on Merge Records.
Félicia Atkinson (The French Alps, France)
Félicia Atkinson is a French visual and sound artist based between the French Alps. She also co-curates Shelter Press, an independent music label and contemporary art publishing house. Félicia Atkinson also releases music via her Je suis le petit chevalier guise and exhibits regularly across both Europe and the US. Atkinson lives presently in the French Alps and has released over 20 records and tapes with labels such as Shelter Press, NNA, Umor Rex, Aguirre, Spekk, La station Radar, Home Normal. Atkinson has performed extensively all over Europe/USA-CANADA with such artists as: Sun Araw, Grouper, Gabriel Saloman, Theo Angel and Hamish Gilmour, Mind Over Mirrors, Lee Noble. She is also involved in the duo Naked Island on the L.A based label Peak Oil (alongside Ensemble Economique’s Brian Pyle). Her new album, ‘A Readymade Ceremony’, will be out on Shelter Press during 2015.
2014: A YEAR OF RENDEZ-VOUS
Caption: Félicia Atkinson painting yogo balls during the preparation of her latest art show at Saprophyt, Vienna, last November.
New Year’s Eve, dancing with candles and flutes outside in the snowy mountains with my friends, the musicians and artists Mc Cloud Zicmuse, Anne Brugni, High Wolf, Marsh Cavern, Chicaloyoh and Bartolomé, my partner in life and in Shelter Press.
Anne Brugnu makes incredible colorful ceramics and drawings. She just published a children books with Mc Cloud called “bonjour”, published by L’artichaud, here is an image of it:
It’s a very sensitive book about natural phenomena and the marvels of earth. And here is an example of her vivid collages:
You can also hear Mc Cloud Zicmuse’ poetic words and music HERE.
Driving from California to New Mexico with Bartolomé. We also met a series of unforgettable artists. In Joshua Tree we walked among the prickly pears with Alexander Stewart and Lilli Carre. They are from Chicago and make very interesting minimalist animated films. Lilli is also an illustrator and ceramic artist. She exhibited recently at the MCA of Chicago. Here are two images of her sculptures:
Alexander made collaborative films with musicians from Chicago, such as Jeremy Lemos, who plays now in Acteurs and also with Disappears, two Chicago bands that I strongly recommend. I particularly like the specially designed EP Disappears published with the Belgian Sleeperhold publications with a silkscreen on the B-side by this young and talented Belgian photographer, Stine Stampers. You can see the design here:
Here are video stills of Alexander’s films ‘Peacock’ and ‘Power’:
In March Bartolomé and I did an exhibition, ‘The Last Frontier’, at this artist-run space in Basel called OSLO 10. They are also a music venue and there was a wonderful list of music shows during the exhibition, some with shelter press artists and some with people, even if we don’t publish them, we feel related to. One of them played at Oslo 10 in March 2014, it’s the French-Japanese musician Tomoko Sauvage who plays with water and bowls: a mesmerizing and meditative music.
April was a beautiful month in the Alps, with butterflies and flowers everywhere. On the 1st of April I invited Jennifer Tee, an artist from the Netherlands, to make a lecture at the art university I am teaching in: Annecy, L’ESAAA. I am a huge fan of her works that include: performance, sculpture and installation. Some examples of her works here, including her latest exhibition at Signal in Malmo:
In May I played a music show for Videoex Festival in Zürich with the experimental film-maker from San Francisco, Paul Clipson. I don’t know if you are familiar with his works, but he showed his films with a lot of interesting musicians from the Bay Area such as Grouper, Jefre Cantu and Barn Owl, who are all musicians that inspire me everyday. Here are some images of Paul’s films:
June was a month spent listening to Suzanne Ciani’s amazing re-issues by Finders Keepers.
In July I toured in Canada with the amazing Sun Araw and D/P/I. I feel like I learned a lot while seeing them playing and each of their shows was a source of joy. I recommend you to see them live and to listen to their latest album. I also played in Seattle with RM Francis that month, which was the occasion to discover his beautiful and smart music.
August was a month spent in Oregon. I always love Portland. It was great to hang out there with my friends and see very good shows and have such great vegetarian food. Then we spent some time camping at CAPE LOOK OUT before I recorded with my friend Peter Broderick. Stay tuned… the project will be called La Nuit and will be out next summer on Beacon Sound.
In Portland I bought a lot of records at Little Axe Records, Mississippi Records and Beacon Sound Records. One of my favorites is ‘Put No Blame On The Master’, a record of Jamaican gospel, published by Mississippi.
In September 2014 I did a mini tour in Switzerland with the amazing Gabriel Saloman, with whom we just published a record on Shelter Press. I recommend also his records on Miasmah and Infinite Greyscale. When he played in Geneva, it was so powerful that the sound engineer actually cried. We are all blown away. I also listened very much to the re-issues of K. Leimer on RVNG.
In October I saw Lieven Moana / Dolphins into the future and Spencer Clark / monopoly childstars playing also in Geneva, with wonderful visuals. It was like being in another time. Lieven is a kind of Caspar David Friedrich of modern times.
In November I played at Soy Festival where I had a chance to see playing some people I admire: Lee Noble, Noveller, Steve Hauschildt and Robedoor.
Do you know Lee Noble’s cassette labels NO KINGS? They do amazing artworked tapes that you should take an ear/eye at!
