Primer Dublin Illustrator Fuchsia MacAree // Feature Bad Bones On Her DIY Ethics Not Gospel A Tribute To Prince // Track Record Toby Kaar // 88mph Marvin Gaye ISSUE #013 | MAY 2016 | FREE
– Rusangano Family: Partners in Rhyme – 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
FEATHER // MISSION OF BURMA // BARQ // SEPTEMBER GIRLS // CIARAN LAVERY MOSSY NOLAN // MOTHERS & FATHERS // MOOSE ELECTRONICS // OR:LA //� NEW PORTALS
Mother Fuzzers Ball Presents
Mescalito The Magnapinna Slouch On The Rox 20.05.2016 Doors 8PM €10 entry
Mother Fuzzers Ball & Overdrive Present
mother mooch with special guests
Unkindness Of Ravens The Workman’s Club Fri 27th May, 8PM Tickets €10 from www.theworkmansclub.com
MOTHER MOOCH “NOCTURNES” “A desert blues that oozes ominously from the speakers” Hot Press Magazine
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 Guide Editor Stevie Lennox email@example.com @stevieisms Contributors: Aaron Drain Aidan Hanratty Brian Coney Brian Mulligan Cathal McBride Christopher Flack David Turpin Eoghain Meakin James Sheridan Jason Lee Joe Laverty Jonathan Wallace Jonny Currie Loreana Rushe Mark Earley Mary Kate Geraghty Michael Pope Mike McGrath Bryan Moira Reilly Paula Murphy Pedro Giaquinto Sara Marsden Steven Rainey Stevie Lennox Cover Photo: Brian Mulligan
Keeping It In The Family And Looking to the Horizon
ne Saturday night this time last year Limerick hip-hop crew Rusangano Family emphatically sealed the deal on our second birthday celebrations at Dublin’s Twisted Pepper with a pop-up performance that encapsulated everything we love about the trio. In fully confirming their arrival with the release of their perfectly vital debut album, Let The Dead Bury The Dead, last month, God Knows, mynameisjOhn and MuRli forged a fifteen-track masterclass traversing the likes of immigrant
identity, various socio-political issues exclusive to 21st Century Ireland and – perhaps just as significant as the much bigger picture – the workings and laws of individual character and personal destiny. Having certainly burrowed its way into this writer’s mind over the last few weeks, the privilege of featuring the album’s three creators as our featured cover act this issue doubles up as a snapshot of a journey that, if there’s any justice, is approaching the precipice of going global. Brian Coney
Contents Photos Of The Month -------------- 4 Projection ------------------------------ 5 May Kay -------------------------------- 6 Inbound -------------------------------- 8 The First Time ---------------------- 12 Feature: Moose Electronics ---- 14 Feature: The Black Box ---------- 17 Track Record: Toby Kaar -------- 18 Feature: Rusangano Family ---- 20
Feature: Or:la ------------------------ 24 Feature: Bad Bones --------------- 26 Primer: Sarah Bowie ------------- 29 Reviews: Releases ----------------- 32 Reviews: Live ----------------------- 34 Not Gospel: Prince ----------------- 36 88mph: The Fall -------------------- 38 Agony Uncle ------------------------- 39
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– Photo of the Month
Photo of the Month Brian Mulligan
Æ Mak Spirit Store, Dundalk Image: Brian Mulligan
ach month our photo editor Loreana Rushe selects one stand-out gig image from our fantastic team of hard-working photographers.
Loreana: Æ Mak are a band we’ll be hearing a lot about over the next while considering their impressive stage shows. This image works really well in terms of the synchronicity between the group and Brian’s great use of composition to catch this moment. The lighting really worked in his favour and it feels more like a still from a music video as opposed to a gig.
