Musicians on Film Fierce Mild // Feature Dublin’s Burnt Out Discuss their Origins Primer featuring Illustrator Sarah Bowie // Track Record Belfast DJ Venus Dupree ISSUE #012 | MARCH/APRIL 2016 | FREE
– Lynched: Folk the System – U
E U R LT
W I T H
M U S I C M U S I C & &
O L A L
L B A L O B A L O
A C C A C C E N T
DIE HEXEN // J COWHIE // EMZEE A // THEE PENNY DREADFULS // SOLAR BEARS KATIE LAFFAN // THE BONNEVILLES // OAKS // SOUNDS OF SYSTEM BREAKDOWN
Pentabus Theatre Company and Salisbury Playhouse present:
'Intriguing two-hander in which a fractured landscape finds its echo in a couple's marriage' The Stage
A new play about fracking and relationships by SiĂ˘n Owen
Touring to Coleraine, Omagh, Derry/Londonderry & Belfast 6â€“9 April 2016 Details at www.pentabus.co.uk/thisland
Foreword / Contents Editor Brian Coney firstname.lastname@example.org @brianconey Deputy Editor/ Photo Editor Loreana Rushe email@example.com Art Director Stuart Bell @stubell_ Reviews Editor Eoin Murray firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover photo: Aidan Kelly Murphy
Guide Editor Stevie Lennox email@example.com @stevieisms Contributors: Aaron Corr Aaron Drain Aidan Kelly Murphy Brian Coney Aoife Dooley Brian Mulligan Cathal McBride Colm Laverty Conor Callanan Conor Smyth David Turpin Dean Van Nguyen Eoghain Meakin Eoin Murray Garrett Hargan Vincent Hughes Helen Warner Joe Laverty Jonathan Wallace Justin McDaid Loreana Rushe Mark Earley Melanie Mullan Michael Pope Mike McGrath Bryan Noel Anderson Ruth Kelly Sara Marsden Steven Rainey Will Murphy
Doing It To Death Inadvertent or Otherwise uickly skimming through our final page plan for this, our grand twelfth issue, back in March, we were a little tickled to notice that the theme for two of our regular features – Not Gospel and Agony Uncle featuring Le Galaxie’s Mick Pope – centred around the ultimate bummer of all themes: death. Disregard the deeply transmissible, wonderfully progressive cultural and social art and spirit of the likes of Burnt Out, Fierce Mild and cover stars Lynched, guys: here’s a whole lot
of reflection on nothingness forever. But of course, this inadvertent doomfest (made entertaining and philosophical by their respective authors) is entirely at odds with how we’re collectively feeling at TTA Towers right now. Indeed, set to team up with the boundlessly tasteful team at Be Kreativ from our next issue onwards, we’ve some extra exciting creative hap� penings, features and schemes in the works for 2016. In the mean� time, enjoy this issue and pass on the good word. Brian Coney
Contents Photos Of The Month �������������� 4 Projection ����������������������������� 5 Insert Coin ���������������������������� 6 Inbound �������������������������������� 8 The First Time ���������������������� 12 Stacks On Deck ��������������������� 13 Feature: An Áit Eile ��������������� 14 Track Record ������������������������ 18
Feature: Lynched������������������� 20 Feature: Burnt Out ���������������� 24 Primer: Sarah Bowie ������������ 30 Reviews: Releases ����������������� 32 Reviews: Live ����������������������� 34 Not Gospel: Death������������������ 36 88mph: The Fall �������������������� 38 Agony Uncle ������������������������� 39
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– Photo of the Month
Photo of the Month Aaron Corr
Joanna Newsom, Olympia Theatre, Dublin Image: Aaron Corr
ach month our photo editor Loreana Rushe selects one standout gig image from our fantastic team of hard-working photographers. Loreana: You can see Joanna Newsom really enjoyed the gig and Aaron managed to capture her elegant nature, not only in this photo but throughout his set. The lack of harsh lighting accentuates the complimentary shades of ochre and purple, creating a very natural portrait.
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Aaron: This was an all seated show with a two song limit so I could only shoot from the sides and not get too close to the stage. The lights were consistent and there was no need for dry ice, low light, harsh colours or strobes; a rarity for a gig photographer. Taken on a Canon 7D with a Canon EF70-200mm f2.8 lens at 1/160, f2.8, ISO 1600.
The First Cut Is The Deepest: The Witch and The Survivalist
ome films are improved by a Friday night high street audience. A glacial paced folk horror fable about a demonic goat, spoken in ye olde Renaissance dialect, is not one of them. A second viewing confirmed the bril� liance of The Witch, but it's a difficult sell for the average moviegoer. Robert Eggers' debut is an artfully constructed look at supernatural terror and religious funda� mentalism, centred on a family of New England Puritans in the 1630s, expelled from their plantation for being too pious, who come under attack from some hos� tile � possibly Satanic � forces. Their infant is snatched, the crops fail, and they turn on each other. For a debut feature it is remarkably sure of itself; elegant and un� hurried, a bubbling cauldron of dread that builds to an ecstatically perverse finale. The film calls to mind another recent terrific debut, The Survivalist, written and directed by Derry�born Stephen Fingleton, starring Martin McCann as a post�crash recluse eking out a bare existence in Bal� lymoney woodland. An Irish anti�Western
about the brutal realities of life on the land, it offers a devastating expose of libertarian�doomsday frontier fantasies. Both films are agrarian in setting, make strong use of natural light, proceed in a carefully controlled pace and are commit� ted to realism (or a version of it) in plot and production detail. Crucially, one shared quality of the films is a clearly identifiable authorial vi� sion; an unwillingness to compromise in order to court the mainstream. There is a commercial as well as aesthetic rationale to this, one touched on by Fingleton in a Q&A I attended in Belfast: it's a count� er�punch against larger, better�financed studio movies. To break through the pop culture din you have to do something memorable and singular. If you're a small film with a limited distribution and marketing budget, you can leverage your idiosyncracy to catch the attention of festival juries, reviewers and cinema pro� grammers, and build a reputation among those paying attention. In a parallel universe there is a jump� scare The Witch and a gun�em�down The Survivalist, where we don't get to see McCann wanking into a plant pot Be� cause Recycling. But how quickly would they get lost in the multiplex shuffle? I see more films than most people, but every week I'm skipping anything that doesn't jump out. Maybe these movies make modest profit. Maybe they get some hopeful hovers on Netflix. But these are low stakes to play for. Eggers and Fingle� ton bet on the intelligence and patience of their audience. And even if they lose, they get to make amazing cinema. Not a bad deal. Conor Smyth Conor Smyth is editor of BelfastFilm.net
Projection The Witch and The Survivalist
March/April March/April 2016 2016
Insert Coin With Vin McCreith
Soundtracking Games with Vin McCreith
– Insert Coin
s one third of legendary trio Adebisi Shank, Vin McCreith pushed the boundaries of music. Their frantic sound may have been built on a wash of influences and innovations but the impact of videogames was pretty clear, not least when the Gameboy came out during their live shows. Flying solo Vin’s Rocky IV Reckyrd was a declaration of love for a bygone era of video game music. Full of in�jokes, trib� utes and playful replication that could only have come from a lifetime racking up hours on the classic consoles. So it seems almost manifest destiny that the lauded and awarded musician would find himself in the industry mak� ing music for some of Irelands most cele� brated recent games. ‘It's an exciting time to be involved in this stuff in Ireland, the talent pool is pretty ridiculous for such a small island and there's a ton of brilliant studios making cool stuff.’ He’d know after working with studios like SixMinute and Studio POWWOW. “It's always a collaboration. From the early abstract conversations about vibe and emotion to fine tuning the final mix to help the SFX cut through, and everything in between � I'm constantly adjusting based on feedback from the team. It's a painstaking process but so bloody satisfy� ing when it all starts fitting together.” But is there a difference between mak� ing music for videogames and everything else? “For me personally there's never been any kind of division between the two. Maybe it's because I fell in love with music via video games, it's all just
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mushed together in my brain now, I can't really think of one without the other. It’s like a marriage! But a good marriage.” As a veteran gamer he can trace his influences from the Commodore 64 (“it used to take about ten minutes for a game to load so you'd just zen out listen� ing to the loading music”) and it’s telling that when asked to track the marriage back to its roots that he chooses The Wasteland from 1982’s The Last Ninja; a mad�as�a�bag�of�spiders medley by the prolific Ben Dalglish. A track noteworthy for hammering against the technical lim� itations of the day. Nowadays technology allows for an unlimited scope, something Vin is con� sidering, ‘I definitely see the orchestra in my future now; I have the contacts, it's really just a question of budget.’ From award winning games like ShipAntics to production/mixing with high profile bands like All Tvvins it seems Vin has hit a sweet spot. “I've learnt so much in the past 2 years from all the amazing people I've worked with and I'm actually making more music than any one band could ever produce. I'm feeling really really fulfilled creatively, and more con� nected to music than ever. Don't listen to the doomsayers � it's probably the best time in human history to be a musician. There's more opportunity now than there ever has been. You just have to get out there and grab it.” Check out Vin McCreith’s music and production work at vmcsound.com or keep in touch @vmcsound.