My highlight of December was feeding and meeting the neighbor’s little cat that love to visit us and watching VANISHING POINT by Richard Sarafian and CARRIE by De Palma. I also listened a lot to Valerio Tricoli album on PAN, Miseri Lares. And Bartolomé bought me this wonderful book by and about Robert Ashley, ‘YES, BUT IS IT EDIBLE’ published by New Documents.
THE END/THANK YOU!
Naked Island’s self-titled debut, the collaboration between Ensemble Economique’s Brian Pyle and Félicia Atkinson, is available now on Peak Oil. ‘A Readymade Ceremony’ is a forthcoming release on Shelter Press.
Cian Ó Cíobháin, An Taobh Tuathail (Galway, Ireland)
Cian Ó Cíobháin is the presenter of An Taobh Tuathail, a music show dedicated to promoting the very best in independent music. Cian’s show is broadcasted on RTÉ Raidió Na Gaeltachta on weeknights from 22.00 to midnight, Monday to Friday. Cian also compiles a series of compilations which are made available for free download. Presently, the An Taobh Tuathail compilation series is at volume 6 (they have this year been uploaded to Ó Cíobháin’s Mixcloud page HERE). Additionally, Cian DJ’s at 110th Street, Galway, with Cyril Briscoe. As of this year Cian Ó Cíobháin has also carved a name for himself as a specialist wedding DJ.
In January and February, I dipped my toes into English language broadcasting for the first time in eons, with a six-part series on Pulse about my ‘An Taobh Tuathail’ compilations. My thick-tongued mumbling were well received, in some instances it was the first time listeners were able to follow what I was saying on the radio. ATT was shortlisted for two awards this year. In April I visited the picturesque St. Ives in Cornwall for the Celtic Media Awards, then had a night to remember in Kilkenny in October at the PPI Radio Awards. The Lyric FM contingent were seated at our table and helped us to party with panache. The winners of both categories were utterly deserving. JJ O’Shea’s superlative ‘The Global Village’ took the gong in St. Ives and Ray Wingnut’s excellent documentary on the Community Skratch games topped the PPI list.
Two of the best DJ sets I heard this year happened at Ireland’s best off-the-radar summer festival (so secret that I’m afraid to even refer to it by name). A fine summer’s evening somewhere in deepest Longford, the intimate & enthusiastic gathering in convivial spirits, were treated to the DJ début of Roscommon-native Peter Casey who simply blew the roof off the place with a perfect festival set: a combination of bangers, anthems and sing-a-longs. Later on, underground Liverpool legend John Heckle showed what an outstanding DJ he is, reading the crowd perfectly, working some amazing disco basslines into his high-octane techno set…. Speaking of Scousers, following Liverpool last season was a riot. Sure they fell short, sure they may never win the Premiership, but what a gallant effort it was, playing some of the most scintillating football in Europe, which even Pep Guardiola tipped his hat to. Of course, we’re back to a level we’re sadly more accustomed to now, in the wake of Luis Suaréz migrating to warmer climes. In a peculiar way, like when the winter evenings begin to draw in, there’s almost something strangely comforting about being simply mediocre again. Almost.
In other sports, my native Kerry thrilled in their two game battle against Mayo in August before grinding out an unexpected All-Ireland victory in September (unexpected to everyone bar the team and management), ending a five-year Celtic Cross-less drought in the Kingdom. All this without The Gooch. Great to see Star poach an opportunist’s goal in the final. I was DJing in West Kerry a few years ago and he was right up the front urging the crowd to sing along to the words of Warren G’s ‘Regulate’.
Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Under The Skin’ was a haunting cinematic experience, made all the more powerful by Mica Levi’s superlative soundtrack. One of her featured compositions ‘Love’ is my tune of the year: somehow evoking ‘Loveless’-era MBV, Badalamenti and Bernard Herrmann. I only recently realised that the movie is based on a book by Michel Faber. I picked up his latest novel ‘The Book Of Strange New Things’, as endorsed by the wonderful West Cork-based author David Mitchell and have been in a trance reading it the past few days… Other movies I enjoyed this year were ‘12 Years A Slave’, ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ and I finally watched ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’. How had I ignored it up to now? Simply one of the finest movies I’ve ever laid eyes on. If only I could roll a cigar around in my mouth like Clint Eastwood. The original ‘Blondie.’
Summer 2014 was one of the most consistently summer-like summers in recollection, the rain seemed to bypass our island. How good was the vibe at ‘Body & Soul’ during the shortest nights of the year? It was my first time in attendance and I was bowled over by the genuinely magical, fairy-tale atmosphere. Galway legend Mike Smalle played a beautiful set under the trees, that weaved everything from Max Romeo to Nolan Porter to Hot Natured into its fabric. Mike was busy recording again this year, his first work since B-Movie Lightning, under the Augustus & John moniker collaborating with Matteo Grassi. Check out their excellent ‘Crosslines’ EP.
In late August, with the help of Galway’s Electric venue, 110th Street hosted a boat party on the river Corrib, where Cyril Briscoe & I were joined by Jon Averill and Sol O’ Carroll. Between the genial atmosphere on the boat, where everyone was best friends by the end of the voyage, followed by a hothouse atmosphere in the club, created by a combination of our guest DJs being on top form and the visiting influx of revellers, it was a day and night that will live long in my memory.