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Brian: The Spirit Store was the perfect venue for Æ Mak and from the off the crowd were up and dancing, forcing me away from the stage very quickly. Each song was choreographed in their set and they brought a different routine which made for great images. I can admit it was difficult to work around the extremely orange front light for the gig, but despite that I lined up this particular shot from the very back of the room. Taken on a Nikon D800 + Nikon 70-200mm at 85mm, 1/100sec, F2.8, ISO 3200
Elephant: A Masterpiece About – And Not About – The Troubles
rmeau Avenue, Belfast: a man crosses the street and enters the Baths. He walks through the lobby, up the stairs and patrols the swimming pool, checking empty stalls along the way. Stalked by the steadicam’s predatory gaze, he snakes through the building, down a corridor and pauses in a bathroom doorway. A shotgun blast splashes the lens with red. He tucks the gun into his jacket and leaves the way he came in. Cut to the slumped corpse of a janitor: we linger long enough to get uncomfortable. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. This Groundhog Day of death is Alan Clarke’s Elephant, a 39-minute film shot in Belfast and aired by BBC2 in January 1989. Liverpool-born Clarke is most known among British cinephiles for his confrontational, violent working-class films, including Tim Roth's skinhead debut in 1982's Made in Britain. Clarke directed a number of innovative television films for ITV and the BBC, reflecting on the political violence of The Troubles in Elephant, Psy-Warriors (1981) and Contact (1985). Elephant was a shocking thing to have invited into your living room. 27 years later it remains an endurance test. The locations and accents give the city away but no other identifying in-
formation or context is offered for the various killings, 18 in all. Sometimes we follow the shooter, sometimes the victim. We never know who the men are or why this is happening. We are simply asked to bear witness. As perverse as it seems, there is a beauty to Elephant. The formal austerity is modernist, thrilling and alienating. Shot entirely on steadicam with almost no dialogue, the looping assassinations take on a hypnotic effect, the repetition threatening to normalise the atrocities. Trapped in this cylinder of everyday horror, unfolding with robotic efficiency, the viewer is invited to experience the numbing pathology that helps make mass-killing possible. Part of the beauty is the urban desolation: the open rooms and industrial emptiness, real-time distance tracked by unbroken photography. The non-sectarian ordinariness of the locations – cafes, workplaces etc. – emphasizes the feeling of violation, while the restraint helps drain the violence of romance and meaning, denying the cathartic rush of Hollywood bloodshed. It is, from start to finish, a thoroughly ugly business. Elephant shares with Clarke’s other NI films the sensation of an altered reality; rogue environments operating according to their own distorted internal logic. A doomed complicity looms over victims and aggressors alike, common members of the conflict's walking dead. Troubles film? Sure; probably the best. Horror movie? You bet. Conor Smyth The complete Alan Clarke collection is released by the BFI on May 23rd via DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD.
May May 2016 2016
Rip It Off and Start Again
– May Kay
t’s an extremely distressing situation. You’ve spent weeks, maybe months on a song. You started off with a devilishly catchy riff (if you don’t say so yourself). You built everything around that, you scrapped some things and started again, still with the same riff, determined to make it work. You put some lyrics on there. Scrap some. Add some new ones. Eventually you finish it. It is the most exciting thing. It really is like all your Christmas’ have come at once. That is, if you like Christmas. If not, it’s like all your Sundays have come at once. If you’re into mass. If not, it’s like all your weddings have come at once. If you’ve enjoyed your many remarriages. You know what I mean. It’s class. You call your mate, they call over for a warm can and some cheese cubes and you play them the song. “Do you like it?” “Yeah, I liked it the first time it was released as well.” You’ve accidentally ripped off ANOTHER song. Devastating. But thank Prince you did ask your mate to call over. Sadly, when this idea gets into your head, particularly when you are under pressure to write songs it is difficult, if not impossible to get rid of the worry. You end up ONLY being able to think of other songs. It’s the opposite to the problem where someone asks you
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during an interview what your favourite song is and you suddenly can not think of one single song that’s ever been written. Anywhere in the world. Ever. And also, I’ve never quite learned how to turn a ‘rip off’ into a ‘homage’. Can someone help me with that? Is it a case of, your album goes to print and you realise you’ve ripped someone off so you quickly call it a ‘homage’ before anybody else calls you a thief? That’s very clever, actually. I’ve only just learned the term ‘lyrical interpolation’. I could be wrong, but my take is that you can basically use someone else’s lyrics so long as you credit them. This has been done so badly by some people and so amazingly well by others. Beyoncé lyrically interpolated all over the shop on her new album. You really have to be a certain degree of mega-famous for that to work out for you. I’m not really trying to suggest that it’s all to cover up for thieving or laziness. I really do think the talent involved in managing to pay homage to and represent something that you didn’t create, but use yourself, whether it be music, art, film while making someone feel honoured and nodded to is pretty amazing. I'm going to lyrically interpolate a few bangers and see where it gets me. MayKay
Photo: Loreana Rushe
Fight Like Apes’ frontwoman May Kay tackles the age-old thin line separating homage and unwitting imitation.
