The presenter of long-running underground music show RnaG’s An Taobh Tuathail, Cian Ó Cíobháin has compiled a collection of music for mass consumption off the airwaves regularly over the last ten years, many of which have featuredhere in the past.
Volume 8 of the series echoes the changes in music since its inception as it’s now available as a Spotify playlist.
That also means it’s more expansive than ever and is a more varied 5-hour collection of music of all stripes – electronica, folk, psychedelia, ethereal R&B & neo-classical. 1/6 of the songs are from Irish artists like Mount Alaska, Seti The First, Ryan Vail, Or:la, Clu, Natural History Museum, Elma, Chequerboard and Deaf Joe, while international acts like Forest Swords, Julianna Barwick, Gold Panda, Carla dal Forno, Mogwai, AFX and Arab Strap also feature.
“I love to discover a song or a piece of music that I’ve never heard before, whether old or new. The unwavering thrill of discovering an amazing song that I’ve never heard before is what gets me out of bed every morning. I’m also quite evangelical about sharing my finds with other people which is why presenting a radio show such as ATT, as well as compiling anthologies such of this, of my favourite tracks, may well be my most natural job-fit.”
An Taobh Tuathail is broadcast Monday to Friday at 22:00 on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta. The shows earlier in of the week are relatively laidback, but as the weekend draws closer the tempo picks up and the shows become clubbier/more electronic in tone. You can listen back to shows and get all the playlists at www.rte.ie/rnag/an-taobh-tuathail .
Last summer, Cork-based Ellen King sent me seven of her most recent compositions, four of which are just about to drop on her ‘Romance EP’ on Art For Blind. Every single one of these tracks sent ripples through my life. I have no idea how many hours she has spent in the studio honing her craft, but to hear such carefully crafted & emotive outsider techno already sounding so perfectly formed has established her as one of the era’s most enthralling artists. The meticulous attention to detail in her sound design evokes Laurel Halo or Actress on top of their game. She’s already that good.
I know it’s impossible for even the most dedicated music lover to keep on top of listening to all the new releases, but when conversations regarding ‘album of the year’ came up at Other Voices in Dingle recently, I was aghast that nobody seemed to have heard of ‘Interior Memory’, the latest album from Dublin-based Rollers/Sparkers, a band who seem to be happily existing completely off the grid. I’m not sure how accurate this description is, but when prompted in Dingle, I speculated that the music sounded as if the band had spent their life locked in a room with no sensory stimulation, bar ‘The Wicker Man’ movie, post-punk’s broodiest records & the entire Can back catalogue. This is possibly the most immediately accessible track on what I should hope will come to be regarded as one of the all-time classic albums.
Italian girl-boy duo followed up their first ever two releases on Optimo Trax some months back (firstly a split EP with Muslimgauze, followed by a solo EP) with an extraordinary album at the tail-end of 2016. ‘Invito Alla Danza’ is one of my albums of the year. Loosely playing with house/techno forms, they also draw from other sources, most notably on the breakdown of this track: where hope-springs-eternal ambient textures from the dawn of the first summer of love mingle with ethnic vocal samples from sun-baked deserts, sounds that are magically manipulated into a track that should bring a thrilling sense of mystique to the most dead-eyed dancefloors. Oh, and just listen to those drums!
Bjarki R.Sigurdarson hails from Iceland, but is based in Copenhagen, where he’s been forging a treasure-trove of incredible tunes over the years, many of which have been picked up by Nina Kraviz’ Trip Recordings label (he released three LPs this year). Aphex Twin is the first obvious reference point when it comes to listening to his music: most notably in the song titles (a hodge-podge amalgam of digital media-speak, eastern European cold-call phone numbers & incorrectly spelt words), but also in the way he effortlessly fuses beautiful melodies to jackhammer beats. His take on techno sounds a tad more streamlined that Richard D James’ break-core demolitions but is also more attuned to how to work a dancefloor. This sounds like the kind of record you might embrace at a rave of at the end of a long Arctic winter, just as the first rays of sun return to the outer peripheries of the northern hemisphere.