& Lavery’s present
Doors 8pm £5
I N C L U D E S E N T RY TO G I GA N T I C C L U B A F T E R G I G
Inbound DIE HEXEN
– Inbound –
either he, nor she, but it. Both one and many; a neutral entity, fluid in definition. The physical embodiment of DIE HEXEN seems less important than the overall impact of the myriad strands in the bow – sight, sound and the supernatural coalesce; Liszt sits alongside Lynch, the triumph of the synthetic over the organic, and vice�versa, played out through dark am� bient swathes of experimental electro and visual artistry. These evocations come from a sur� realist and baroque spectral presence, androgynous and impenetrable, filtered through a kaleidoscope of cultural experiences and influences: a western European upbringing, the north of Ire�
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land; the draw of an almost�indefinable form of Japanese art theatre, Butoh, the dance of darkness; a pop�cultural melting pot where Bergman, Bowie and Grace Jones meet Scott, Besson and Hazel O’Connor. It’s a fascinating meld of the otherworldly and the pastoral, rooted in tradition but stretching to the outer cosmos – a fantastical, singularly executed sci�fi contradiction. All at once DIE HEXEN channels the esoteric, intangible nature of sound and vision and the tactile physicality of Butoh and costumed performance art; a visually startling enigma often at odds with the opaque music that hints at Gigeresque terror. Beware, stranger, the witches are here. Justin McDaid
Photo: �Helen Warner
Inbound Thee Penny Dreadfuls
Photo: Sara Marsden
ormed in 2011, five�piece band Thee Penny Dreadfuls are a feral garage rock 'n' roll breed spawned from two hotbeds of the Northern Irish music scene, Belfast and Lurgan. Starting out the Dreadfuls tapped into the mod scene, but as time has lapsed they have honed a heavier, harder sound, more indebted to garage rock forefathers The Sonics. This transition is exemplified by the bands they have shared a stage with, starting out with the likes of The Lambrettas, to supporting exponents of the Californian psych�garage scene, Thee Oh Sees in 2013 and most recently Meatbodies. They're a band that pride themselves on live shows, which thrives off audience interaction in intimate confines, whether that be a back bar, a hair salon or the back of a van (all genuine examples of past shows).
Onstage, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Benny Dreadful (pictured) belts it out with the same guttural intensity as Rob Tyner in his prime. After a couple of fruitless studio visits in the past, this year the band intend to capture the raw energy so evident at live shows and insert it in wax for what would be their first full�length record, in the beautiful surrounds of Analogue Catalogue Vintage Recording Studio, overlooking the Mourne Mountains, with a view to relentlessly touring it afterwards and playing 'more shows in weirder places'. As Benny put it: "We’ll be doing our usual thing of playing tons of shows and having a good time. And if there are no shows to play, we’ll make ones and you can bring drinks." Keep an eye out, they'll be tearing up a hair salon near you soon. Garrett Hargan
– Inbound –
Thee Penny Dreadfuls
ately, it seems like nothing could possibly slow Katie Laffan down. Having risen in relentless fashion through the ranks of the Dublin live scene, and now staking her claim further afield, if you haven’t encountered the teen ska�pop/urban performer yet, you’re sure to soon. Blending elements of hip hop, soul, R&B and pop in a mode more mature than her years might suggest, Laffan has come a long way since the King Kong Club halcyon days of covers and half�jammed rooms – Dead As Disco, a debut EP spanning five tremendously put together tracks speaks volumes for her mastery of the hook and resonates with enviable lyrical frankness.
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Currently under the umbrella guidance of Word Up, a newly established Dublin urban music collective, Laffan’s growth as an artist has been exponential – not least because of her backing band and the slick symbiosis they’ve begun to develop on stage. The singles have been gloriously catchy too, ‘I Don’t Mind’ and ‘Ego’ making for firm favou� rites, and while Laffan has managed to establish herself as a force of fierce originality, an early cover of the Pussy� cat Dolls’ (seminal?) hit ‘Dont Cha’ is still very much an inspired live�show centrepiece imbued with the kind of signature rhythmic panache that, un� doubtedly, will continue to ensure she soars ever higher. Aaron Drain
Photo: �Ruth Kelly
– Inbound –
Inbound Katie Laffan
Inbound Emzee A
Emzee A collaboration and community is at the very heart of both Emzee’s latest EP and implicit manifesto. Inspired by the likes of peers including Rejjie Snow, Lethal Dialect and Simi Crowns, his belief that Ireland can be a contender for hip�hop on the world stage ("collectively we can all put Ireland fully on the map in a couple of year’s time” he said in an in� terview last year) is not only deeply con� tagious but also partway self�fulfilled in his output to date. Expect to hear much more from Emzee A in the coming twelve months. Brian Coney
– Inbound –
Photo: Melanie Mullan
ne of the most exciting and single�minded prospects in a currently flourishing Irish hip hop scene, Emzee A is a Nigerian�born, Dublin�based rapper with self�belief and promise to burn. Having released his encouraging debut EP #InDueTime in the Summer of 2013, he fully arrived early last year by way of a truly killer one�two: the release of his wonderfully phantasmal single ‘Lucid Dreaming’ and supporting Jay Electronica at Whel� an’s in Dublin. Produced by the likes of Vce Beats, Penacho and Canis Major,
– OAKS – First album you bought? I bought System of a Down’s Toxicity when it came out and obsessed over it. I sat down a few months ago to try and play some of the drum parts I learned when I was like 12. Deep nostalgic vibes. First single you bought? OPM’s ‘Heaven is a Half Pipe'. Both sides of the tape had the single on it and I played it in my Walkman ‘til it stopped working. Dreadful tune. First artist/band to change your music-listening/making life? I have always been pretty open minded when it comes to music. I inherited that from my parents for sure. Everything from Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Yes to The Fine Young Cannibals and a lot more in-between was played in the house while I was growing up. First festival experience? Oxegen. Cant remember the year but I
12 12 TheThe Thin Thin Air Air Magazine Magazine
know we saw James Brown and The Who. Frankly I was off my face and don’t re� member anyone else’s sets but the haze is a pleasant one. First favourite film soundtrack? Ben-Hur - Miklos Rozsa. Amazing movie and even better score. The overture is so high octane, I love it. First band t-shirt/jumper? I had a Number of the Beast tee that my mum hated with a white hot passion. First time you knew you wanted to make music? After being a child, I don’t really remem� ber wanting anything else. I’m not sure there was a moment in particular. It’s just always been there. First instrument you learnt to play? My love, my sweet kind prince, the drum set.
Photo: Joe Laverty
– The First Time
Photographer Joe Laverty shoots and delves into the music-making, listening and loving firsts of Belfast musician and producer James Bruce AKA OAKS.
Rookie of the Year
Illustration: Aoife Dooley
hicago too often gets forgotten in the narrative. New York is hiphop’s first holy city. LA and the South have enjoyed reigns as the centre of power. But Chi-Town has been a hub of rap inventiveness for long enough now to be considered a top-tier player. There’s Kanye West, of course, the city’s absent governor. Plus guys like Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa, descendants of West’s early backpack� er-with-a-Benz stylings. Embers of Drill continue to burn, the sound forged in the city’s hardened South Side by artists too undisciplined to walk through the door that viral hits like Chief Keef’s ‘I Don’t Like’ opened for them. And then there’s Chris Crack, who refuses to be comfort� ably fit into either outline. One of the year’s best rap records has been Crack’s joint collaboration with fellow Chicago loyalist Vic Spencer. Who The Fuck Is Chris Spencer?? formalised a partnership that has long been fully-func� tional. The gruff Vic raps like he’s sunk deeply into his throne, while Crack’s voice hangs high and mighty. It’s not an obvious match-up, but both side’s bring strengths that add up when paired. For Crack, it’s been the most promi� nent project in a young career that has seen him follow the Lil Wayne method — never stop moving. The New Deal Crew frontman has spent the last few years
rapping relentlessly over anything he can get his hands on, from smoked-out soul to trunk-rattling trap. His tracks are short and choppy. Each mixtape sounds like he’s rapidly shuffling his deck, never settling on a signature style. The one con� stant is his voice, and Crack is a serious MC. His aggression is non-stop. Every bar hits as he raps rings around whatever beats are thrown in his direction with in� tricate wordplay, vibrant narratives and a few irreverent touches. So many highlights to mention. ‘Trill Bellamy’ is a ride down LA’s sun-drenched boulevards. The narra� tive-heavy ‘Sweet Lick’ displays Crack’s heightened attention to minutiae. He raps over the same unmistakable Screamin’ Jay Hawkins sample that formed The Notori� ous BIG’s ‘Kick In The Door’ on the cheek� ily-titled ‘No Biggie’ just for the hell of it – the same kind of fearless jack move that saw him take on the Wu-Tang’s ‘CREAM’ sample on ‘White Van Music’. If there’s a failed experiment in his catalogue, he’s locked it in a private vault. None of this guarantees that Crack is the succeeding Chicago flag bearer, but that hardly matters. He’s already got a discography to put against up-and-comer. The city may be ringing out from coast to coast, but it’s most exciting artist right now is bubbling in the underground. Dean Van Nguyen
– Stacks on Deck
Dean Van Nguyen on Chris Crack, Chicago’s best young rapper.
March/April March/April 2016 132016
Feature An Áit Eile
– An Áit Eile –
hen I arrive in Galway’s char� ismatic pub The Blue Note on a serene, mild, Sunday afternoon to meet David Boland, artistic director of An Áit Eile, there are very few people around. A small group are gathered around an iPad watching football, the low music over the sys� tem shuffles from Oasis to Sea Pinks; the new� ly decorated smoking area looks a lot more colourful in daylight. Talking to Boland about An Áit Eile involves more than learning what the project directly does. Describing itself as a cultural collective that presents a new, grassroots and autono� mous approach to all areas of the arts in the west of Ireland, the more its origins, structure and goals are explored, the more it feels like we’re instead trying to get to the root of not only a collective, but of a concept. “I was initially inspired by groups like Cork Community Print Shop and The Exchange in Dublin and I was thinking a lot about why
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Galway and the west of Ireland didn’t really have anything like that, a place where artists and musicians could create and collaborate and run events.” It beggars belief that in Galway, a town with such a deeply rooted reputation as a bohemian haven for the arts and for culture, a collective or community space within which artists of all kinds could work and thrive was something that was missing. “Galway has many small independent cultural groups, artist collectives and music cliques. An Ait Eile, as an idea, was an attempt to find a way to bring these groups together in a space. To find ways of making and releasing music in a climate where no one’s getting signed or really knows what’s going on, to give artists a space to work and create, to provide a platform where people could sell what they make. I started talking with Conor McDaid, our web developer, about a website that could sell independent music and arts and crafts of
Photo: Vincent Hughes
Eoin Murray looks at the not-for-profit cultural collective that aims to take an autonomous, grassroots approach to arts in the West of Ireland.
Feature An Áit Eile
“We want to fundamentally change how people produce and interact with culture in Galway.”
all kinds from Galway. Chris Cullen, who is involved with Block T and had been doing a lot work around the idea of co-operatives in the arts, came on board and the three of us even� tually decided to stop talking about it and look into making An Ait Eile a reality. At the start it was all quite naïve”. But that naivety is what provides a spark, allows an idea to expand initially. An Áit Eile – The Other Place – aims to provide an alterna� tive to the privately owned venue scene, or to the council supported arts system which can so often seem unwelcoming, cold and elitist. It will instead provide a springboard from which artists can work using the equipment and materials provided, a physical and online base from which products can be bought and sold, a community driven home which makes a point of being welcoming to all. As the team grew then to include Louise Spokes and Thomas Stewart, it became time to act upon these ideas, to achieve the support required for this concept of a broad, artistic community to be realised with the resources to create, to sell, to grow and to promote. “It’s become something bigger than we ini� tially thought. Working with Galway 2020 has encouraged us to think big. In Europe most cities have something like this to a degree, so there’s no reason why Galway shouldn’t, but
most of all we want to maintain the grassroots element, the collaborative drive.” The nexus of An Áit Eile would be in a space, a centre where that sense of community would be based and nourished, a place that would welcome and encourage individuals from all disciplines. “Originally we had a small inde� pendent centre in mind and that was it, basi� cally a small venue with rehearsal rooms and maybe some art studios, but it has expanded massively from that. We’re looking to provide a coffee shop, marketplace, venue, a complete audio/visual production suite with a recording studio, rehearsal rooms and green screens, an art and design hub with shared studio space, a wellness centre and a grow space... we want to provide an affordable space where people can be inspired, create, perform and sell their craft. There’s so much talent here, we want to provide a platform for that to flourish.” People can be laughed at for romanticising a place, an idea. But so often when people hear about Galway and the west it is this rugged, edge of Europe, romantic image that attracts them to it. Its cultural history, its bohemian reputation and its poetic mysticism draw peo� ple from across the world to Galway so that they may absorb inspiration from it. Yet when people do arrive it is so often the case that they become lost without a welcoming space or clear community of likeminded people to embrace them. What Boland and An Áit Eile seem ultimately driven toward is turning the romance at Galway’s core from an idea into a reality. Because all it takes is dedication and the right team to do that. And why is it so strange to imagine such a place?“ Galway could be a paradise. I mean, it’s al� ready a nice place to live. But with a few funda� mental changes it could become a trendsetter, an example of how a small city can nurture its creative communities and become a place where everyone can be involved in and benefit from culture. Other groups, like Transition
Galway and Collaborative Ways Forward are re� imagining the future of this city and we are just part of a greater movement here towards direct democracy and citizen led change. We want to fundamentally change how people produce and interact with culture in Galway but on a very basic level we also want to provide a place for anyone, artist or not, to hang out that isn’t the pub or their house.” Weaving through this whole concept is the idea of wellness. Not only will the proposed building be a haven for artists of all kinds, it is gearing toward being a welcoming envi� ronment for anyone looking to take care of themselves mentally and emotionally, be that through yoga, speaking sessions, meditation or through art. Aiming to do away with any stigma around mental health, An Áit Eile will provide a sanc� tuary where people can be well, recover, feel welcomed and at home. On the face of it, it can sound like a dream, something that could be snorted at as overly ambitious, overly roman� tic. But perhaps that is a predisposed cynicism within us that creates that attitude. Perhaps that cynicism is the only thing that has stopped something like this, something people deserve, something to make them happy, from happening al� ready. Realistically though, can it happen? Can such a place exist in a relatively small city? “I think it can. I think it’s a con� cept that everyone agrees with and we’ve done needs assessment meet� ings and co�design sessions with local groups and artists. I mean, it sounds dreamlike but we do have a business plan, we’re talking to potential anchor tenants like the Access Music Project, meeting with European partners like Edgeryders and we’ve recently received funding from the City Council. There is a lot
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of support for An Ait Eile behind the scenes. It’s also looking like we could be a big part of Galway’s bid for the European Capital of Cul� ture. The huge social benefits of such a space have been documented in other cities. There aren’t many reasons why this can’t happen.” And so why shouldn’t it? An Áit Eile is a grassroots project by an ever expanding team of people who believe in that romantic vision of Galway as a place where all independent artists, musicians and creators can at least have a chance to try. It would provide oppor� tunities for those with genuine talent and quality. Not only that but they are well on the way to providing somewhere for those who just want to be surrounded by that positivity with something to be around, without judgement or agenda. Never before has something so positive and inclusive seemed so within reach, and while there will always be naysayers, there will also always be passion and love at the core of this project as well as a staunch capability to achieve. Eoin Murray Find An Áit Eile online at aae.ie and on Facebook.