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– Inbound –
mma Garnett AKA Feather has morphed again. While many may know her from the punchy, artistic collaborations with Ben Bix this itineration is something of a departure. Now fully backed by an eight-piece band, she and the group are emerging as a blooded, blended new horizon in Irish music so it’s no surprise that they’re signed up with emerging world conscious independent label Hipdrop Records whose slant towards global sounds, funk, soul and jazz distinguish them from the pack. Take their new single ‘Like No Other’ which works its way through three distinct movements without sounding piecemeal. The comparisons to Erykah Baduh are unavoidable, with all the sleek boho modernity that implies, but there’s also the smooth
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lines of the revolutions in Neo soul and RnB. It’s all about texture and it seems anything goes as long as it complements the final product, so there’s a dreamy folk middle followed up by a contemporary Afro beat heritage finisher. It’s an immediate showcase of talent for the collective force of the group which includes members of Come on Live Long, Tig Linn and the incendiary Mix Tapes from the Underground amongst others. But it’s also a showcase of Garnett’s multiculturalism. Hailing originally from Sierra Leone – and sister of Loah – her music benefits from a dual vantage point and it shows. This is a sound with roots. With the single hopefully a prelude to a lengthier offering this is definitely a group to watch. Eoghain Meakin
Photo: �Moira Reilly
Photo: �Brian Mulligan
hink of the intrigue offered up by the Altered Hours’ more pensive moments, covered in a thick fog of synth scene-setting, and given a dense, distorted, doomy undercarriage. That’s a tame (at best) description of the heavyweight heft brought by Molossus, the new multiple-headed beast comprised of members of The Jimmy Cake, Hands Up Who Wants to Die, and Percolator. The term “supergroup” can (rightly) be frowned-upon in a community as small as Irish independent music, but there’s something here that does feel like the sum of its composite parts and influences, as evidenced by their debut session for The Practice Tapes. ‘Ocras’ burns with tension for its over fourteen minutes, while ‘Sine’ feeds on a certain sense of unknowing. It’s
‘Spiky’, however, that sees the band come into their own, a bruising, impactful groove that bristles under Eleanor Myler’s sultry vocal. The whole session makes for tense, singularly focused listening. The assertion that this may be the sum of its members’ pasts bears some thought. The Jimmy Cake’s recent adventures in long-form improv have definitely left their mark here, yet not in the patience-stretching manner that that project plays with. Likewise, though certain grooves are as hefty as HUWWTD’s more locomotive moments, the aggression gives way to uncertainty and questioning. Perhaps it was inevitable, but in bringing together familiar elements in unfamiliar configurations, something new has emerged. Mike McGrath Bryan
– Inbound –
ith key influences as diverse as Lauryn Hill, Hiatus Kaiyore, Radiohead and Erykah Badu, it comes as little to no surprise that new-fangled Dublin outfit BARQ have swiftly established themselves a curious and potentially singular proposition in the making. Assuredly fronted by Jess Kav – a vocalist who we’ve featured in her own right before – the quartet’s lead single ‘Gentle Kind of Lies’ presents a subtly deft and earworming synthesis of neo-soul, RnB and alternative rock in which Kav’s slick vocals, bolstered by the song’s effects-heavy lead pattern and tight groove, gleams into sharp focus. With production values evidently quite high from the word go here, BARQ’s first opening
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gambit evokes a realm reminiscent of, say, a more leftfield-leaning Lianne La Havas, not least via Kav’s wonderfully expressive delivery throughout. Better still, having evolved to their current form as an original act whilst working together as a hip-hop covers band, their sound – wilfully oblique and perhaps inevitably quite magnificent – betrays all the tell-tale hallmarks of seasoned musicians that know exactly what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. With a string of Summer festival dates including Longitude, Canalaphonic and Groove Festival in the pipeline, we expect some sweet, far-reaching developments in the BARQ camp over the coming months. Brian Coney
Photo: �Pedro Giaquinto
– Inbound –
Inbound New Portals
New Portals up massive bouts of stage experience) as the Jepettos, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the evolution of their sound has been somewhat radical. That being said, it works. ‘Groove Boy’, their latest effort, sees the Belfast-based siblings take the kind of glitz-laden, blissed-out approach to song-craft that has been a popular stalwart of summer dance-floors since 2015 – a kind of confident statement ablaze with tight electro-hooks and infectious rhythms, its foundations firmly laid in ‘70s/‘80s pop music. With just a few examples of what to expect from New Portals currently available online, rumours of a collection of as yet unreleased tracks is utterly tantalising, revisionist by design or not. Aaron Drain
– Inbound –
Photo: Sara Marsden
ollowing in the footsteps of some of the brightest young acts setting the Irish DIY electronica scene alight, New Portals effortlessly blend an airy, anthemic synth ethos with elegantly crafted pop that will see them stand out amongst an increasingly saturated, but solid live circuit. It’s not a total shock they’re gaining such swift momentum either – the media have rightly picked up on what New Portals are capable of – as brother and sister Mike Aicken (vocals, synth, keyboards) and Ruth Aicken (vocals, percussion) should be familiar to those who’ve kept an eye on the NI music community over the past couple of years. Formerly making indie-folk noise (as well as racking
The First Time Áine Stapleton
– Áine Stapleton –
First live concert/gig? Blur, Black Grape and Supergrass at the RDS in 1996.