So two precocious, teenage girls from Norwich somehow managed to write one of the pop songs of the year. It’s rare that such a complex pop song managed to sound so nonchalantly breezy. The slowly unfurling neo-psychedelic intro, which gives very little hint of what’s to follow, evokes the mechanisms of The Boo Radleys’ classic ‘Lazarus’ . When the kick-drum and vocals eventually drop, you would be forgiven for thinking you were dancing to a young Kate Bush in the first giddy throes of passion with the sounds of woozy folk and Balearic disco. They even manage to pull off a cheeky rap with aplomb. This is a record teeming with the confidence of youth. I would give anything to find out what records these ladies have grown up listening to.
* Honourable mention: Blood Orange – Desirée
Andy Stott – Too Many Voices
Ever since his low-slung, slow-techno days, every new record by Manchester producer Andy Stott has been received with particular gusto in this household. This is the title track (and the stand-out song) of his latest essential long-player and effortlessly sits Alison Sidemore’s vocals (redolent of ‘Hounds Of Love’ era Kate Bush or Bjork) astride a New Age backdrop, a potent reminder that we should perhaps find time to revist Enya’s old records with fresh ears.
February & Mars – Secret Storm At The Edge Of Night
I’m bending the rules slightly with this one as it was released at the tail end of 2015 on German label Mojuba Records, but I only became aware of it earlier in the year, in spite of the record being made here in Galway, where I live, by Jack Considine and Carl Rumberg and produced by John Daly. The production brings to mind Tusk-era Fleetwood Mac, but it’s the vintage synths that lends the record a timeless feel. The song-writing and arrangement is faultless and once you’ve fallen under this song’s spell, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it.
The Not Not Fun label, based in California, have been on the money all year. Umberto, Delicate Features and Ssaliva all released wonderful LPs on NNF this year, but the stand-out release for me came was an album called TTNIK from Laura Hill, Brisbane’s “dehydrated disco” queen, who records as Scraps. This breathless slice of lo-fi, sun-bleached synth-pop recorded in her home studio – think: John Maus or John Foxx producing The Go-Betweens – has stopped me in my tracks more often than most songs released in 2016.
This was easily the biggest track for me when DJ-ing this year, whether in clubs, festivals or – no word of a lie – even certain weddings. Robert Hood lifted his vocal sample from a 1977 disco record, Brainstorm’s ‘Lovin’ Is Really My Game’ and scattered his magic glitter all over it, until lo & behold, we had yet another joyous Floorplan techno/disco anthem that brought so much cheer to dancefloors this year. Then, cool as you like, like most of my favourite artists, he didn’t even bother to include it on the final tracklist of Floorplan’s 2016 LP ‘Victorious’, which also hoards an indecent arsenal of disco bombs.
Aphex Twin’s most recent work may not have been received with the same fanfare as his trailblazing work of yore, but I’ve been bewitched by some of his most recent output and this cut from the ‘Cheetah’ EP is one of my tunes of the year. That insidious, mournful riff that asserts itself half-way through the tracks wormed itself into my dreams this year. Listen carefully. Then have a nap.
While the likes of Grandmaster Flash, Booka Brass Band, Interskalactic play the Block party outdoors and Kelly-Anne Byrne and Dmitri In Paris have a disco ball upstairs, the Tony Ryan room on Sunday June 26th will feature:
DJ Cian Ó Cíobháin (Midnight – 1:30pm)
A stalwart of Irish radio for the last 17 years through his show on RnaG An Taobh Tuathail, Cian is one of Ireland’s finest DJs (110th Street in Galway) and selectors and he doesn’t play Dublin enough.