I read shed-loads of books this year but the two that stood out were ‘The Casual Vacancy’ by JK Rowling, a brilliant take on that peculiar and specific genre of ‘English village’ literature and ‘I Am Pilgrim’ by Terry Hayes, one of the most breathtaking thrillers I’ve ever read. Re-reading Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Portrait Of Dorian Gray’ was a great pleasure. Two evocations of hedonistic life in our capital city in different eras also provided food for thought. Anthony Cronin’s ‘Dead As Doornails’ recounts the lives of Patrick Kavanagh, Brendan Behan & Myles na gCopaleen in the pubs of post-war Dublin. The drinking and the poverty they endured to keep on drinking is utterly startling. Rob Doyle’s ‘Here Are The Young Men’ recounts a different Dublin, that of the early to mid-‘noughties’. If the pre-mentioned literary giants had access to the drugs that the characters in Doyle’s début novel binge on, well … the mind boggles at the consequences. Both books shine a torch into our nation’s gluttonous, booze-centric culture and reveal long, dark shadows extending well into the background.
The best TV show I saw this year was ‘Fargo’ but I was also impressed by ‘Boardwalk Empire’ (seasons 3 & 4), ‘Ray Donovan’, ‘Vikings’ (second season), ‘Love/Hate’ (which found its groove again – though I’d love to sort out their often incongruous soundtrack choices for them) and ‘The Fall’. Caught the first season of ‘Sherlock’ too, the opening episode was particularly good. I waded my way through most of the first season of ‘Game Of Thrones’ but was left cold by its clunky pace and prolixity.
My best nights DJing all happened at weddings. I was lucky to be invited by some remarkable people to play at their nuptials, more often than not in memorable, bucolic settings to intimate gatherings of sound heads. The atmosphere at these evenings were off-the-hook and has encouraged me to launch myself in the specialist DJ wedding market in the year ahead. So (here comes a plug) if you’re getting married and want to avoid the usually stodge, I’m available through cianociobhain.com or the One Fab Day site.
And what about the night the Sleaford Mods came to Galway? Like Gang Of Four, The Fall, Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins & Bez rolled into one Tour(ettic)-de-force. Middle-aged rock stars showing everybody else how it’s done. Proper.
Oh! One of my music moments of the year was when my truelove bowled me over by playing the soundtrack to ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’ out of the blue at a party last summer. I hadn’t heard it in decades and it completely transported me another place. Somewhere special, beyond mere nostalgia.
—Cian Ó Cíobháin
Seán Mac Erlaine (Dublin, Ireland)
The Dublin-based woodwind composer (saxophonist and clarinetist) and music producer Seán Mac Erlaine is one of Ireland’s best-loved musicians and composers. Mac Erlaine is also a member of the Irish/Swedish four-piece This Is How We Fly and has collaborated with numerous musicians in the past in both live and studio settings (The Gloaming, Bill Frisell, Lisa Hannigan, The Smith Quartet, Iarla O’Lionaird). This Is How We Fly had an extensive European and Irish tour this year promoting their remarkable debut self-titeld album (having been released at the end of 2013 via Playing With Music) while Mac Erlaine also released his latest solo album ‘A slender song’ via Dublin-based label Ergodos. Earlier in the year, Mac Erlaine contributed to the Ergodos-released ‘Songs’ album which featured numerous re-interpretations of songs by members of the Ergodos roster of musicians. In September, Mac Erlaine performed at Dublin’s annual Bottlenote Festival (which Mac Erlaine co-runs) for a site-specific “The Walls Have Ears” series of live improvisations.
Two thousand and fourteen began in an urban idyll: Prenzlauer Berg. Waiting on fingers to defrost to record a range of songs from John Dowland to Richard Thompson. That record, released a few months later, turned out to be a beautiful thing – listen to Michelle O’Rourke sing! Germany has a lot of saxophone players and a lot of dead saxophone players – I bought a sleeping beauty from a dusty shop – a Martin alto saxophone from 1968.
Nobody saw it coming but in February I made my dancing debut in Willfredd Theatre’s CARE, this was a great eye-opening process working with super people looking into the work of hospice workers.
I was very lucky to find myself lost in Pauline Oliveros’ near infinite reverb chambers in the company of fine musicians broadcasting live to the nation on my favourite medium, radio. More radio followed later in the year working with director Dylan Tighe on a new sound piece celebrating one of our favourite poets, the late Michael Hartnett. We poured many hours into this work and in every moment (almost) there was a richness that can only come when your two singers are the incomparable Nell Ní Chróinín and Iarla O’Lionaird.
Spending time with the three other members of This is How we Fly has been such a rewarding and important aspect over the last few years. In 2014 we got to play in France, Sweden and all over Ireland (Baltimore Fiddle Fair does seem in fact to be the best festival here!).