First time you knew you wanted to make music? I always had an interest, but it wasn't until around 7 years ago a good friend of mine who is also a dancer suggested that we create a band as an experiment. I've loved it ever since.
First local band you got really into? Fuzzy Little Snow Frogs. Some of the members are still rocking out today in other bands.
First original song you wrote? I think it was some lyrics and bass for my last band You Can Call Me Frances and the song was called ‘Undenuck’.
First favourite film soundtrack? The Blues Brothers.
First musical hero you ever met? David Best from Fujiya & Miyagi after their gig with The Fall at the Village in 2006. A very sound man.
– The First Time
First album you bought? Nirvana’s Bleach.
First band t-shirt/jumper? I don't think you could buy band t-shirts in Wicklow and if I went to a concert I'd keep my few pound for a couple of cans. First song to make you cry? Probably Alanis Morissette's ‘Perfect’. I was grounded at the time and played the Jagged Little Pill album really loud on repeat in rebellion. Tough times.
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First gig or performance of your own? A dance performance for the local GAA talent contest in Wicklow. My friend and I made up a dance to 2 Unlimited's ‘No Limits’. All I remember was the DJ cutting the song short and saying, “And we'll be seeing them on Top of the Pops next week”.
Photo: Joe Laverty
Photographer Joe Laverty shoots and delves into the musicmaking, listening and loving firsts of Áine Stapleton of Dublin experimental electronic trio Everything Shook
Feature Moose Electronics
Stevie Lennox talks DIY gear, tone and mentality with Dublin guitar pedal wizard Cian Moose.
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as well as the option of completely custom builds, catering to almost any musician’s whim, from the experimental folk of Villagers to the sludge-doom of Slomatics. How did your passion for pedals begin? I've always really liked distorted/fuzzed bass so it begins there, probably with the bass fuzz on the first two Weezer albums. They used a tall font green Russian Muff so when I saw one of those for sale at the bargain price of 60 euro I jumped on it (they were going for 2-300 online at the time). First thing I did was mod it for more mids then decided to make my own which became the Dobsky. Bands like Dinosaur Jr and Mudhoney with their use of fuzz pedals was a big part of my youth then later when I heard Big Business in my mid-twenties, they really
Photo: Pedro Giaquinto
ack in February Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett made the harmless, but somewhat egregious claim that his new stompbox was the “first time you’ll see a pedal company actually being driven by an actual guitar player”. Meanwhile, in the Real World, the availability of affordable materials, an ear and understanding that can only come with experience and intuition, as well the constantly evolving needs and tastes of artists, create the conditions in which specialist pedal-makers can thrive. One such maker is bassist, guitarist, and tone connoisseur Cian Moose, the man behind growing Dublin-based pedal business Moose Electronics, whose fuzzes, distortions and various modded effects are increasingly popping up pedalboards islandwide. Each comes with a wide range of available mods,
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“Topping them all has to be My Bloody Valentine, no question there.”
sent me off looking for more and more fuzz and distortion sounds. My passion for building really began wanting to try out loads of pedals I couldn't afford so I bought some kits, built those, sold some of them, modded some of them and just kept going from there. What’s your background with regards to music and electronics? I studied popular music for a year after school, then went and did a diploma in Electronics in DIT. Before that, I grew up in a photography studio where my dad also repaired cameras and the like so I've been using a soldering iron since an early age. I also had an uncle who was a radio engineer and I learned a fair bit from working with him as a teenager. After college, I worked as a furniture fitter through the Celtic Tiger years and then when that work dried up I was unemployed for a bit, which is when I got into building pedals.