Solar Bears (live A/V set) – (10:30pm – 11:30pm)
After three albums of on Warp Records, Planet Mu and Sunday Best, Solar Bears have confirmed themselves as Ireland’s most cinematically-driven act taking in wistful Boards Of Canada-style electronic ambience, krautrock, library music, psychedelia and tough synthesizers. The Interlude show will be a live A/V set. Check out their recent Boiler Room mix for an idea of what to expect.
Bantum: Prince A/V set (9pm – 10pm)
Ruairi Lynch is a huge Prince fan who has played his own unique take on Prince tracks live in the past. At Interlude, Lynch will air his specially remixed and mashed up tribute to the Purple One with visuals by LeTissier.
The Galway electronic pop producer with the fiddle in tow recently followed up his debut album with this smash featuring Sinead White – ‘Love’s On Top’.
Adultrock (7pm – 7.45pm)
With a new release on Bodytonic this week, Gavin Elsted is pushing the analogue buttons of electronica with his hazy widescreen dancefloor productions which take inspiration from John Talabot and a hardware-heavy recording ethos.
Cian Ó Cíobháin is the man behind the long-running An Taobh Tuathail radio show on RnaG every Monday to Friday from 10pm to midnight. His Galway club night with Cyril Briscoe 110th Street just turned sweet sixteen. The dude is also available for weddings.
As for the show, there will be two ATT Christmas specials broadcast on Christmas Eve and Christmas day from 10pm to midnight.
In the meantime, here are his choices for his songs of 2014.
From her extraordinary Under The Skin soundtrack to Jonathan Glazer’s film, this gauzy-dreamy, otherworldly composition is easily my tune of the year. It somehow evokes Loveless-era MBV, Angelo Badalamenti and elements of Bernard Herrmann’s film music. I only recently discovered that the movie is based on a book by Michel Faber. I am currently engrossed in his most recent novel ‘The Book Of Strange New Things’.
2. HTRK – ‘Give It Up’
Over a minimal, slow-mo, low-slung groove emerges that beautiful fragile voice. The refrain ‘This time I’m gonna love you much better’ is pregnant with regret and lost opportunity. Not to mention a hint of menace that’s bordering on the sexual. Ballard would’ve approved.
3. LesLord – ‘Dave Toole’
Last year poet Marcus Mac Conghail wrote a poem called ‘Ceol Baile’ (home music), where he embarks on a road trip while listening to my radio show. His observations are punctuated by my music selections and commentary. Earlier this year, he sent me a recording of himself reading the poem and asked was there anything I could do with it. I contacted two producers, one being Dubliner Les Ó Dochartaigh, who is one of our most imaginative sound-magicians. He got the go-ahead from the poet to “rip it up” whatever way he wished to. I was naturally apprehensive that I wouldn’t like the end product, having gone to the trouble of asking him to work with the recording. My fears were short-lived. I would go as far as to say as it’s one of his finest works. It really is an astonishing piece of sound art. I love so many things about it, including the plaintive piano that weaves its way into the track’s closing moments. It’s available on his latest LP Uimhir A Dó.
Footnote: Dave Toole, by the way, is how one or two non-Irish listeners who contacted the show over the years, addressed me, having misheard the words ‘An Taobh Tuathail’. One listener in the UK emailed me wondering if this was the first ‘meta’ ATT tune. I suspect it could be.
4. Aphex Twin – ‘minipops 67’ [120.2][source field mix]
My first reaction upon hearing his comeback track was one of relief that, thankfully, it didn’t tarnish his flawless reputation. Then I got more into it. Finally, there came the dawning that it simply is one of the tunes of the year on account of its complexity, its simplicity and its proud, beating (mini)pop heart.