Other high points included: sharing the stage and shaking the soft, soft hand of maestro Bill Frisell… The honour of playing solo to many rooms of silent listeners over the year… Playing Bowie’s back catalogue in NCH with such a killer band… Walking around Cork City in the very early morning… Walking around the Lower East Side in the almost late night… Swimming through a lake in Northern Sweden at midnight watching the paling sky… Cycling thousands of kilometers through the mountains of Wicklow, the flatlands of Kildare and the streets of Dublin… Cycling a 180km round-trip to play a gig in a sauna…
I loved seeing Ger Wolfe sing in Dublin – gotta be one of the most honest songwriters out there these days. Steve McQueen’s ‘12 Years A Slave’ didn’t hit me quite in the same way his first two features did but this was a fine piece of work. Irish film-maker Pat Collins produced another beautiful work with ‘Living in a Coded Land’ and Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘Frank’ was superb. Contemporary fiction isn’t a strong point for me but I was astounded by the beauty of Tarjei Vesaas’ ‘The Ice Palace’, a Norwegian novel from 1963. Gabriel Rosenstock’s monumental collected poems ‘The Flea Market in Valparaíso’ seems to have slipped under the radar but that can happen easily. Richard Mosse’s work ‘The Enclave’ got a lot of lookers, it blew many of us away. Israeli choreographer Danielle Agami had me up out of my seat whooping after her dance piece as did Irish actor Shane O’Reilly’s piece ‘Follow’ in The Abbey Theatre. A great time for Irish music: The Gloaming album made many revolutions on my CD player (I hope they press it on vinyl!), seems to have classic album written all over it. Deaf Joe’s ‘From The Heights Of A Dream’ is refreshingly really going for something and presented so beautifully – strongly recommended. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Dan Trueman’s fiddle duo record ‘Laghdú’ (also presented as a highly covetable good) is a tender thing of beauty.
—Seán Mac Erlaine
‘A Slender Song’ is available now on Ergodos.
Kat Epple, Emerald Web (Los Angeles, USA)
Kat Epple has released 30 music albums internationally, composes music for film scores and television soundtracks, and performs live original music featuring synthesizers and flutes with her various ensembles, including the legendary “Space Music” band Emerald Web (comprising Epple and her late husband Bob Stohl), whose hugely influential music continues to impact music audiences worldwide through many recent re-issues. ‘The Stargate Tapes’ album was re-issued in November 2013 via Finders Keepers, and consists of music originally recorded from 1978-1989; earlier this year, Emerald Web’s ‘Whispered Visions’ has also been re-issued by Finders Keepers, while ‘Catspaw’, Emerald Web’s seminal recording (first issued by Larry Fast’s Audion label) will be re-issued by Anodize in January 2015.
Highlights of my year 2014 include: a concert for dolphins, ancient dead Indians, growling dinosaurs, and ‘Whispered Visions’. These events transpired as I concert toured, recorded new albums, did session work, archived old reel-to-reel masters, and enjoyed some amazing adventures!
“Legends of the Giant Dinosaurs” is a film for which I composed music, sound effects and Foley, for The Hong Kong Science Museum. The high-tech digital animation was projected onto a sixty-foot-wide HD screen with my music and sound effects in surround sound. I enjoyed creating the music, but especially making the sounds of the dinosaurs as they tromp, fight, and perish as a meteor strikes the earth. CRUNCH…….GROWL……..RUMBLE…….SCREAM………EPIC CRASH!
Playing native flute at sunset, on the top of a burial mound built by the extinct Calusa Indian tribe, may have been one of my concert highlights of the year. I felt as though their spirits were surrounding me, and softly singing. Now THAT is surround sound!
My favorite jam session happened one night as I was playing flute for a star-gazer cruise on a beautiful ship on the Gulf of Mexico. A pod of dolphins arrived, then surrounded the ship as they lifted their ears above the waterline, apparently to listen. They all joined in as they clicked, splashed, and squeaked along with the sound of my flute.
There has been a resurgence of interest in the music of my vintage synthesizer and woodwind band, Emerald Web. In fact, this year, our second album, “Whispered Visions” was released on vinyl LP, thirty-four years after its original issue. The master tapes had to be baked and archived after sitting on the shelf for decades. It was very moving to hear the music again after all those years, as it transported me back to the moment it was created so long ago. Music has the power to do that, especially when it is your own music!
I recorded acoustic tracks for a new album with World Percussionist, Nathan Dyke. I played World Flutes in the session, and am now in the process of overdubbing synthesizer tracks to the album. Yep……Thirty four years later, I am still pissing off the purists who don’t like it when I mix ancient primitive instruments and technology. Yay!
My session work on flute, EWI, and synthesizers for albums by a variety of musicians include: New Age pioneer Steven Halpern, enchanting folk musician Mariee Sioux, electronic guitarist Barry Cleveland, and legendary heavy metal guitarist Devin Townsend.
I did manage to get out of the studio once in a while to go camping, running on the beach, and to attend concerts, including King Crimson, the “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass” festival in San Francisco, and a variety of amazing house concerts.
I am grateful for the wonderful experiences that 2014 brought, and look forward to 2015 being even better!
Roll The Dice (Stockholm, Sweden)
Roll The Dice comprise the Stockholm duo of Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt, who released their hugely anticipated third LP this year, ‘Until Silence’, via the renowned UK-based independent The Leaf Label. ‘Until Silence’ sees a brave and intriguing shift in the duo’s sound (most noticeably with the addition of a 26-piece string section ensemble during the recording sessions with an even greater focus this time around on an intensity of emotion across an ever-expanding sound palette) while the conceptual framework of the album draws inspiration from World War One (the album’s title is inspired by a book on the period). To date, Roll The Dice have released a trilogy of monumental albums, beginning with their self-titled debut LP (Digitalis, 2010);‘In Dust’ (Leaf, 2011); ‘Until Silence’ (Leaf, 2014), confirming the Swedish electronic group as one of independent music’s most intriguing and compelling contemporary artists.