scious decision to give me time away from them. Then there's Wild Rocket where I get to indulge my love of fuzz bass to its fullest along with modulation effects like phasers, flangers and tremolos. Then there's Worst, which is a new project I'm playing guitar in with more fuzz and lots of toys for making noise/feedback with. Before Worst, some us had a band called Wolfbait which I did noise which involved just pedals/noise boxes without having a guitar in the chain which taught me a lot about the sonic possibilities off effects pedals. Including of course how to use them the wrong way… What kind of bands are you into, especially in terms of informing your output? I like a lot of music mostly involving distorted sounds, heavy psych, stoner/sludge, noise rock, space rock, garage rock. You get the picture... heavy distorted riffs and noise. What are your all-time favourite pedals and sounds, and which records are most crucial in shaping your relationship with them? Nothing will ever touch my love of the 90s
Are you an active player yourself? Yeah, I play in three bands - two on bass and one on guitar. In one of the bass bands, New Gods, I don't use pedals at all which is great and also a con-
Feature Moose Electronics
green Russian Big Muffs that I mentioned earlier. After that it's 70s octave fuzz sounds, like the Ibanez Standard Fuzz/Univox Superfuzz and Foxx Tone Machine. Flower Travellin Band - Satori really kicked off that sound for me but had known of the Superfuzz for years via The Who. Fu Manchu and The Melvins always have killer fuzz and distortion sounds. Big Business, Mudhoney. Dinosaur Jr, Hawkwind, Buttholes Surfers, Witch, Whipping Boy and of course My Bloody Valentine. The tremolo sound on Spacemen 3's ‘How Does It Feel’ made me want to try a Vox Repeat percussion. They're quite hard to find so I built my own a few tweaks and it's since ended up as half of my Moonraker phase/ trem which will get a proper launch later in the year. Are there many others doing what you’re at in Ireland on your scale? There's definitely a few around but not sure if any are bigger or same scale. Two that stick out for me are Jimmy Behan with Super Electric and Ian at Guerrilla Devices. Which artists use your gear? Apart from my own bands mentioned earlier here's a few of them; Slomatics, Villagers, Girl Band, Exploding Eyes, Gnod, Herder, Blown Out, Squarehead, No Spill Blood, Conan, Overhead An Albatross, Wizards Of Firetop Mountain, Headless Kross, Bismuth, Drainland, Harvester, Dread Sovereign and Kid Karate. So, mostly heavy underground bands and some fuzzy garage type stuff that's not so heavy... Which bands do you feel have the best pedal setups in the country? Mine, haha. I'm not sure really, it's such a subjective idea. Slomatics
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always sound amazing so maybe them. Straightforward and effective. Ian from Squarehead/Kid Karate always sounds amazing. Girl Band, Exploding Eyes and Venus Sleeps too. Topping them all has to be My Bloody Valentine, no question there. Not even the Edge comes near. Finally, how does one get into pedals? As a user, buy or borrow them. As a builder, buy some kits of which there's a tonne available for the DIY-er these days. There's also the pedal building workshops run by the lads at maker.ie. Although many of Moose Electronics pedals are custom build to order, his official production range is available on BigCartel, with the options being versions of the Dobsky VB (Bass), Dobsky VG (Guitar), Battlehammer, Sundrive, Grouch, Grouch Bass & Satellite Fuzz. mooseelectronics.bigcartel.com
Feature TheElectronics Black Box Feature Moose
The Black Box Celebrating 10 Years at the Heart of Belfast Culture
lthough initially intended as a mere short term project, over the past ten years, the Black Box has established itself as Belfast’s cultural hub, right at the centre of the thriving Cathedral Quarter. No other venue here dedicates itself to such a wide remit of music, comedy, theatre, film, art, literature and spoken word, both international and homegrown. As it celebrates its tenth birthday, it would seem fitting to recollect its most memorable events, but there are really too many to recall – though the staggering list of names who’ve passed through the venue’s doors include the likes of Tim Robbins, Edwyn Collins, and authors like Chuck Palahniuk and Will Self. It’s no surprise it plays such a vital role in local festivals and events, from Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and Out To Lunch to Belfast Comedy Festival and Culture Night. Incredibly versatile despite literally being just a black box, it’s somehow a perfect setting for any musical act you can think of, simultaneously spacious yet intimate, no part of the room too far from the action, a large stage and a well stocked bar, both in the main venue and in the Green Room, which often plays host to DJ sets from David Holmes among others. It’s hard to imagine where else could have so successfully hosted Aidan Moffat’s recent visit to both screen his new film Where You’re Meant To Be and
accompany it with a live set, and it’s no wonder they managed to lure him here for the film tour’s first foray outside Scotland. It also doesn’t get enough credit for being easily the best comedy venue in Belfast – while the comedy clubs at Queens and the Empire have the biggest reputations and often the biggest names, the Black Box is where you’ll usually find the more intelligent or surreal cult comedians like Tony Law, Bridget Christie or Simon Munnery touring their latest Edinburgh Fringe shows, and it generates a welcoming atmosphere of aficionados with little risk of the performance being derailed by the brainless heckling of drunk students – its location, hidden down cobbled Hill Street, lending it the feel of a secret club only for those in the know. One of the venue’s secret weapons is the ever reasonable ticket pricing, summed up by their tenth birthday celebrations involving ten £10 shows from such legendary returning performers as Shonen Knife, Richard Herring and Robin Ince, who has always seemed utterly at home on its stage, going off on long tangents as if talking amongst friends. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the Black Box has played a huge role in moving Belfast forward these last ten years, transforming this once cultural backwater into an increasingly vibrant artistic centre. Cathal McBride
May May 2016 2016
– Toby Kaar – Cork producer Toby Kaar handpicks a selection of records that have left an indelible imprint on his music and life.