5. Ariel Pink – ‘Not Enough Violence’
It’s so hard to pick one track out of Ariel Pink’s breathtaking new album, as I’ve only been listening to it a few weeks. The album is simply breathless with ideas. Some of the best tracks ‘Lipstick’, ‘White Freckles’, Black Ballerina’ – in the spirit of ABBA – contain so many riffs that lesser artists might never think to conceive over entire careers. However, I’ve gone with this one. It plunders – perhaps for the first time in music history – from a treasure trove of influences, that includes Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’, The Cure, the intonations of Andrew Eldritch from the Sisters Of Mercy, Robert Wyatt, the dynamics of the kind of techno championed by the Berghain mafia, the drums from ‘Running Up That Hill’, vintage BBC Radiophonic recordings, sky-scraping shoegaze & 80s power-pop. Ariel Pink is my magpie of the year.
6. Augustus & John – ‘Crosslines’
Produced in Galway by Mike Smalle (he of B-Movie Lightning / Cane141 infamy) and Matteo Grassi, this is a subtle, light-as-a-feather approach to timeless electro-pop, much in the vein of ‘Ghost Trains’, Erlend Oye’s collaboration with Morgan Geist a few years back. Criminally ignored by most people, the Crosslines EP should be on everyone’s listening devices. Oh, and for the record, neither of the composers had ever heard the track ‘Ghost Trains’, until well after this tune was mastered. Or so I’ve been assured.
7. Plaid – ‘Nafovanny’
Another comeback album from giants of Warp’s towering back catalogue. This track is my highlight off Reachy Prints. From the plaintive note that appears, seemingly out of nowhere, at 2.30, into the sky-scraping riff that follows it – simultaneously both melancholic & joyful – this tune sums up the temporality of all things. Like doing your utmost to lose yourself in the beauty of the finest summer evening, but knowing the experience will – by the immutable laws of physics – only ever be fleeting.
8. Loric – ‘Under Sharer’
Techno at its most psychedelic. This track is alive with ideas. That sublimated disco vocal that occasionally swims to the surface before sinking again beneath that wall of drums. I’d wager it’ll still sound fresh in a decade’s time.
9. FKA twigs – ‘Two Weeks’
The lady has her detractors, certainly in the circles that music snobs habitually frequent, but – it has to be said – this is probably one of the best songs ever written about having sex while high on drugs.
10. Kode9 – ‘Pink Sham Pain Down The Drain’
From the Hyperdub compilation ’10.3’, here’s a track that somehow everybody managed to ignore this year. Kind of in the vein of the Mica Levi track I mentioned, it has that ethereal, quite-not-there quality that has me instantly scrambling to hear it again as soon as the last precious note gently peters out.
01. o.utlier – Get High Skit 02. Jamie xx – All Under One Roof Raving 03. Aphex Twin – minipops 67 [120.2] [source field mix] 04. Airhead – Macondo 05. Tony Lionni – Found A Place 06. Gui Boratto – Joker (Michael Mayer Remix) 07. Martyn with Four Tet – Glassbeadgames (8 Hours At Fabric Dub) 08. Phil Weeks – Super System (Joy Mix) 09. Mosca – Done Me Wrong 10. Clark – Unfurla 11. SCNTST – Ghetto Youth 12. Dense & Pika – Colt 13. Carl Taylor – Debbie’s Groove (Robert Hood Remix) 14. Loric – Under Sharer 15. Andrés – New For U 16. Caribou – Can’t Do Without You
Cian Ó Cíobháin’s An Taobh Tuathail, the RTÉ RnaG alternative music show of note is celebrating 15 years on air on May 1st, an impressive feat indeed.
Ó Cíobháin will be marking the occasion with a special broadcast and like in 2011, the man is asking for your favourite covers of all-time for the 15th birthday show.
You can send your requests in to him at [email protected], Facebook or Twitter. The only stipulation is it can’t have been featured before (see below for a list).
Here’s one of my favourite all-time covers of a Big Star tune by a Swedish musician Kendal Johansson, who we’ve not heard from since. It gives me shivers every time.