Tracks of 2014 by Roll The Dice:
Future – ‘Look Ahead’
The groove and the sample and the 123 /15 hi hat pattern. Lovely.
Aphex Twin – ‘Produk 29’
Surprisingly likable. As I haven’t been a big fan in the past, I had no “issues” with him putting out a new album whatsoever.
Vessel – ‘Red Sex’
Simple and to the point monotony as it should be.
Nils Frahm – ‘Says’
A bit cheesy in the best possible way. Reminds me about us…
Katy Perry – ‘Roar’
I have been force-fed this track every morning all spring by my 10 year-old daughter. A bit like a musical stockholm syndrome…I have fallen in love with my tormentor.
Gazelle Twin – ‘Anti Body’
Just found out about this record, totally feeling the attitude and impact of it. Really got a sound of it’s own which is pretty rare these days.
Klara Lewis – ‘Msuic II’
Klara is probably the artist that has had the biggest impact on me this year. It’s a real privilege to be able to work with such a unique and gifted talent.
DB 1 – ‘Nautil 1/3 B1’
The whole Nautil series on Hidden Hawaii is so amazing but if I have to pick a favorite from the 3 records this has to be it. Perfectly balanced and executed.
Surgeon – ‘Fixed Action Pattern’
The best techno 12″ this year from the best label, Token.
QT – ‘Hey Qt’
The PC music camp is the most punk of 2014. The fact that both my girlfriend and my 3 year-old daughter told me that it was the worst thing they ever heard me play at home makes me like it even more.
2014 Highlights Roll The Dice:
Putting out ‘Until Silence’ of course but also the fact that it turned out exactly the way we wanted.
Semibreve festival in Braga, Portugal: it was a delight to get to play in this beautiful old theatre where they have hosted the festival off the beaten track for several years. The organisers and everything surrounding this small and heartfelt festival was a delight.
My 10 week old Staffordshire puppy, Billie.
Being able to do what I do for another year, to be able to make music and do whatever I want is something I am truly grateful for.
The Swedish parliamentary situation which is going from bad to worse rapidly.
We all hope that the re-election in march will clear things up a bit, but as is now its just a farce, with very sinister undertones.
See Mal’s answer. One love, fuck fascism.
—Roll The Dice
‘Until Silence’ is available now on The Leaf Label.
Klara Lewis (Stockholm, Sweden)
Earlier this year marked the eagerly awaited debut full-length release from Swedish electronic artist, Klara Lewis, on the prestigious Editions Mego label. ‘Ett’ was recorded, sampled, edited, manipulated, mixed, produced and arranged by Lewis. A collection of four new works — contained on the sublime ‘Msuic’ EP — would later see the light of day on the Swedish imprint, Peder Mannerfelt Produktion (released on 12″ vinyl last November). ‘Msuic’ sees Lewis further expand the sonic envelope with her signature explorations of field recordings, electronics, rhythm, sound and atmosphere; confirming the Swedish artist as one of electronic music (and independent music at large)’s most exciting new talents.
My top albums:
‘Ett’ is available now on Editions Mego. ‘Msuic’ (12″ & Digital) is available now on Peder Mannerfelt produktion.
Seti The First (Dublin, Ireland)
Seti The First is the Ireland-based cello-led group comprising the songwriting duo of Kevin Murphy (cello) and Thomas Haugh (drums, marxophone, percussion). ‘Melting Cavalry’ was the band’s debut album, released in 2012 to widespread critical acclaim. The band’s distinctive sound draws inspiration from a wide number of diverse sources (Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, John Tavener, Henryk Gorecki, The Haxan Cloak). 2015 will see the highly anticipated follow-up to their mesmerizing debut, ‘Melting Cavalry’, entitled ‘The Wolves of Summerland’.
Kevin: It’s probably a question of tunnel vision but for me 2014 was all about finishing our second album which is called ‘The Wolves of Summerland’. We toiled relentlessly and finally put it to bed in December. It marks a bit of a departure from our first album ‘Melting Cavalry’ and therefore was a bit of a nerve-wracking adventure, however, we’re thrilled with the results. Cellos still provide the bedrock but there is much more frantic Marxophone and Zither leading the way; overall there is a more aggressive intend this time out. We had strong themes of unrest and revolution in mind––the dynamics of denial & delusion and the blindness to rising tides of societal upheaval among those in power; and of course, the recurrence of these things time and time again. So we focused on some extraordinary historical events, the rise and demise of entire empires and the regimes that followed, huge moments of passion, bloodshed, tragedy and melancholia. This became the canvas unto which we offered our wandering brush. In November we collaborated with visual artist Brian Kelly at the Cork Film Festival which took these ideas into the live arena, something we’ll hopefully further explore going forward.
Other than that, highlights of the year include playing on Adrian Crowley’s brilliant album ‘Some Blue Morning’. Myself and Seti’s live cellist Mary Barnecutt also played at Adrian’s launch in The Workman’s Club in Dublin which was a special night.
Thomas: Working on the second Seti album likewise dominated my year, rhythm made an unexpected return to my musical outpouring. As we got into the spirit of the music–with all of these big themes and ideas, it just became necessary to have that kind of foundation. It’s been a long time since I got behind the drums to really drive the bus, I just let it happen and it more or less flowed. Some new discoveries for me here too–the Persian Daf (drum), an incredibly versatile instrument. It’s a powerful and sacred centre piece in lots of Sufi music of which I’m very fond. Some Hurdy Gurdy made it on there too and I’ve loved that instrument since my teenage years when I first heard a Nigel Eaton album.