David Boland performing as New Pope, photo: Vincent Hughes
Feature An Áit Eile
Black Box is 10! Thank you to all our customers and supporters, promoters and festivals for all the great events since 2006. Join us for a year full of celebration with events from John Shuttleworth, Robin Ince, Andy Irvine, Tenx9, Midweek Magic, Tease-O-Rama, Outburst Queer Arts Festival and our big Birthday party on Friday 24 June. www.blackboxbelfast.com March/April 2016
– Venus Dupree – Belfast DJ Venus Dupree handpicks a selection of records that have left an indelible imprint on her music and life.
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Guaranteed Floor Fillers:
First Choice Let No Man Put Asunder I like to open a set with this as I think it builds the tone of the night nicely and I love Rochelle Fleming’s vocals - she has one of the most distinctive voices of the disco era. There are few edits that I Iove of this track that I like to mix in sometimes. One is by Mike Q called ‘Let No Face’, in which he’s sampled it into a house ballroom track. ‘It’s Not Over’ by Ron Hardy is a gem too.
Photo: Joe Laverty
y default setting is Disco and House classics. I like to pay my respects to the founding fathers of these sounds by playing out a lot of New York Disco and Chicago sounds. The ethos of Disco and House for me is rooted in communal experience - any account from clubbers from the 70s and 80s from clubs like the Paradise Garage and The Sanctuary (formerly a church in NYC) or The Warehouse and The Music Box in Chicago is that they were almost spiritual places where the DJ was GOD. Below are my selections for records I like to play out, my recent discoveries and a few guilty pleasures that I couldn’t live without.
Track Record Venus Dupree
The Black Madonna Exodus She is hands down my favourite DJ right now - her sets are so diverse and exciting and they blend disco, house and techno from NYC, Chicago and Detroit. I think she probably influences how a lot of my sets are played out now. This particular track is off an EP called Goodbye To All This and it samples an old Paradise Garage classic called ‘Stand on the World’ by The Jou� bert Singers. It’s a great track to segway from Disco into House
Loose Joints Tell You (Today) It’s an oldie but a goodie as they say. Arthur Russell was a genius and this track really gets people moving - I never tire of it.
Inner City Big Fun This track has all the right kinds of beats/vocals and euphoria tied into one.
Patti Austin Body Language The title track is sexy. I’ve listened to it on repeat since I
heard it. It is so textured with vocals, horns and piano that all just build at the right parts.
Leon Vynehall Pier Kids A friend hooked me up with this artist. I love the EP - it's called Music For the Uninvited. Pure deep loveliness!
Ron Trent Ron Hardy (Dedication To You) I heard this track in a set by Ron Trent which was one of the best sets I’ve heard in a long time - once again a testament to how early DJs became immortalised on the dance floor
Michael Sambello Maniac This is one of the tracks that I danced to in a competition when I was a kid. As soon as that first beat hits I’m lost in it and transported to an imaginary dance floor in my mind. I unashamedly love this track.
Lynched Redefining Irish folk for a new generation, Lynched have challenged the genre's long-entrenched social and political conventions, earning critical plaudits and a burgeoning following in the process. Mike McGrath-Bryan speaks with the band about their past, present and future. Words Mike McGrath-Bryan | Photos Aidan Kelly Murphy
rish trad collective Lynched represent perhaps one of the country's least likely musical success stories, and do so in spite of trad officialdom, drawing deep from their roots as Dublin punk-rockers rather than kow� towing to an ever-stifling establishment. Emerg� ing from performance antics in the early 2000s, the band had been through several iterations before settling on its current incarnation. Band co-founder Daragh Lynch goes into detail about the band's roots: "Lynched was started back around 2001/2002, as a kind of a humorous punk performance art outfit. I had been playing guitar for most of my
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teenage years, learning Nirvana, Rory Gallagher and Guns n’ Roses songs and when Ian came back from squatting in London, having taught himself tin whistle so he could go out busking, we started writing stupid songs together just for a bit of a laugh. I can’t remember exactly who gave us our first gig, or how they heard about us, but I do remember our first couple of gigs being as the opening act for punk bands in the basement of the Parnell Mooney, where the GZ punk gigs used to happen. For our first gig we were called ‘The Indescribable Backwards Paradoxes of Impotent Death’, then ‘The Lynch Brothers’ which finally became ‘Lynched’.
We used to involve elements of performance art and theatre in these early gigs, like robbing thousands of little red envelopes out of an aban� doned office we used to sleep in on weekends and putting little fortune cookie style messages in them that we typed up on a little Fisher Price typewriter that I got for Christmas as a child, while prancing about like ballet dancers and whispering, “We love you!” to the audience. We also once robbed two black sacks full of Walker’s crisps from some promotional smiley ladies who were giving them out outside Trinity College and dispensed them to the crowd at a gig we had that night. Good times! We also both ended up at the second ever K-Town Punk and Hardcore Festival in Copenhagen in 2002. This became a bit of a tradition for the next few years and also got us a bit of a cult following in the punk/squatter/anarchist scenes around Europe, leading to a tour of France and Switzerland in 2004, some gigs in Barcelona and Mallorca and an outrageous tour of Canada, The United States and Mexico in 2006. To be honest, that kind of seemed like the end of it because in 2007 I had a mental breakdown and Ian had a new son to take care of, but we recorded some bits and pieces with our good friend Cian Lawless (who we wrote the song ‘Cold Old Fire’ with) over the next few years, as well as forming psychedel� ic-shock-rock-cowboy-cabaret-black metal outfit, ‘Fuck You Written In Shit’. We also did a few gigs in Australia, but that was more of a glorified holiday. At the same time though, we were getting very into traditional tunes and go� ing to sessions around Dublin, some of which were run by the wonky anti-hero from Clonmel known as Fred Fortune. It was at these sessions that we met Cormac (MacDiarmada) and, a year or two later, Radie (Peat). The rest, as they say, is on the ‘about’ section of our website." Having come together in their current form and gigged around Ireland, the band has hit its stride regards the selection of traditional com�
positions it performs, showcasing rarely-heard pieces alongside their own material. Expounds Cormac on the band's internal process: "The creative process generally involves lots of meticulous discussion and sometimes an ar� gument or two that can be about an entire part of an arrangement or a whether a single note should go up the scale or down the scale. It can be frustrating of course but if the end result is something that we can be proud of then its ab� solutely worth it. Usually someone will bring a song or idea to the table and we’ll work on it if resonates. Songs and pieces are left unfinished for myriad reasons be it due to frustration at a lack of realisation of the piece—that the ar� rangement hasn’t solidified—or if something more exciting takes over. We’ve got a backlog of songs and ideas that we’ll hopefully get around to finishing some day." The band's second album overall and first in this incarnation, 2014's Cold Old Fire was recorded in Dublin's Traditional Music Archive. Radie takes her turn to talk about the album's recording and the atmosphere therein. "We spent a week and a half in the basement with musical genius Danny Diamond recording everything we had arranged so far. It was a very high octane experience; existential crises, moments of euphoria, ridiculous arguments, cups of tea... My best memory of it is the tracks that only came together in the studio, such as 'Lullaby' or 'What Put The Blood?'. We released it in the Button Factory, and were told months later by music industry types that you don't just release an album without telling anybody, that there's a process to get a buzz going and timing is crucial etc. Sure, what did we know? We didn't have a clue about that stuff." The album's standout title track, detailing the realities modern of Irish life outside the cosseted bubble that seemingly surrounds offi� cial Ireland, is one of few great protest numbers to have escaped our island, in the middle of a paucity in protest music since the country's es�
March/April March/April 2016 2016
“You’ll see the same shit in any reports on culture or arts funding... all it can ever be boiled down to is economic worth.”