It's often easy to write techno off as kind of mindless or soulless, but it's a very fruitful and dynamic genre of music. This record is such a testament to that - it was kind of a Rosetta Stone moment when I first listened to it. The liner notes of this album talk about René's desire to make a techno album not rooted in the dancefloor, and he achieves that so well. It's ostensibly a techno record, using the genre's palette and tropes, but moves through passages with such a pace that you're never lingering on one scene for very long.
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Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy I don't need to say much about this record. The ultimate concept album, the concept being that you're an asshole.
Pheeroan Ak Laff House of Spirit/Mirth This is one of my favourite albums ever. I found it in Rush Hour Records in Amsterdam and it kind of changed my life, musically anyway. It’s a solo album
Photo: Pedro Giaquinto
Shed The Traveller
Track Record Toby Kaar
made by this jazz drummer in the seventies, and it was unlike anything I’d ever heard when I first picked it up. I had never heard of drum records outside of Buddy Rich, and this was so different.
Oh No Ethiopium I've written before about how much I love Oh No. I just think his beats are so on point and in your face. He's one of those guys where you can tell it's him producing it on first listen. Ethiopium is an album of beats that sample old Ethiopian songs, traditional music and more contemporary Ethiopique funk.
Rick Wilhite Analog Aquarium I’m including this record because I gave away another record I bought around the same time. This record is by Rick Wilhite, who’s a very important DJ/producer/store and label owner from Detroit. It's a house record, I guess, and it has that effortless fuck-it-ness that Detroit artists seem to nail better than anyone else. It sounds really loose, arrangement and mix wise, a lot of the vocals sound like total shit, but it's got charm and soul in bucketloads.
Wareika Hill Sounds No More War EP I remember first hearing this and being blown away by how singular it sounded. I guess it's a reggae/dub EP, but incredibly deep, quite hypnotic. Rolling drum grooves with these rubbery sax lines rising out of them. It was unlike anything I'd ever heard when I first heard it on Alexander Nut's Rinse FM show.
Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night Rumours has ‘Dreams’ so it automatically gets a pass as the best album of all time, but Tango in the Night has, pound for pound, the best collection of songs of all the Fleetwood Mac albums.
Acid Arab The 3 EP's Released on the French label Versatile, these are real Ronseal records. Three EPs of Arabic influenced house music, acid squelches, 303s. A lot of house is rooted in western jazz scales so it was really refreshing to hear these at first.
Feature Rusangano Family
Family Values: Rusangano Family Eoghain Meakin traces the rise and rise of Limerick-based Irish-Togolese-Zimbabwean Rap Collective Rusangano Family Words Eoghain Meakin | Photos Brian Mulligan
usangano Family are tired but they’re still fighting the good fight. Barely back a week from the serious musical showcase that is SxSW they’ve since had a hectic schedule of shows and press dates promoting their full debut album Let the Dead Bury the Dead. But the lethargy can’t dampen their enthusiasm and the band are no more going to let this crucial moment in time pass them by than they’re going to let a cool Dublin day ruin a good photo shoot. The trio of MuRli, God Knows and MynameisjOhn are Ireland’s most celebrated and visible hip-hop act right now. So it’s fitting that they found the time and resources to make it to one of America’s top
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festivals for new acts, an experience that God Knows describes as, ‘life changing bro.’ ‘SxSW was an amazing eye opener,’ adds MynameisjOhn, ‘if you want to do this you have to operate in a certain way.’ Take the album, currently sending the critics gaga, its release (which the group frequently refer to as ‘giving birth’) has in just over a week propelled the band into a new sphere of acknowledgment and appreciation. Yet the process has not always been easy, and while the band admit that they’ve been, ‘very lucky’ with their strong loyal fan base, they’ve also had to maintain the balance; ‘We all have families and jobs that we have to maintain as well,’ says Mynameis-
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jOhn, a common refrain from many top Irish bands. Hence the album being made in ‘periods of being holed up.’ ‘We did work very hard,’ says John, ‘then when we realised we were coming into time we really put the work in. For us the struggle helps the final product. If we went to a studio with a swimming pool out the back and food being served you wouldn’t get the record we’ve got now.’ Despite being a group made of duo vocalists/MCs and a single writer/producer they are sure to stress the album as a product of constant collaboration. ‘What’s very important for us is the family element of it. We share life together so we wanted an album that told our experiences,’ says MuRli. John refers to the album he made with God Knows back in 2014, Rusangano/Family, the genesis of the group sitting here today; ‘When we made the EP with GK it was nearly half and half, I do the music, you do the lyrics. With MuRli’s EP (last year’s Surface Tension) we started to look into it, where you’re from. We had a year and a half period of doing research. Who are the key musicians of Zimbabwe, who are the unknown musicians of Togo? Even geographically where we are located, we are so far away
