Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Griff says; Reflections from the echo chamber.
We're back in the exciting and slightly crazy world of Irish experimental music today. Those of you who've hung around the Streetlamp for a long time will remember how excited I was back in 2010 when I unleashed Mariel McCormack and Marie O Hara on you (see 'here').
Well, with the release this month of the 9-song album Echo by Niamh de Barra I'm finding myself reaching the same sort of levels of hysteria (Gordon - "Oh, please God, no!").
Niamh de Barra is a classically trained pianist and vocalist from Dublin who has been making music for quite some time now. From 2002, she was part of the now defunct improvisational group John Mary Trilogy, during which period she took up the cello, which now features prominently in her work. In 2008, the band broke up and Niamh began her solo career, initially under the moniker Scurvy Lass. Since returning to her own name, she has released two EPs, ‘Cusp’ (2010) and ‘Below The Sea’ (2012) both of which are avaialable as free digital downloads from her bandcamp page. It was the latter EP which brought her to my attention as it was released on Scotland's own, excellent Black Lantern Music free netlabel. I was really struck by the innovative methods she used to record the tracks on this, layering and looping the vocals and instruments to make something which sounded both traditional and yet completely modern. With this latest release, Niamh employs the same distinctive style, slowly building the songs by layering different textures, to deliver a masterpiece of gothic, folktronica experimentation.
I'm predicting that if you enjoyed recent Streetlamp recommendation Muscles of Joy (see 'here') you'll enjoy this. The other obvious musical reference point is de Barra's compatriot Laura Sheeran.
I'm embedding a couple of songs below for your delectation. Firstly, here's Spooked, a song which manages the odd combination of being both creepy and witty. As its subject matter is riding your bike at night it serves as a nice counterpoint to our recent musical offering on the same subject from Capybara (see 'here'):
Hope you enjoyed that - and musicians aspiring to gain Streetlamp coverage take note; nothing gets you on the Streetlamp quicker than a song about cycling.
Next, here's The Machine, a song which examines the incredible destruction wrought by the deadly loosening of the ravaging forces of free-market capitalism and rather honestly notes de Barra's failure to recognise this during the so-called boom years:
Hope you enjoyed that. The opening lyric asks:
"We say, "Fight Back", but how do you fight the PR machine?
How do you fight against a shadow or an oil-slick?"
The answer, of course, is by forming affinity groups based on the principles of libertarian socialism - but then you knew that already.