This is a piece on the For Those I Love original release on Bandcamp before its subsequent release on XL Recordings.
For those who paid attention to the creative outliers in Irish music, Burnt Out was a project that brought a previously unseen level of creativity to the landscape of Irish art, a brutalist expression of living through the recession that predated the current zeitgeist of Irish guitar bands currently making headlines locally and internationally.
Burnt Out was raw and monochrome, a multimedia project that was as transcendent as it was shortlived. It was sadly left unfinished with the passing in February 2018 of Paul Curran, the poet and musician who was one of the driving forces behind the band.
Grief is a disease that clings to everything once it engulfs. It’s a spectre that no-one else can see as the mundanity roars on. Time passes, but it takes something with it, and never fades.
While For Those I Love wasn’t conceived as a product of grief, as a close friend, David Balfe’s one-man project For Those I Love and its self-titled album, serves as tribute to his friend’s legacy (Balfe was also a fellow-band member of Curran’s in Burnt Out) and explores the desolation and pain in the aftermath of such great loss. How can life go when yet everything has changed? A way to cope is to respond with the art that bonded you in the first place.
The music on the debut nine-track release from For Those I Love was started well before Curran’s passing, but there’s a similar blazing energy at play throughout that echos the borderless breakthrough of his friend’s art. It’s an uncompromised expression which started “as a message to closest friends and family of the artist,” and took on greater meaning with a close friend’s passing.
Echoing the work of Burnt Out, For Those I Love is informed by “the traps set by class and outlook, and the path of self destruction we often walk in the wake of tragic loss… the societal harms that lead our young people into vulnerable states.”
Whittled down from 76 recorded songs, the chosen nine on the For Those I Love release aren’t dirges, it has upbeat rave euphoria, cathartic spoken word, dense swirling productions, samples from friends and songs that mean things between them.
It references The Streets, The Blaze, “that Mount Kimbie video we’d always watch”, A Lazarus Soul, Grogan’s Pub, Twin Peaks and embodies summer evenings with friends, innocent nights talking shite, arms around your friends at a festival, getting up to no good, and the small moments that are insignificant until someone great is gone.
These songs echo warm nostalgia of youth, pain in loss, past lives and good times, which could be shared with no-one else. For Those I Love opens its heart, in loving and living memory.
Says Balfe of For Those I Love:
“As a creative who’s greatest relationships are those also tied to the art, much of my life has been self archived. The bedrock of this album is built upon samples of our whatsapp recordings, our interviews, our video footage and our old music. The question of why is scattered across not just the 9 songs, but the release itself.
Why share this album now? The truth is that at times, the art and each other is all we had.
Our identities so entrenched by what we created.
How else do you honour and thank an artist? But with the art itself.
For you, brother.”