tablishment managed to bring the whole place down in 2008. Daragh ruminates on why this might be the case. "I think it says a lot about how music is viewed and treated these days. Much like everything else in the neo-liberal wet dream we call modern society; its merit is only ever really discussed in monetary terms, finan� cial value, tourism, job creation etc. I studied art in college too and it was the same horseshit there. No real discussions on the consciousness raising abilities of art and creativity, the inde� scribable elements that take us outside of our everyday thought patterns, that give us inspi� ration to look at the world differently, or even change it for the better. You’ll see the same shit in any reports on culture or arts funding... all it can ever be boiled down to is economic worth. Not much use to a poet lamenting the corpo� rate war machine.” The song has been both a boon to the band and a bone of contention with those who benefit from perpetuating said narrative, as Ian Lynch explains regards their brush with RTÉ Radio leading up to Culture Night 2014. "Basically, it goes like this – we were asked to play the gig, we said yes, they said great, but you have to play these three songs. We said that those three songs were not a good choice, as it seemed that we were being presented as a happy good-time ‘Oirish’ pub-band. So we said
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that we wanted to play two of their choices and one of our own songs, ‘Cold Old Fire’, to give a better representation of the band. This resulted in an over-excited producer ringing up Daragh, telling him that 'COF' was too downbeat, that this night was not about us, but was ‘about cul� ture’, alongside some other gems that I won’t repeat here. So we said that we wanted to play, but couldn’t accept someone else choosing our set-list for us. They wrote back to our agent and said ‘we’re sorry that Lynched can’t play the gig’ and then told some newspapers that we had decided not to play, which wasn’t exactly the case. I think it basically came down to an over-zealous producer who wanted to present us in a certain light. A lot of other people are of the opinion that it was to do with the lyrical content of the song, which could also be true. At the end of the day it worked out well for us – in the ensuing hullabuloo a lot of people who had never heard of us got into the band, and we ended up playing the song on the Ray d’Arcy TV show last November anyway." The band's climb to prominence has seen them take in all manner of other media en� gagements, including an appearance on the BBC's Jools Holland Show, of which Radie has been a longtime fan. "I lost it when I found out it was happening, I had harboured this ridic� ulous pipe dream since I was about eighteen that I might play on it some day. It seemed extra ridiculous because I played Traditional Irish Music, but it happened! We had very little time to prepare, both from a musical perspective and a mental one. The whole thing was surreal, it's such a well-oiled machine, you don't have a huge amount of time to think. Blind terror is all I remember." The band returns to Auntie next month for the BBC Folk Awards, but a busy remainder of the year awaits them, says Cormac. "We’re do� ing a split seven-inch with Stick in the Wheel which should be coming out later this year. We’re also working on new material for a new
album, though we really have no idea when that will be finished. These things always take way longer than hoped, or planned. Plenty of gigs and tours happening later in the year, in� cluding a tour of England and Denmark." While it seems a mile away, it occurs to your writer to ask the band what they might like their legacy to be in the end. Daragh seizes on it with typical wit and aplomb. "Ideally, as the band that sparked a wave of consciousness raising creative awareness in Ireland which resulted in a toppled right-wing shitbag gov� ernment being replaced with a mutually coop� erative anarchist utopia, thus destabilising the entire European project, as right-wing shitbag corporate arselicker government after right-
wing shitbag corporate arselicker government fell like a row of dominoes, each replaced with an even more beautiful social project, where every human realised the inherent beauty and worth of every other human and did every� thing they could to ensure the comfort, safety and joy of every person on earth, thus causing the end of all oppression and social control, as the entire planet realised that the entire uni� verse was theirs to inherit, as they set about exploring scientific projects, new approaches to energy, communication and creativity with the same fervour and optimism as they ap� proached exploring the outer reaches of the solar system. Either that or as a pretty good folk band." Mike McGrath Bryan
March/April March/April 2016 2016
Burnt Out: In Defence Of Their Side Of The City Words: Loreana Rushe | Photos: Brian Mulligan Burnt Out are a multi-disciplinary project consisting of talented and articulate compatri� ots producing material based on their experi� ences living in North Dublin. Their origins are firmly rooted in working class society, a uni� fying quality between the group which lead them to create their debut release Dear James about the public suicide of a friend over a de� cade ago. They speak about the impact of their work and highlight the under-appreciation of their culture, so often misrepresented in the Arts in Ireland.
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On Their Origins This collective of ours runs deep and there's quite a lot of us in the talent pool. We’re heavily influenced by the people around us and the experiences we had from when we were very young. The majority of us met through the scheme, but from the age of 14/15 some of us were involved in the hard� core punk scene so there's an affinity with traditional rock instrumentation from those years of learning about ourselves. Musically
Feature Burnt Out
what you’re hearing is the best way that we could contextualise our story. It was organic as we’re stuck by what we have physical access to. Those confinements determine this music, so having guitars is not a conscious decision at the outset. It came out of the immediacy of stuff lying around so we’re not always going to have that resounding sound, there will be major variety in the future. On Dear James It's the fact that all of us in this group has a ‘James’, whether that James is a Shane, a Dino, a Stephen... we've all had that experi� ence and it’s been the connective tissue for us. Paul, our singer wrote a rough draft of Dear James as a spoken word piece about a year ago with some of the original words still in the current song. It wasn't totally finished at that time. When he began to write for Burnt Out the refrain in the spoken word piece fitted well with the chorus, so he rewrote the verses. The soundscape created reminded him of how it felt to reminisce about his childhood on the scheme with James and the boys so the entire mood of the song was apt. For Paul, it represents how the massive problems encountered every day in working class society are populated by honest people who don't always have the means to save them� selves. Again, authenticity and honest representation is demand� ed of him as a lyricist and as a voice of the band. The Impact of the video If anybody can look at this video and relate to it, it’s a tragedy in itself. If we can show the significance the subject matter can have on your life to someone who has never had that experience, we hope they can look at us with the respect they mightn't of had before. It’s incredibly important to us, as we think the video had more of an impact than we initially thought it would. The truth is, we're not putting this stuff out to try and bring about a major impact that puts us in better financial standing, social status or anything like that. It’s about the personal connections and not where we see Dear James getting us, but we’ve had far more in� teractions than ever before and that's unbelievably touching. On Class Disparity Our identity as working class people has connected us primarily from the time we were even able to understand class disparity,
Feature Burnt Out
“For Burnt Out as a project, our primary goal is to accurately represent ourselves, our identity and culture where we have felt misrepresented before. Misrepresented at the best of times, underrepresented at the worst.”