Full list of previously played covers
Al Green / Light My Fire / The Right Stuff [The Doors] Balanescu Quartet / Autobahn / Mute [Kraftwerk] Banjo Or Freakout / Archangel / banjoorfreakout.blogspot.com [Burial] Big Ned / Paint It Black / Optimo Music [The Rolling Stones] Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Tortoise / Daniel / Domino [Elton John] Brothers Johnson / Strawberry Letter 23 / Maverick [Shuggie Otis] Calexico / Alone Again Or / City Slang [Love] Ciccone Youth / Into The Groovey / Blast First [Madonna – Into The Groove] Devo / Satisfaction (I Can’t Get Me No) / Virgin [The Rolling Stones] Emmylou Harris / Wrecking Ball / Grapevine [Neil Young] Iron & Wine / Such Great Heights / Sub Pop [The Postal Service] James Blake / Limit To Your Love / Atlas [Feist] Jose Gonzalez / Heartbeats / Peacefrog [The Knife] Joy Division / Sister Ray / Factory [The Velvet Underground] Junior Boys / When No One Cares / Domino [Frank Sinatra] Katzenjammers / Cars / Red Hook [Gary Numan] Lali Puna / Together In Electric Dreams / Morr Music [Phil Oakey & Giorgio Moroder] Langley Schools Music Project / Space Oddity / Setanta [David Bowie] LB / Ashes To Ashes (Digital Spacepop Replicant) / Output [David Bowie] Linus Loves / Hold Me Closer / Breastfed [Joy Division – Decades] Mechanical Bride / Umbrella / Transgressive [Rihanna] Mr Hopkinson’s Computer / Where Is My Mind? / Wonktronic [Pixies] Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds / The Carnival Is Over / Mute [The Seekers] Pixies / Evil Hearted You / 4AD [The Yardbirds] Primal Scream / Darklands / Creation [The Jesus & Mary Chain] Rebekah Del Rio / Llorando / Milan [Roy Orbison – Crying] Rickolus / Ceremony / iamrickolus.com [Joy Division / New Order] Schneider Tm V Kpt.Michi.Gan / The Light 3000 / City Slang [The Smiths – Thers Is A Light That Never Goes Out] Senor Coconut Y Sun Conjunto / The Robots (Cha-Cha-Cha) / Multicolor [Kraftwerk] Sonic Youth / Superstar / A&M [The Carpenters] Susanna & The Magical Orchestra / Condition Of The Heart / Rune Grammofon [Prince] The Breeders / Happiness Is A Warm Gun / 4AD [The Beatles] The Carpenters / I Can Dream, Can’t I? / A&M [Tamara] The Cramps / Lonesome Town / Zonophone [Ricky Nelson] The Fall / Lost In Music / Permanent [Sister Sledge] The Fall / Victoria / Sanctuary Midline [The Kinks] The Field / Everyone’s Got To Learn Sometime / Kompakt [The Korgis] The Futureheads / Hounds Of Love / 679 Recordings [Kate Bush] The Hope Blister / Sweet Unknown / 4AD [The Cranes] The Kindness / Swinging Party / Moshi Moshi [The Replacements] The Memory Band / Why / Peacefrog [Carly Simon] The Parsonage / Love Will Tear Us Apart / Oscarr [Joy Division] The Slits / I Heard It Through The Grapevine / End Recordings [Marvin Gaye] The Young Gods / September Song / PIAS [Walter Huston] This Mortal Coil / Song To The Siren / 4AD [Tim Buckley] This Mortal Coil / You And Your Sister / 4AD [Chris Bell] Tiga / Hot In Herre / Skint [Nelly] Tim Chaplin / Only You / 23 Seconds [Yazoo] Tindersticks / Here / Island [Pavement] Wall Of Voodoo / Ring Of Fire / Domino [Johnny Cash] Whomadewho / Satisfaction / Gomma [Benny Benassi feat The Biz]
Cian Ó Cíobháin is the man behind the long-running An Taobh Tuathail radio show on RnaG every Monday to Friday at 9pm. You may have also heard his annual ATT mixes, the last of which was featured here a few weeks ago. He’s a regular DJ at Galway’s 110th Street. His show is one of the best alternative shows on the FM airwaves we have left so there’s no better man to ask for his top 10 tunes of 2013.