As for the music of others in 2014, Perfume Genius and Wildbirds & Peacedrums come to mind, both of which also took rhythm to new levels on their latest releases. Mica Levi’s incredible soundtrack for ‘Under The Skin’ thrilled me, also Grouper’s ‘Ruins’ and Arca’s ‘Xen’. Hildur Gudnadóttir’s ‘Saman’ took some time to settle with me but it was worth the effort. I also took some time to listen to the works of Ligeti–the music of whom most of us are probably familiar with through it’s prolific usage in films, music that is both terrifying and thrilling in equal measure. Not a bad aul year.
—Seti The First
‘Melting Cavalry’ is available now; its much-anticipated follow-up, ‘The Wolves of Summerland’, is due for release in 2015.
Adrian Crowley (Dublin, Ireland)
2014 marked the special return of Irish songwriter Adrian Crowley with his hugely anticipated (and career-high) seventh studio album, ‘Some Blue Morning’, via Glasgow-based independent label Chemikal Underground. ‘Some Blue Morning’ is the follow-up to Crowley’s masterful 2012 Choice Music Prize nominated ‘I See Three Birds Flying’, and features contributions from Seti The First’s Kevin Murphy on cello; Dublin-based songwriter Katie Kim on vocals and members of London string ensemble Geese, amongst many more.
Oh, and speaking of London, I’m brought back to a late night taxi ride with my sister. It was late September. We had hopped in a cab in Hammersmith and didn’t speak once all the way to Woolwich Arsenal where our younger sister lives. Why didn’t we speak? Well, we both suffer from car sickness and we had just been on a pilgrimage, you see, and were still trying to process the three hours or so that had just passed. I’m talking about Kate Bush. Kate Bush at Eventim Apollo. The opening bars of ‘Running Up That Hill’. Now there was a moment.
But that was the night there was a power outage on stage before the show was due to start. We, the audience, sat waiting for around 50 minutes. At one point when the house lights went up, we all thought the show had been cancelled but a few minutes later Kate is onstage telling us matter-of-factly and down-to-earthedly that “it had been sorted”.
I managed to see a lot of great concerts. Bill Callahan at the Olympia, Dublin in February. Cat Power in July, also at the Olympia. Eels at Muziekgebouw, Eindhoven for Naked Song festival. I was playing at the festival and I managed to duck in behind the sound desk an watched the whole concert (at the end of the concert Mark jumped off the stage and went around the entire auditorium giving hugs to everyone in his path before ending up back on the stage to play an encore).
My Brightest Diamond at The Workmans Club. Shara Worden’s voice is incredible and it was so great to finally see her live. Violinist Cora Venus Lunny played an astonishing improvised set at her album launch in The Grand Social in Dublin. The National at The Iveagh Gardens in Dublin. Speaking of the Iveagh Gardens, I got to see some great comedy there… namely Eddie Pepitone.
Albums released in 2014… I really loved ‘Brothers and Sisters of The Eternal Sun’ by Damien Jurado and wonderful albums by Cora Venus Lunny, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Kate Ellis, Tindersticks, Einsturzende Neubaten, Marissa Nadler… I’m sure I’m missing others and I’ll probably kick myself later.
Well, my own album came out towards the end of the year…early November. I had a kind of belated album launch at The Workmans Club on December 12th. I am pretty confident that was the favourite gig of mine in 2014. I had been rehearsing with the twin cellos of Kevin Murphy and Mary Barnecutt, and also with Katie Kim who sang on more than half of ‘Some Blue Morning’. It felt so good having Katie, Mary and Kevin on stage with me not to mention my good friend Matthew Nolan who plays guitar on ‘The Wild Boar’ when we perform it live (just saying “plays guitar” feels like a gross understatement, though, considering the vast soundscapes he conjures).
Other favorite live moments from the point of view of the stage were the Daylight Music event at Union Chapel with Katie Kim (it just so happens it fell on the Summer solstice. I remember waking up that morning at 4am to the near deafening sound of birdsong from Hampstead Heath. It was quite something). Explore The North Festival in Leeuwarden, Netherlands was special too. That was in a church also, a Lutheran church with a lot of history. Oh, singing some David Bowie songs in The National Concert Hall in July was much fun.
And there was a special show that I was invited to be a part of during the East Cork Early Music festival. Justin Grounds and Ilsa de Ziah who play baroque violin and baroque cello respectively rearranged an hour-long set of my songs which we performed together at L’Atitude for a late night show. It was the first time I sang my songs on stage without playing an instrument. It felt like a new discovery. What incredible musicians. Also sharing the stage with David Thomas Broughton, Roddy Doyle, Mark Andrew Hamilton of Woodpigeon at the Golden Factories event for Young Hearts Run Free at St. Michians Church was quite special.
In theatre… I saw the final show of a seven-day run of ‘A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing’ performed by Aoife Duffin. She was incredible. It was intense and staggeringly impressive. I wondered how long it must have taken her to unwind after giving so much.
This Is The Kit played in the engineering library of The National concert Hall as a part of the Brassland weekend there in December. Well, that was a beautiful show but equally sweet was having them sing happy birthday to my five-year old daughter in the hallway of my house at 7:30am before they rushed out the door to catch the ferry to Holyhead. I hope they didn’t miss it.