considering we’re all in such vastly different financial positions and social circles outside of this. The importance of educating people on this topic differs greatly between us within the group. Some of us will be incredibly passionate and others less so. A lack of passion to talk about it isn't an admission of it not being an issue, it's an admission of maybe not having a luxury to talk about it right now because get� ting fuckin’ food on the table and doing what� ever it is that you have to do to make it from one end of the week to another is. On Misrepresentation For Burnt Out as a project, our primary goal is to accurately represent ourselves, our identity and culture where we have felt misrepresented before. Misrepresented at the best of times, underrepresented at the worst. We're dealing with issues of fetishization of the working class identity in Modern Art and culture. Our culture is commonly not welcomed into the upper ech� elons of the Arts and it's a prevailing problem that's rampant in art institutions, colleges and major cultural publications. A lot of that comes from people who haven't been brought up in a working class community, coming in and basically invading this culture. They’re pre� senting it from their point of view or trying to explore working class characters when they've
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never even had that experience. Dealing with aesthetics of people who are traditionally seen as what might be considered immoral is utter� ly wrong and totally lazy. You're entering an image and identity into a set of confinements and structures that commonly doesn't welcome it which makes it stand out it and fetishised. We’ve barely seen ourselves in the Arts in Ire� land, probably not in a very long time anyways and we’re trying to insert ourselves into the conversation. We want to show how it really is, with the subtlety, finesse and the utmost respect it deserves. burntoutnorth.com
New Music at the MAC
April - May 2016
Think the MAC is just for theatre? Think again. The next few months are jam-packed with gigs from electronic club nights to relaxed and soulful acoustic evenings.
Ryan Vail - For Every Silence Album Launch
16 April Max Cooper Emergence 4 May
Gavin James - plus support from Craig Gallagher
Tickets on sale now at themaclive.com March/April 2016
Musicians Primer Sarah on Film BowieFierce Mild
– Musicians on Film
Cara Holmes of Fierce Mild
You're the first contributor to the Musicians on Film series who is also active as a filmmaker. Can you talk about your own work in film? My first film was called An Introduction to Feminism – fem� inism for beginners! It came after reading one of Bell Hook’s books, Feminism is for Everybody. It was screened across lots of DIY/Ladyfest festivals across Europe and the states, which was encouraging for someone starting out. I always wanted to learn the technical aspect of filmmaking (my degree is in biochemistry), and I’ve found that editing is the best way to learn how to make a film. Currently, I’m editing Lost in France, a feature documentary directed by Niall McCann. It’s a complex, challenging edit, but the end result will be worth it. It can be hard to find time to make my own films. Still, two of my own shorts came out last year, Our Gemma (co-pro� duced with Paula Geraghy), and Queen of the Plough, which won Best Short Docu� mentary at the Galway Film Fleadh. Win� ning was motivation to venture into the world of feature documentaries. Exciting times ahead I think… Do you find that, as somebody working with documentary, you have to 'see' music-making differently to how you would as a musician? I'm not at all in� terested in seeing the intricacies of music
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making in documentary films. What’s in� teresting to me is always the people who make the music – finding out who they are and what drives them to create. Lost in France focuses on Chemikal Under� ground, the Glasgow record label – how it started and how it’s evolved over the years. It will resonate with anyone who started to play music in their teens, and who was lucky enough to find a local mu� sic scene where friendships were made and careers forged (or not). There have been a lot of interesting music-related documentaries lately. I was very struck by The Possibilities Are Endless, James Hall and Edward Lovelace's documentary about Edwyn Collins, for instance. Have you seen anything lately that really resonated with you? The Possibilities Are Endless is by far one of the best films I saw last year, from the visual structure of the film, to the raw human emotions that Edwyn, Grace and their family had to deal with. It was a very intimate and life-affirming journey of rediscovery. I found The Punk Singer [on Kathleen Hanna] was a fiercely empowering re� minder to continue to write and play music. I met the director, Sini Anderson, in New York while the film was in editing.
“I think funded/ mainstream LGBT cinema is boring, clichéd and heteronormative.”
Musicians on Film Fierce Mild
Fierce Mild, l-r: Roro, Cathy and Cara, photo: Aidan Kelly Murphy
I find it hugely inspiring to meet people who make films, and to learn about what drives them. Also, it’s not as common to see music documentaries about women – particularly in the mainstream. One film that I’m really looking forward to is Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits – a documentary about my all-time heroes, The Slits. I have a feeling that this film was crowd-funded. You have to wonder why this is. Viv Albertine's autobiography was on best seller lists so why couldn't the filmmakers get the BBC or BFI to fund it? You have a particular interest in film-making around feminism, LGBT issues and disability. This is a strange time for LGBT cinema, I think. On the one hand, we have a lot of mainstream 'visibility' (Todd Haynes' Carol, for instance). On the other, the kind of confrontational Queer Cinema that was emerging in the 1980s and 1990s seems in danger of being written out of history. I really enjoyed Carol. It was a love affair, it was beautifully shot and well-paced. What's not to like? In general, though, I think funded/main�
stream LGBT cinema is boring, clichéd and heteronormative. I don't want to see 'normal' in film, I don't want to see stereotypes. Opening funding up to all sorts of crea� tives will lead to there being more complex characters on screen. I’d like to see different types of people, characters, and story forms being explored – opening up intergenera� tional conversations or simply providing a platform for people. In Ireland, we won the referendum by being 'nice' 'normal' gays. Towing the line was how we were going to win over the 'undecided', but I found the campaign upsetting – having to prove to our fellow citizens that we were as normal as they are. What's normal? Now I hope we can continue talking about other types of gay people now, the bold queers, the rebel queers, the quiet queers! Two Irish filmmakers I find really inspir� ing are Vivienne Dick and Pat Murphy – not LGBT-specific but fearless and experimental in their approach. I'm hoping their films will continue to be remembered and that some of that gutsy attitude rubs off on me and others coming behind them.
Primer Sarah Bowie
tempted to pick a popular style and use it as if it were your voice. Finding your voice takes time, experimentation and lots of crap drawing. Be brave and stay true to what feels right to you. Also, if you don’t already, get to know other il� lustrators. Illustrators Ireland are a very friendly group who have open meetings once a month in the Library Bar. So don’t be shy, come along.
Sarah Bowie is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist. She is a founding member The Comics Lab, a monthly comics salon, and of OFFSKETCH, an urban sketch event with pop�up exhibition. Her picture book Let’s See Ireland is due out with The O’Brien Press in March 2016.
Hello Sarah. Can you tell us a little about your journey as an illustrator thus far? How and when did you realize that illustrating and cartoons would be your career? I’ve come to illus� tration and comics the circuitous route. I didn’t study art in school, and ended up doing a business and languages degree in college. I worked for many years in financial services and the public sector. I knew I could write and draw, but felt very much on the outside of the creative world. I used to go to life�drawing classes and tried to teach myself from books and by going to talks. Eventually, through a pro� cess of losing my job, a lot of hard work and getting to know some illustrators, I put my work out there and got my first real illustration job. What advice would you have for young artists looking to follow a similar career route? Take your time. Don’t be
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You’re a founding member of both The Comics Lab and OFFSKETCH. What are the aims of both of these organisations? How did you get involved? Both of these groups aim to build community and with that, a critical mass of energy that helps move the creative scene for� ward. I co�founded The Comics Lab with Debbie Jenkinson and Paddy Lynch in order to help develop a vibrant alterna� tive comics scene in Dublin. We wanted to encourage lots of new people to start exploring and pushing the medium. OFFSKETCH was the brainchild of Steve Simpson, and I helped him set�up the first one in the run�up to OFFSET 2015. We wanted to help people to connect and
Photos: �Mark Earley
Primer Sarah Bowie
engage with the city, and since then there have been three more OFFSKETCH events, including one in Galway. 2016 has started well for you, especially with the imminent release of your new book. Can you tell us about the whole book process thus far and what we can expect from the book? Where did the idea for it come from? O’Brien’s Press liked some samples that I sent them and asked me to pitch a concept for a picture book which would appeal to the home market while showcasing locations around Ireland. My pitch was successful, so then I set about thumbnailing the entire book. This is like the blueprint for the book, and allows you to get things like pacing and flow just right. After that came the line work and finally, colour. The book is about a little girl who goes on holiday around Ireland with her family. Unknown to her, her pet cat Mipsy sneaks along. The game for the child is to find Mipsy on every spread.