Chequerboard – ‘Today Is Beautiful, We Have Things To Do’
John Lambert is king of bucolic, twilit, instrumental music vignettes that quietly nestle their roots deep in the unconscious. Since hearing it for the first time, I’ve been tuning into on a daily basis – as crucial to my wellbeing as that first cuppa in the morning.
Laurel Halo – ‘Sex Mission’
Easily the most hypnotic, mind-melting piece of avant-garde techno I heard this year, from the genius that is Laurel Halo – one to happily get lost in & never find your way home.
My Bloody Valentine – ‘In Another Way’
It was a straight choice between this, or the fabled once long-lost d’n’b track ‘Wonder 2’, but this is quintessential MBV with a heart-wrenching/uplifting (that delicious tension between both emotions, that can verge towards however you feel at a particular time) hook to die for.
Ikonika – ‘You Won’t Find It There’
Played to death on ATT last summer, this lady’s sumptuous tune is constructed from bleeps, bass and grandiose swathes of synth, with a healthy injection of pathos to engage the heartstrings … not to mention an unpredictable structure to challenge the moves of the most jaded of disco dancers. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the sub-bass. Immense.
Mount Kimbie – ‘Home Recording’
If you wanna woo the affection of your beloved, stick this on a mixtape: no need for flowers, poetry or fancy restaurants.
Boards Of Canada – ‘Reach For The Dead’
Their new LP may have not earned the plaudits of previous albums (give it another chance!), but this beguiling track is up there with the finest in their expanding oeuvre.
Dean Blunt -‘Demon’
Ex or current (depends on what you read) Hype Williams man made one of the most unashamedly emotionally bare LPs of 2013 and by doing so inadvertently shaped himself into a modern day Arthur Russell-figure. All heartbreak, no hubris. ‘I’ll come home early next week’ was possibly one of the most romantic refrains that I heard in a song in a long time.
Charli XCX – ‘Grins’
Perhaps the most exhilarating pop-song of 2013. Mark my words, this talented young lady will soon be ubiquitous.
Blondes – ‘Andrew’
Spend time with this one, I mean really spend time with it and you will not be disappointed. Yes it has a 4/4 kick, but I prefer to listen to it lying down with my eyes closed. Preferably as dawn breaks.
Mssingno – ‘XE2’
The world had high hopes for Rihanna when ‘Umbrella’ came out but it’s been all downhill since then. Here’s something that finally fills that emo-r’n’b-dream-void.
Cian Ó Cíobháin has reached volume 6 of his now annual compilation / podcast that represents what he’s been playing on his excellent An Taobh Tuathail radio show on Radio na Gaeltachta, Monday to Friday from 9pm til 11pm.
The man from the west is offering a 19-track compilation as one neat package featuring music from Halls, Bibio, Laurel Halo, Shed, Lee Gamble, Set The First and a blast from the past – The Plague Monkeys.
1. Perc – Before I Go 2. Halls – Winter Prayer 3. Heathered Pearls – Left Climber 4. Them Use Them – Hearts Dangle (Slow Dancing) 5. Laurel Halo – Thaw 6. The Plague Monkeys – White Feathers 7. Bibio – You Won’t Remember . . . 8. goodbyeworldhellouniverse – The Only Way Is On 9. Servent – Items To Lament 10. Lee Gamble – Overund 11. Fuewa – Blhock 12. Shed – Phototype 13. Lukid – USSR 14. Dean Blunt – Demon 15. Cubs – Taken To The Bed 16. Seti The First – Melting Cavalry 17. Airhead – Callow 18. Jóhann Jóhannsson – They Imagine the City Growing Out Into the Ocean 19. Ekin Fil – On Vanity