‘Some Blue Morning’ is available now on Chemikal Underground.
David Westlake (London, UK)
The Servants formed in 1985 in Hayes, Middlesex, England, by singer and songwriter David Westlake (Luke Haines would later join The Servants in ‘87). Their unique blend of poignant lyrics, intricate arrangements, and utterly compelling indie-pop sounds was a world away from the mundane and noisy lo-fi scene heralded by the NME’s C-86 compilation the band would later appear on. ‘Small Time’/‘Hey Hey We’re The Manqués’ re-issued double album is available now on 2CD via Cherry Red and on double LP via Captured Tracks. David Westlake’s ‘Play Dusty With Me’ will be re-issued next year by U.S. independent label Captured Tracks.
2014? Deficit, devolution, free movement, Remembrance, Crimea, Ebola, ISIS, One Direction, Rolf Harris. But you know all this already. My 2014 – I got married, I played the NME C86 show, and first time since 1991 I played music with Luke Haines.
I am 49, so the best 2014 music release is unsurprisingly a reissue. It’s the Kevin Ayers Original Album Series five-disc set. The award for best latter-day recording (that I’ve heard) goes to Morrissey, from whom the very existence of new work is always an event. Cherry Red Records reissued C86 in 2014. I am on the compilation, but I always hated that song. Captured Tracks Records will issue my album ‘Play Dusty For Me’ in April 2015. Highly recommended.
Best book of 2014 has to be ‘Coming Up Trumps’ by Jean Trumpington. Multitudes of dull and deluded people trot out self-satisfied memoirs nowadays. Many can claim worth only as purgative toilet-seat reads. ‘Coming Up Trumps’ earns its right to exist – a remarkable life winningly told. Aurum’s paperback selection of John Betjeman newspaper pieces, ‘Lovely Bits of Old England’, is a treat.
Best film – ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’. Impeccable in every respect. Ralph Fiennes delivers a tour-de-force performance. Tenacious and good as Leslie Howard’s Scarlet Pimpernel. Or Anthony Valentine as Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman. There’s one for the teenagers. Someone would have to have a pretentious heart of stone not to love ‘Paddington’, too.
Memorably best new TV – Andrew Graham-Dixon’s BBC documentaries on Paul Nash and William Sickert, with the centennial focus on World War One. Most momentous TV – a repeat in March 2014 of a 1979 episode of ‘Top of the Pops’. Momentous because my wife was on-screen in the audience, then aged 14. Who could have known that thirty-five years later we would be thanking our lucky stars that the presenter she found herself standing next to that week was blameless Mike Read?
‘Play Dusty For Me’ by David Westlake will be re-issued by Captured Tracks (LP & CD) on 18 April 2015. ‘Small Time’/‘Hey Hey We’re The Manqués’ by The Servants is available now on Cherry Red Records (2CD) and on Captured Tracks (2LP).
K. Leimer (Seattle, USA)
For the third installment in Brooklyn-based RVNG Intl.’s archival series, the tape is wound back to 1970s Seattle, home place of ambient music pioneer K. Leimer. ‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975 – 1983)’ unearths unreleased portions of Leimer’s vast archives and highlights the work of a self-taught visionary whose use of generative compositions ferried his music to infinite resonance. Kerry Leimer was born in Winnipeg, Canada. He was raised in Chicago before his family permanently settled in Seattle in 1967. This year’s ‘A Period of Review’ heralded one of 2014’s most prized re-issues. K. Leimer’s forthcoming full-length player, ‘The Grey Catalog’ will be released on Palace Of Lights in January 2015.
It’s odd that highly obscure music, written and recorded more than 34 years ago, would matter in any way at all today. So despite performing again and completing and releasing a few albums on our little label, much of the past year was spent talking and writing about the germinal work that was assembled as ‘A Period of Review’. Which made 2014 seem more like 1979 to me. But between bouts of studio time and grappling with miles of tape there was some remarkable listening: Gudnadóttir’s ‘Saman’; the Jakob Ullmann ‘Fremde Zeit’ / ‘Addendum’ box; Taylor Deupree’s ‘Faint’; David Sylvian’s ‘There’s a light that enters…’; Nils Frahm’s ‘Screws’; and A Wing Victory for the Sullen’s ‘Atomos’. impossibly rich diversity and innovation. And now wrapping up the year with ‘Different Every Time’, a book that’s unevenly written but compelling all the same. And the recording — especially important to me because it includes Wyatt performing one of the ‘Experiences’ by John Cage from a record, also thirty+ years old, originally issued on the Obscure label. Now if i could just find the piano pieces from that same document! The free hours that remained were given over to compiling another reissue, based on ‘The Neo-Realist’ (at Risk). A compilation for my fake rock band Savant which will be released in the first half of 2015. Titled ‘Artificial Dance’, it seems set to guarantee that my experience of 2015 will seem more like 1982. But beyond the solace and joy of such sustained musical innovation and accomplishment, the overriding experience of 2014 remains the naked violence and injustice that my country visits upon so many people. Our own citizens routinely and unjustifiably killed by police; The published and redacted details of the Bush administration’s torture program; pornographic levels of wealth set beside unprecedented income inequality; blanket denials of our shared environmental crisis. Just who is meant to be left solvent and able to purchase the refrigerator magnets and iCrap that drives most of the culture?
‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’ is available now on RVNG Intl.
Matthew Collings (Edinburgh, UK)
Matthew Collings is a Scotland-based composer. In addition to his solo recording and live output, he collaborates regularly with artists from disparate backgrounds, including musicians Dag Rosenqvist from Jasper TX and Denovali label-mate Talvihorros, dancers and filmmakers. 2014 marked the release of Collings’ new sophomore full-length, ‘Silence Is A Rhythm Too’ on the prestigious German-based independent label, Denovali Records.
Has been another year of slow growth. I spent much of the year wrestling with the idea of Edward Snowden. Realising that my work is much better off with other people, and made with other people…and so am I.
It saw various births and deaths of beautiful people who I will miss and look forward to getting to know. I wonder what role I will play in people’s lives.
This year saw a furry of releases – a beautiful vinyl/photobook with Elin Svennberg, the dark yet uplifting pop of Graveyard Tapes, and a new record in ‘Silence is a Rhythm Too’ and a re-release of ‘Splintered Instruments’ on Denovali. 2015 will expect the Snowden monster to rear it’s head, as well as a record with Dag Rosenqvist which I’m finishing right now.
I’ve been incredibly lucky this year to meet so many amazing, inspiring people. The thought of them keeps me positive when I start to complain about my place and position in the world, which I really have no ground to do.
I’m a very very lucky person.
Some music to listen to this year: These New Puritans, Ben Frost, Talvihorros, Numbers are Futile.
Here’s to 2015 ; chasing sound, not chasing my tail.
‘Silence Is A Rhythm Too’ is available now on Denovali.
Sophie Hutchings (Sydney, Australia)
‘White Light’ is the latest collection of mesmerising piano music from Sydney-based composer and pianist Sophie Hutchings. Beginning with 2010’s debut ‘Becalmed’, the gifted composer has crafted her unique blend of neo-classical, piano-based compositions, which would later be followed-up with the spellbinding ‘Night Sky’ LP in 2012. Both records are available now on the Australian independent label, Preservation. Hutchings is currently working on her third studio album – and follow-up to ‘Night Sky’ – which will be released in 2015.
Does anyone get nostalgic as midnight creeps towards the closing of a year, the beginning of another…… Reminiscent. Looking back over years, contemplating life…….
As a child I often created a sacred moment as the year wound down. Preparing for the approaching strike of midnight, setting up the record player with one of mum or dad’s records. I took life very seriously! Always allowing a moment over midnight to ponder over life… And so we should…… Casting our minds back and then casting it ahead in view of a new beginning.
I often start the year with the goal of uncomplicating my life. Uncluttering my brain… Simplfying and yet as weeks and months go by, slowly or quickly enough, the complicated starts to work its way back in. Whether it be the things in your life or the things you fill your mind with…
There was a lot of creative purging this year associated with writing the new album.. The highs and lows that come with that and life in general. So as I venture down the beautiful south coast of Australia this week, and make my way through the diverse landscapes of Myanmar in January, I want to remind myself of a basic fact. The simple things in life can offer so much contentment…
A boundless vast ocean, lying under a star lit sky, or gazing into an open fire……..Things like these..
I’m going to press the reset button and see how it goes for me this year ….
Inspiring Highlights of 2014:
Reads and Watch:
First read of 2014 – Donna Tarts ‘The Goldfinch’ one of the best contemporary authors to date. Her compelling narratives lead to not being able to put the book down!..
‘Tracks – The documented Solo Journey of Robyn Davidson’ (also known as ‘The Camel Lady’) through the Australian West Desert. The cinematography and soundtrack by Garth Stevenson created for the actual film was also a highlight.
Reading Solzhenitsyn’s contemplative and symbolic story ‘The First Circle’ depicting the lives of a secret research development made up of Gulag inmates set in Moscow. His sayings and philosophy on life pack some punch… Indeed an author to respect.
I watch so many movies so this is a hard one, but first one that comes to mind is Lao film ‘The Rocket’. It wasn’t released this year but was a standout for me. After living in Laos for sometime, Kim Mordaunt (director) was inspired to write the film whilst working on the documentary ‘Bomb Harvest’, and discovering Laos was the most bombed country on the planet, per capita. Two young children play the main characters in the movie, both whom had never actually acted before. It was a really inspiring film and gives insight to a country that has suffered at the hands of war.
I wanted to watch Béla Tarr’s 8 hour epic film ‘Satantango’ this year and it’s on my film hit list for 2015! There’s some beautiful shots HERE from it set to one of my all favourite composers Arvo Pärt.
I’ve been embracing a few new musical eras and genres. 60’s Vietnamese rock, Gamelan and also Turkish singer songwriter Fikret Kızılok!…
Also, ‘Open’ by The Necks was on high rotation.
Cleaning the house to this year’s Liars release ‘Mess’.
Touring with Ólafur Arnalds…
Creatively purging and mapping out the journey for the new album which will continue into the new year…….
All the best to everyone’s start to 2015.
‘White Light’ is available now as a free download via Bandcamp HERE. ‘Becalmed’ and ‘Night Sky’ are out now on the Preservation label.
To read Part 1 of Don’t Look Back, click HERE.
To read our Albums & Re-issues of 2014, click HERE.
With very special thanks to all the wonderful contributors for their contributions.
Wishing all our readers a very happy new year and best wishes for 2015.