and observations, then bring them back to the studio and see how I can mix them all up. What exciting plans have you got for the rest of 2016? I plan to continue focusing on picture books and comics. I’m in the early stages of another picture book project and I’m also work� ing on a series of self-directed comics projects. I presented new work at ‘Fête de la Bande Dessiné - Comic Book Festival France | Ireland’ last month and I’ll be tabling at ELCAF (East London Comics & Arts Festival) and the Dublin Zine Fair later this year. I’m also extremely ex� cited to be undertaking a three-month residen� cy in Angouleme at the end of the year, which is a little bit of a dream come true! Keep up with Sarah Bowie's comics at lidlesscomics.com and her illustration work at sarahbowie.com
Which Irish illustrators inspire you at the moment? And, why? Fintan Taite his ink work is world class, and everyone should check out his Inktober illustrations from last year. The Project Twins are con� ceptually and graphically top notch. Lau� ren O’Neill’s work is superb. Her recent Gulliver’s Travels book with The O’Brien Press is beautiful. You’ve included a piece of your work. What is it and when did you make it? Can you talk us through the process of designing work like this? It’s a piece of comics poetry called Seagull. I made it last September to contribute to The Comic Lab’s anthology ‘Experiment’. I like over� laying images with unrelated words and seeing what new thoughts/images they provoke in the reader. I keep a sketchbook with me at all times and jot down thoughts
Solar Bears Advancement Returning after a hiatus with a new label in Sunday Best, the duo of Rian Trench and John Kowalski, AKA Solar Bears, have brought with them an expansive work, in� formed by psychedelia, score, and ambience in fourth LP Advancement. 'Man Plus' sets a growling, jagged tone for the rest of the record, contrasting distort� ed undertones with spacey drones, while 'Vanishing Downstream' resonates with massive, clanging rhythm. Skittish minimalism is melded to faded samples and noise in 'Scale', and the closing double of 'Longer Life' and 'Separate from the Arc' demonstrate both sides of their current sound in ample detail, ambitious yet exploratory. The nods to score and cinematic music are
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everywhere throughout this al� bum, a paean to experimental visuals, right down to its dual music videos with American director Michael Robinson. 'Age Atomic' rings with sci-fi sonics, tempered with a certain restraint. 'Persona's' ample at� mosphere is pensive, yet some� how expansive, casting a cold eye on the duo's soundscaping. Unshackled from particular circumstance and married only to a vision, Solar Bears have used that and created something fearless, some� thing panoramic. Mike McGrath Bryan
Sounds of System Breakdown Punishing Love “Eighty-four acres of indus� trial wasteland” is a such an excellent lyric to begin on.
These six words epitomise ex� actly what Dublin threesome Sounds of System Breakdown intend to achieve on their debut release, Punishing Love: capturing the dehuman� ising impact of the digital age with a mechanic precision. Af� fronted on all sides by pulsat� ing synthetic rhythms deliv� ered with an inhuman rigidity, the voice is the only thing left to carry the flag for human� ity which it does admirably. Songs deal with melancholy, isolation and defeatedness in a way that never feels “woe is me” or too melodramatic but rather something closer to the genuine emotion of Matt John� son or James Murphy. There is an ennui that mo� tivates these songs and this downbeat atmosphere beauti� fully contrasts with the ener� getic and incredibly danceable music that accompanies it. It’s a record that kicks off with a track that somehow manages to capture the spirit of New Order and the musicality of a ‘Blurred Lines’ house remix, before effortlessly burning down the house on ‘Giving Up’ and ‘Paris Syndrome’. It’s four dense and interesting songs that suggest that Sounds are due for something much big� ger. Will Murphy
The Bonnevilles Arrow Pierce My Heart Hailing from Lurgan, Andrew McGibbon Jnr. and Chris McMullan make up The Bonnevilles. With Arrow Pierce My Heart, the pair have come out swinging on an album that is full of songs about death, love, drink, sex and revenge – the perfect mix of life’s lighter moments then. ‘No Law in Lurgan (Intro the Bells of Hell)’ opens proceedings and initially sounds like something lifted from the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?. However, as soon as the buzz-saw guitar licks are accompanied by McMullan’s drumming, the scene is set for the remainder of the album. Whilst there is more than hint of the delta blues during ‘My Dark Heart’ and ‘I Dreamt
of the Dead’, the album’s Cramps-like title track proves a trance-inducing song that is as self-explanatory and despondent as it can get. Elsewhere, ‘Eggs & Bread (Gallows Song)’ and ‘Those Little Lies’ may take a step away from the rawness but are so obviously dripping with affliction and despair that The Bonnevilles have seemingly gone through the mill and back again to produce this electrifying – if rather morose – record. Conor Callanan
J. Cowhie Veil Veil, the recent release from Sweden based Dubliner J. Cowhie – formerly known as Goodtime – is a delicate affair. Moving away from the fullband format of his 2011 LP and
venturing into a more sombre, introspective mode is what makes this collection, released in March, the dizzying beauty that it is. Musically, Cowhie assembles each track with smoky keys, guitars as crisp as frost, and vocals that reso� nate like lingering thoughts. Melodies and rhythms range from swooning surf, to reverb coated folktronica. In describing the album, Cowhie has claimed that it confronts very personal concepts such as “the respon� sibilities that come to us all in our lives whether we are ready for them or not. Having to embrace these changes and moving on with them”. With this in mind it’s easy to hear this album as the perfect companion to a lone stroll at dusk, to those moments when your mind is at its most reflec� tive and pensive. Lines like “Did you even notice the time slipping away?” and “The memories they never leave, they just sit in the back room gathering dust” attest to some of life’s most wistful, real moments. Each moment on this album feels like a tender dance between lyric, melody and pulse, thus turning Veil into a truly gorgeous musical blanket. Eoin Murray
Live Solar Bears
Solar Bears GIGANTIC AT LAVERY'S, BELFAST
little to recognise from their recorded output tonight among what amounts to a sprawling continuous piece, as sections seamlessly weave into the next, samples and hooks repeated until they’ve outlived their usefulness and replaced with the next one, all with a certain raw spontaneity often missing from more overly polished electronic performances. Though the room appears worryingly empty shortly before they’re due onstage, attendance thankfully picks up quite quickly, and there’s an infectious level of enthusiasm from those at the front. If tonight’s material is a sign of how LP4 might turn out, let’s hope we have a shorter wait. Cathal McBride
Photo: Joe Laverty
hile Advancement, the long awaited third LP from Dublin electronic duo Solar Bears continues their previous work’s Boards Of Canada-esque combination of ambient and dance influences with those of film scores and library music, the duo’s live show, as they launch the album with an appearance at Lavery’s Gigantic club, is a different beast entirely - less atmospheric and relaxed, and instead faster, louder and more energetic, as the pair fiddle with various samplers, sequencers and keyboards in front of trippy live visuals. Having written new material specifically for the live show that they can improvise with, there’s
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Battles THE BUTTON FACTORY, DUBLIN
Photo: Colm Laverty
he layout for Battles is not dissimilar to their music, compact in its close prox� imity, as always, which helps to create their perfectly taut dynamic. Their equipment is also strategically placed at the very edge of the stage, immersing themselves completely with the packed crowd at this sold out show. Dave Konopka takes to the stage first, tinkering away at his pedals while the others join him shortly afterwards to a rapturous reception. John Stani� er, an unrelenting powerhouse at the drum kit, is the vertebrae of the group and prominently centered with his signature high crash cym� bal. Ian Williams takes his place between two upwardly angled keyboards, while he pins the guitar high to his chest and is within stretching distance of an Ableton launchpad. Now he’s firmly in control of letting it all fly out of his fin� gers like ghosts released from a Muon trap. Visceral sounds anchored by powerful per� cussion are undeniable trademarks of a band
with such incessant energy and joy for their craft, known more apparent on this evening’s opener of ‘Dot Com’. We’re instantly observing Battles at their pinnacle, steadily recreating the building blocks of this looping soundscape in front of our eyes as they consistently heave over their instruments. They reach deep into their early archives with ‘IPT2’ and ‘Hi/Lo’, off-kilter material from their early EPs which they cautiously explain has not been played live in years but the evident mas� tery here easily suggests otherwise. The encore ensues with ‘B+T’ and ends with ‘The Yabba’, with both songs seamlessly inter� twining which incidentally share the opening track spots on both of these respective releases. The juxtaposition of fresh material alongside their early work marks a welcome return to a fully rounded and accomplished set, mastering an art of repetition which evidently never fails to excite. Loreana Rushe
March/April 2016 2016 March/April
Not Gospel Don't Fear The Reaper
– Not Gospel
ime, they say, is a great healer. Unfortunately, as has been so visibly proved this year, it can exact a heavy cost. The world of rock and roll has lost a handful of the greats, with Lemmy, Bowie, The Eagles’ Glen Frey, and Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner all going to that great gig in the sky within a matter of weeks. But is there anything sinister about all this? After all, people day every day, and occasionally, some of them are rock stars. But with a certain section of the rock frater� nity all approaching a certain age, we can be sure that the following months will most likely add a few more band members to the house band in the afterlife. I’m being flippant, of course, and this stuff has affected people great� ly, provoking genuine moments of shared emotion. And, as is part of the Circle of Life, it’s prompted a whole generation to send a bunch of classic rock bands right back into the upper echelons of the charts. And with the best will in the world, I have to wonder whether there’s a few concerned citizens of a certain age wondering if their commercial stock is about to become much more valuable. That generation who essentially invented the rock and roll wheel back in the 60s are largely at an
The Thin Air Magazine
age when organs stop working, and nature takes its course. But they were great in number, and it’s not unreasonable to expect the album charts to be heavily populated by the Class of ’66 over the course of the rest of this year. And whilst it’s always sad to lose another soldier, our sympathies must lie with the younger gener� ation, those creative types whose only crime was being born too late. How will Jack Garratt react when Neil Young steals his thunder? What will Jess Glynne do when Bob Dylan is keeping her off the top spot? What’s left for Little Mix when Patti Smith destroys all comers? WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF HAR� RY STYLES!?! The upshot of this is that there are more people under the age of 30 at this exact time who know who Mo� torhead are than at any point in hu� man history. As popular music con� tinues to devour itself, a new branch has appeared on the grand old tree of rock, with a 2016 sensibility rein� venting ‘60s and ‘70s rock, with all the boundaries removed. For the first time ever, someone can like Justin Bieber and Jefferson Airplane, and take equal inspiration from both. So strap yourself in. As the Grim Reaper prepares himself for a busy stretch, rock and roll is about to get gloriously weird. Steven Rainey
Illustration: Noel Anderson
– Don't Fear The Reaper
88mph The Fall Shift-Work
The Fall Shift-Work
he Fall, for all their cantankerousness, remain a perennial favourite with the critics, but every 7 years or so, the band release an album that has reviewers foaming at the mouth. That LP then becomes a touchstone for subsequent reviews; "Not since Hex...", "well it's no Nation's Saving Grace" etc. Shift-Work was not one of those al� bums. The previous year's Extricate, however, had been exactly that and cast a long shadow. 25 years on though and under closer inspection, Shift-Work is revealed as perfecting its pre� decessor's blueprint. Following the Extricate tour, and for the first time in the group's varied lifespan, Mark E Smith stripped things back from sextet to a lean and muscular 4 piece. It's that core of Hanley, Scanlon, Wolstencroft and Smith that, with very few embellish� ments, can be heard here. The sparse palette, rather than a restriction, was clearly embraced as an opportunity, all four seeming inspired and pushing their abilities. Familiar musical territory is traversed but with a renewed vigour. Drums, bass and guitar become more than the sum of their parts de� livering rockabilly, Krautrock drone, straight indie rock and even wistful romanticism.
The Thin Air Magazine
Notable guests then bring some occasional finishing touches. Dave Bush previews the electronica he would further introduce as a full member through the early 90s, and Kenny Brady on fiddle, turns in impressively versa� tile contributions. Smith himself is on fine form, full of typically off�hand, sneering bile for anyone he considers a blot on the landscape. He berates the dumbing down of society ('War Against Intelligence', 'A Lot of Wind'), laments the Gulf War and his recent divorce, and as usual has a sideswipe at "bands�de�jour" which at that time was (Madchester) "idiot groups with no shape or form, out of their heads on a quid of blow". In contrast, he also finds time for circum� spect reflection ('Edinburgh Man', 'Rose') and for a man of his limited singing proficiency, presents a melodic flour� ish more pronounced than perhaps anywhere in his 40 year career. Sonically Shift-Work might not best repre� sent the band, but to a Fall virgin, bewildered by their monumental back catalogue, its range and relative accessibility might just make it a better entry point than most compila� tions. Jonathan Wallace
Agony Uncle Death
Agony Uncle Agonising? Le Galaxie's Michael Pope is here to help.
th This Month...Dea I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I was born in 1518 in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. And I am immortal. I have inside me blood of kings, I have no rival, no man can be my equal, take me to the future of your world. Here we are, we're the princes of the world. What song do you most want played at your funeral? Simone, Dublin Obviously I KNOW HIM SO WELL by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson. Jesus.
Illustration: Loreana Rushe
Which celebrity death affected you the most? Deirdre, Kerry Matt Cardle('s career). Best death scene in any film ever and why? Barry, Athlone I went to see Heat on a first date and cried so much when DeNiro died holding Pacino's hand that I had to stay for all the end credits while she fetched me tissues for my he�tears. Which Irish person, dead or alive, would you like to be reincarnated as and why? Sarah, Belfast
Is Fergal Sharkey still alive? Because I've always wanted to be inside his body. I'm aware that sounds sexual but I can assure you it is not. I'm going to get real morbid here, Michael Pope. How do you want to die? Trevor, Galway Murder�suicide with Mary Robinson Who's your favourite band with the word 'Death' in their name? Oisin, Dundalk Probably Canadian boyband DAVID CARRADINE WANKED HIMSELF TO DEATH. If you could bring one musician back from the dead to collaborate on a Le Galaxie tune, who would you pick? Kayleigh, Dublin Steven Gately. He seemed like the least thick of them. If you had your ashes pressed into one vinyl (as is a "thing" it seems) which album would it be and why? Brian, Derry Abz from 5ive's album Abstract Theory. What kind of sandwiches would you like served at your wake? Shannon, Belfast Knuckle sandwiches for my douchebag uncle Kevin. You never knelt down to hug me as a boy, Kevin, which meant you basically buried my head into your balls.
NEXT MONTH’S SUBJECT IS...ENGLAND. SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO ASKMICHAEL@THETHINAIR.NET March/April 2016
23 APR – 14 MAY 2016
The new play by Rosemary Jenkinson Directed by Jimmy Fay Starring Michael Condron, Niall Cusack, Susan Davey, Thomas Finnegan and Kerri Quinn
TICKETS FROM £10