The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘The Great Balloon Race

Ten Mile Stereo

leave a comment »

Ryan Francesconi & Mirabai Peart ‘Road To Palios’ (Bella Union)
A collaboration between two gifted musicians; Francesconi’s immaculate acoustic guitar playing and his partner Peart’s beautiful violin. Francesconi is also a key member of Joanna Newsom’s band and his own solo LP ‘Parables’ is among the finest albums of recent years. ‘Road to Palios’ is a life-changing journey.

Oliveray ‘Wonders’ (Erased Tapes)
This gem was put out a few years back by Berlin-based label Erased Tapes and continues to reveal more with every single listen. A stunning collaboration between Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick (Olive and Ray are the authors’ middle names) includes two incredible covers, of Tiny Vipers (‘Dreamer’) and Efterklang (‘Harmonics’).

Cheval Sombre ‘Mad Love’ (Sonic Cathedral)
Cheval Sombre is the pseudonym for New York-based Christopher Porpora, a poet-turned-musician whose debut self-titled lp was released in 2009. Cheval Sombre’s ‘Mad Love’ album was one of the hidden gems of last year. A beautiful and rewarding collection on the Sonic Cathedral label.

Nat Birchall ‘Sacred Dimension’ (Gondwana Records)
Dubbed ‘Spiritual Jazz’, I picked up Birchall’s (a UK-based saxophonist)’Sacred Dimension’ lp somewhat by chance (via the always-trustworthy speakers of Plugd Records). ‘Sacred Dimension’ is an incredible odyssey of an album and provides a moving experience for the listener.

The Great Balloon Race ‘Cardboard’
‘Animals Burning’ is the album-opener from this very talented Cork-based band whose debut album ‘Cardboard’ was released at the end of last year. Ambitious and complex. A Band with a very bright future indeed.

The Dodos ‘No Color’ (Wichita)
I First discovered The Dodos by their ‘Visiter’ Album; a wonderful showcase of the talents of this American duo; Meric Long and Logan Kroeber. Now, on their fourth album – ‘No Color’ (Witchita Records) – the band will soon embark on a European tour supporting Tucson Arizona’s Calexico.

Broadcast ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ OST (Warp)
The stunning soundtrack by Warp’s Broadcast for the equally-stunning second film by British director Peter Strickland. Like all things Warp, the soundtrack should be purchased on vinyl to get the optimum benefit of the amazing sleeve.

Nils Frahm & Anne Müller 7fingers (Erased Tapes)
Collaboration between Berlin-based musicians and friends; Frahm and Müller. Anne Müller’s cello is breath-taking while Frahm’s immaculate attention to detail on production duties are on full display here. Electronica and cello combine to stunning effect.

Birds Of Passage ‘Highwaymen in Midnight Masks’ E.P.
Birds of Passage is multi-talented New Zealand-based artist Alicia Merz. Across all her LPs to date (‘Dear And Unfamiliar’, ‘Without The World’, and current ‘Winter Lady’) her music is simply breathtaking. Also, in her stunning back-catalogue is the ‘Highwaymen in Midnight Masks’ EP. Mastering duties by Nils Frahm.

Hidden Highways ‘Hidden Highways’ E.P. (Out On A Limb Records)
The stunning debut self-titled E.P. from Tim V. Smyth and Carol Anne McGowan recalls the magic chemistry of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood recordings, while equally reminiscient of the dark folk tales of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. The E.P. features the incredible cover of Jeff Alexander’s ‘Come Wander With Me.’ Hidden Highways’ debut album will be released in Spring 2013 and is sure to be one of the albums of the year.

Something’s Going On: Conflux

leave a comment »

Conflux Limerick is happening on Saturday 17th November, and comprises a feast of music with 20 bands performing across 4 stages at 2 venues; Bourkes Bar and The Blind Pig/Dr John’s. The lineup features some of the most promising and exciting Irish acts in recent years: Rusted Rail’s Cubs, Aine O Dwyer, Driftwood Manor and The Great Balloon Race.

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


This supergroup of Irish musicians are rooted in the folk tradition and take it further, pushing the sonic envelope, creating new horizons of sublime beauty. Free folk for the 21st Century, where the tradition of folk music is intertwined with the fabric of cinematic soundscapes and beguiling field recordings. Cubs is truly a wonderful and precious thing. Their latest release ‘Willowfield’ (Rusted Rail, 2012) and ‘The Whispering Woods’ (Rusted Rail/DeadSlackString, 2010) are quite simply the best independent releases from Ireland for years and years. Listening to Cubs’ music allows escapism of the truest kind. The warm textures, sonic wonder, spontaneous sparks and divine melodies fuse together, creating Cubs’ wholly unique folk sound. Planxty, Bert Jansch, Anne Briggs, John Fahey, Mark Kozelek can be heard, dotted across a landscape of cinematic wonder and psych delight. One listen to Cubs and the listener instantly becomes transfixed. Cubs will perform their first gig of 2012, and their first in years at the Conflux festival, Limerick.

Aine O’ Dwyer

I was late in discovering Aine O’ Dwyer’s music. It was the home of the Second Language label where I (indirectly) came across this gifted musician. Last year’s treasured gem ‘I Lived In Trees’ by Mark Fry and The A. Lords was my avenue into Aine O’ Dwyer’s beautiful music. The harpist adds dreamy soundscapes to the A. Lords’ divine tapestry of warm, pastoral sounds. Soon, I discovered more collaborations on the same label-from Piano Magic to The Cloisters. Plugd introduced me to O’ Dwyer’s ‘Music For Church Cleaners’. An album of church organ music performed by Aine in St Mark’s Church, Islington. The spiritual music possesses this meditative power throughout with melancholic shades of colours. Amazing. I can’t wait to see Aine O’ Dwyer in concert and playing directly after Cubs, the prospect is simply mouth-watering!

The Great Balloon Race

The Great Balloon Race are one of the most exciting bands emerging from Cork for quite some time. I love the feel of their songs-this hidden dimension is tapped into. I see them sharing the spirit of Grizzly Bear, with their mesmerizing song cycles of progressive harmonies and immaculate arrangements. ‘Pockets’ is sublime. The song builds with multi-layered harmonies, percussion and gorgeous guitar tones. ‘Grog’ is a divine jazz exploration that echoes Tortoise. I simply can’t wait for their debut album, to be released in a few weeks time. A truly great band.

Driftwood Manor

I saw these guys perform live in Plugd, Cork a few months back. Their special blend of folk and traditional music encompasses worlds of sound, from psych folk to traditional music forms. Similar to Cubs and the Rusted Rail roster of talents, boundaries are blurred and truly transcendent music is lifted from the underground. On the band’s most recent release, ‘A Cross Atop A Hill’, Eddie Keenan’s songcraft and musicianship is wonderfully on display. The title-track contains drifting piano melodies amidst field recordings. ‘The Crossing’ is an epic folk opus. Layers of guitars, banjo and bouzouki are plucked and strummed beneath Keenan’s glorious baritone.

Phantom Dog Beneath The Moon

As with all things Rusted Rail, this is yet another compelling sonic venture from the west. Phantom Dog Beneath The Moon is the collaboration between Aaron Hurley and Scott McLaughlin. The band experiment with many sounds and styles-indie rock, shoegaze, folk, intertwine in their compelling creations.

The artists mentioned above are just five of the twenty or more acts that will perform on the day from 3PM to 2AM. (22 Acts, 4 Stages, 2 Venues, 1 Day)

Conflux Limerick is happening on Saturday 17 November 2012.

Written by admin

November 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm