Adrian Crowley will release his eighth album Dark Eyed Messenger his fourth for Scottish label Chemikal Underground on October 6th this year.

‘The Wish’ is the lead-track from the album, which over 11 songs finds Crowley ditching his guitar at the suggestion of producer Thomas Barlett (The Gloaming). It was recorded with Barlett in his New York studio over four days.

“Day one set the rhythm for the week. I’d make coffee while Thomas switched things on. I’d name a song and we’d listen to my demo of it. Thomas would play it on the piano or Mellotro n and I’d sing. We’d do a run through. He’d hit record. And then another song and another. He’d say, ‘Let’s do a scratch vocal’ so I’d do a take. But soon we realised my scratch vocals were final takes. By day four we had 11 songs recorded.”

His last album was Some Blue Morning in 2014.

Artwork Galway-based visual artist Louise Manifold.

Posted on July 24th, 2017

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Anna Calvi, Sam Amidon, Thomas Bartlett, Robert Forster of The Go-Betweens, NYC cabaret performer Justin Vivian Bond, Cathal Coughlan of The Fatima Mansions and Microdisney,Adrian Crowley, writer Pat McCabe, and more are to take part in Blood & The Moon at the National Concert Hall where artists will interpret the work of W.B. Yeats.

The show is being curated by The Gloaming’s Thomas Bartlett and Pulitzer-winning poet Paul Muldoon and takes place on on September 13th and 14th. There will also be new commissions from composers from Nico Muhly and Benedict Schlepper-Connolly and live imaging by Tom Kalin.

– New versions of Wild Swans At Coole, Down By Salley Gardens and Lake Isle of Innisfree by Sam Amidon

– Robert Forster new songs based Crazy Jane poems

– Cathal Coughlan’s new arrangement of The Cold Heaven

– Cathal Coughlan and Thomas Bartlett’s new version of Easter 1916

– Nico Muhly’s new piece Byzantium for solo piano and soprano Daire Halpin

Blood & the Moon: A Provocation on Yeats is for sale from €32.50+fees from National Concert Hall or Tel: 01 417 00 00.

Posted on August 21st, 2015

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Irish traditional music is a stranger to me. It’s always been. I’ve a cursory knowledge of some jigs, reels, sean nós, and some of the history of it but not much. As a Dublin kid and a Kildare teen, I wasn’t surrounded by it. My family didn’t play it or participate in it, save for my dad playing Planxty’s ‘Cold Blow And The Rainy Night‘ on cassette to us kids and some other records that were played on occasion. Trad seemed very much tied to places much more rural, more Irish, than I frequented.

That partly explains why I’ve never really delved into it. I dived too deep into other worlds of music to care for much of my life. Trad was accepted by me was a bedrock of Irish culture and I left it at that. It exists, it helped to define our place in the world, but it did not belong to me. It was old, I was young.

So when positivity and excitement poured from that world into mine and I wrote about these exciting things, I was quickly put in my place as a disrespectful unknowning fool. Admittedly, my less-than-precise choice of wording in the headline was always likely to upset the more knowledgeable but my intentions were noble. Here was music I had not really crossed paths with (dismissed would be too strong) peeking its way into my world, and as am I want to do, I zealously wanted to share it with others.

That experience left me slightly intimidated by my lack of knowledge about it. So much so that I didn’t broach the subject much more nor did I delve further. Small increments perhaps but nothing sweeping. Yet, the world of trad and my own, are increasingly poking each other, the latest coming from the album of the groups mentioned in that post, The Gloaming.

If I was to define some of values of music I love (not just like), one of those characteristics is the new: new ideas, new angles, new sounds, new techniques, new visions and new twists on old sounds. I think that explains why trad hadn’t reeled me in (ahem). I’m wired in a thirst for now, music that represents how I live, that mirrors me, that forges its own path, rather than immortalises those that have gone before it.

Watching the South Wind Blows documentary on The Gloaming broadcast on RTE a few weeks ago, fiddle player Martin Hayes echoed that thirst by referencing a desire to cast aside the shackles of tradition, to sidestep expectations (“I had to play music that I knew he couldn’t like,” he says in reference to his father P.J.), established restrictions in musicianship about how things were meant to be (“I had to approach it in ways that some people would find it offensive,” he says) and to make music that had a modern context (“You can’t be self-referential all the time. It has to reference itself against other music. The reality is that we do exist in the wide open world.).

Those self-imposed challenges over the years lead him to to form The Gloaming, a group featuring two other Irishmen: singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh, playing his hardanger fiddle (a special instrument of Norwegian origin with eight or nine strings rather than four) and two Americans, the guitarist and frequent Hayes collaborator Dennis Cahill and American pianist Thomas Bartlett (who the documentary reveals was an obsessed fan of Cahill’s music from the age of 10, and who booked a live show for him in Vermont when he was 11).

The Gloaming does create new ideas in old ones, by gelling the different experiences of the players. “I don’t recognise the lines that the rest of this band sees,” Bartlett says in the documentary. “They’re very happy to go outside of those boundaries, but the fact that I don’t even know the tradition helps make them disappear.”

The Gloaming album isn’t really “trad”, but it is charged by that sphere. The traditional sounds are clearly there but they’re incorporated with new textures. ‘Allistrum’s March’ has an traditional Irish melody supported by circling piano. The opener ‘Song 44’ begins with Bartlett’s delicate and pensive piano introduces Ó Lionáird’s gentle vocals which in turn, makes way for each of the other instruments and strings to build around the tune in suspense. It starts in one genre and ends up in a combination of a few.

The longest song ‘Opening Set’, taken from the band’s first live performance is a microcosm of the creativity that binds the players with each member getting a spotlight and the song building to a dizzying climax.

There are distinct experimental explorations. ‘The Girl Who Broke My Heart’ uses a contemporary classical dynamic space to explore a musical conversation between the two types of fiddle. On ‘The Sailor’s Bonnet’, Hayes deconstructs a well-known reel into fragments before reincorporating it with the full band. ‘The Old Bush’ has echoes of ambient contemporary minimalism as the two fiddles wheeze and drone in loose pattern with each other across seven minutes before they reconcile with the help of Cahill’s simple guitar encouragements.

The highlight, ‘Freedom/Saoirse’ holds contemporary and experimental textural characteristics in one five-minute song. A hypnotic piano establishes an elegance, Ó Lionáird’s expressive vocal follows the piano melody, the fiddles furnish the song with emotional strings and adds an ambient resonance.

The Gloaming achieves a spacious temporal glow. Its evocative arrangements let the tunes breathe between the players, using familiar language in what feels like fresh ways. It communicates with the outside world from Cork to Clare to Vermont to Chicago to Norway and beyond. It has a context in that wide open world and does something delicate with the weight of history that informs it. By satisfying my taste for new ideas on old music, The Gloaming makes me feel a little less of a stranger in my own land too.

The album is streaming for a short time on NPR.

Posted on January 17th, 2014

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