from those influences and they’re so exotic that you want a bit of Brazilian music, a bit of African music.’ It’s this hybridity that permeates through the album giving it depth without losing focus. It’s a sense of the new and the old that nearly all great music has, especially in hip hop. With the Rusanganos it’s conscious without being contrived. ‘We never set out to do something that’s new,’ states MuRli, ‘but if you ever watch Sky News it’s the same stories again and again and again and you just want to do something new lyrically, change the concepts on everything, and that’s what John does on the beat; something that needs to be heard but people don’t usually have access to.’ Lyrically the lads are only happy to list their influences. Even a cursory listen to the album throws up a who’s who of top MCs. ‘For me when paying homage to anybody I want to honour anyone who came before me but I never want to be nostalgic,’ says God Knows, ‘where you would find a Chuck D line you’ll also find a The Game line because I was born in 1990 and I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t that age.’ MuRli sees this referencing as a bridge, essential for all fans of the art, ‘I mention Rakim and for me, Lil Wayne was that bridge, through him I knew more about Rakim and now I want my brother to know about him.’ Yet the group don’t limit themselves to the annals of rap, there’s an emphasis on education, and on being educated to the best that the situation allows. ‘For presents we give each other books and we do listen to a lot of podcasts,’ says God Knows, ‘always be investing in learning. If you’re ripe you rot, if you’re green you grow. I never want to be at a point where I don’t know what’s going on. We have different interests in different
May May 2016 2016
Feature Rusangano Family
“I want to do for Ireland what no one has done. I want to make history.”
places but we have such an emphasis towards learning.’ It’s a case of what MuRli calls ‘perspective’ and it’s a crucial point for an album constantly wrestling with the issue of social integration. MuRli and Godknows, from Togo and Zimbabwe respectively, have both had the experience of moving from one culture to another and the inevitable confusion and dislocation that can lead to. It’s a dominant theme in their work because it’s dominant in their lives and society. The rappers, in their mid-twenties, are at the head of a
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new generation of Irish people; for the first time there’s a mass generation who are Irish but can trace their roots through different cultures. So when the group talk about identity searching on lead single ‘Lights Out’ are they just considering their own lives or the hundreds like them? ‘Both,’ God Knows answers confidently, ‘for the song ‘Losing my French’ I cried writing that song. I didn’t cry for me because I write in the third person, so my situation might be a little bit sore but imagine it for someone who there might be no hope for.’ MuRli’s quick to agree, ‘I grew up in one culture for ten years of my life and then I’m growing up in a different culture. I know that automatically I’m losing things that made me who I was when I was ten but I’m also acquiring new things. So who is this new person? It’s not only me but thousands of people in Ireland growing up like that. That’s why it is important for us to stress the fact that we are Irish because there’s kids coming up now who shouldn’t have to go through that struggle. By hearing someone like me saying that, they know that option is there.’ In their lyrics it’s clear that it’s not just a thought but a passion. For not only do they have to endure the inner uncertainty of being caught between two cultures but also the outside world that is rarely satisfied to identify the new Irish as truly Irish. The question, ‘But where are you really from?’ is a common one for those outside of a centuries prescribed norm. ‘You’ve got to be an example,’ says God Knows, ‘I’m a walking example. There’s things you’ve got to stand by. Even in our new video we’re saying things that aint been said, so it’s history. Those moments of history that have to be defined. I don’t want my brother to still get that question.’ ‘It’s like I’ll take that loss so that the team can win,’ adds MuRli. ‘It took me
Feature Rusangano Family
years to understand that I had a purpose.’ It’s an issue that they’re well aware is not just about the colour of your skin. Any redefining of a community or a culture is going to be questioned. ‘John grew up in Clare and he gets that, what is he doing hanging out with those boys and playing that music?’ adds MuRli, ‘years down the road, it won’t even cross your mind what people should be doing, so you set that standard. Those negative people will always be there but for most people these kind of issues will be very very small.’ ‘I used to see the word ignorant as a really really bad negative word,’ says John. ‘What I’m starting to realise is that ignorant just means your mind hasn’t expanded, you haven’t had experiences. I see things in a slightly different way when I see people who are ignorant, I don’t blame them, but they need to get out and see more people, get out of the same small town. Break those walls down and something really cool will happen, but build those walls up…’ For Rusangano Family it’s a raison d’étre as strong as making great music. Together they’re bringing an awareness to those who may not have noticed and paving the way for change that may have been another half decade down the line. Yet it’s not their only concern, just take the wonderful and cutting track ‘Isn’t Dinner Nice’ featuring the spoken word artist Denise Chaila; a polemic on the sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle sexism, and sexual violence, in society. If the group are a band of individuals rather than a homogenised blop, (‘we’re like the Justice League,’ says MuRli. ‘Yeah, the Social Justice League,’ jokes John) it only stresses the family element. A family of love and conviction. It’s this conviction that creates the cyclic fuel of the band; they believe in what they say, write
about it, and this pushes them further into the consciousness of the public. So with the album officially flying the Rusangano flag, what does the rest of the year look like? ‘I want to do for Ireland what no one has done. I want to make history,’ says MuRli. ‘Maybe we’re drunk on achievement and tiredness and getting the album finished but we’re going to go as far as we can go,’ adds John. ‘We are very serious about what we’re doing. We want to progress in this. We want to go outside of Ireland. We’re not scared to do it in different places to make it blow up because it’s not contrived, it’s sincere.’ And it’s clear that it is. Whether the message, or the music or the meaning tying both together, it’s delivered with a wellaimed gusto that make Rusangano Family special, if not unique. God Knows sums it up perfectly, ‘Sincerity drives the band. It’s sincerity that makes the shockwaves.’ Eoghain Meakin www.rusanganofamily.com
May May 2016 2016
Feature Or:la Primer Sarah Bowie
Up To Scratch: Introducing Or:la In our first monthly feature in association with Be Kreativ, Aidan Hanratty introduces AVA Festival-bound Derry producer Orla Dooley AKA Or:la
or someone who specialises in upfront parties that play host to on-trend guests, Or:la is remarkably candid about her introduction to electronic music. “Dance-music wise, I remember listening to stuff like Gatecrasher Anthems, which was probably one of the first electronic CDs I bought.” Perhaps that might not be too cool to admit, but through the years such compilations have featured a wide variety of house and trance classics and club-land bangers – in short, a fitting starting point for any budding enthusiast. After learning to play guitar and piano, she turned her attention to Ableton, and a quick-fix Beyoncé edit was the first thing she shared with the world. It’s since had 50,000plus plays on SoundCloud. “If I had known that it would’ve gained over 50k plays I definitely would have self-released it.” This year should see more than just cheeky SoundCloud edits, however: “Although it may seem like I’ve done nothing on the production front, there will be a lot coming out in 2016. Perhaps it’s the perfectionist in me coming out, but I want to make sure everything is up to scratch rather than just sending stuff off to any label.” She’s on the cusp of establishing her own record label alongside Jessica Beaumont,
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with whom she’s already collaborated for some years throwing offbeat parties in Liverpool. “We have been working quietly behind the scenes and the first release will come out when it’s ready. Both Jessica and I are known as perfectionists, but you have to get something like this right.” As well as her regular stint at 24 Kitchen Street, where she plays “bass, choppy percussion and break beats”, Or:la also messes with clubbers’ expectations by hosting gigs in unusual settings for Meine Nacht, the party she set up with Beaumont. One took place in a former Victorian police station, for example, with each event aiming to capitalise on a forgotten or disused space. “We curate and organise everything ourselves including the visual art and it’s just our way of expressing what we love musically and it’s got a real ‘community’ feel.” It’s the openness of the city that allows her to take such risks. “I never intended to stay here for two years after my degree but here I am. I feel that this is mainly down to the music scene; through being in the events business for nearly five years now, there’s just something that keeps me enthused, to build upon what I have established over the past few years. “Being able to play in the city every week is absolutely vital to me, as I get to test out different sounds, and the crowds are generally really open to everything. There’s something for everyone here, while at the same, the scene is not saturated like it is in some other cities.” It’s not just her adopted city that’s got her excited, however. “I’m still pretty young so
Photo: Christopher Flack
I can’t compare to how it was ‘back in the day’ or anything – but it’s great to see more and more people enjoying electronic music nights over generic student nights that play chart music. Between Derry and Belfast, I think we have a really good thing going on here at the minute.” Meine Nacht crossed the water and came to Derry recently, playing host to Irish DJ and producer Hubie Davison, fresh from the ongoing success of his Sanctified EP on Midland’s ReGraded label. And on the Belfast front, Or:la is delighted to be on the bill for the upcoming AVA Festival. “I was delighted to get asked to play after hearing a lot of great feedback about the previous year.” The festival’s inaugural shift famously saw Space Dimension Controller, Bicep and John Daly go wild on Belfast’s first Boiler Room, and this year’s looks set to
improve on an already solid foundation, with hot prospects like Shanti Celeste and Terriers sharing the bill with legends like Optimo, Mano Le Tough and Sunil Sharpe. “I also love how the creators have an eye for emerging talent, I feel that it is just as important to focus on talent at grass roots level, as well as the big names,” she says. Having recently hosted Hessle/Idle Hands wonder-boy Bruce, Meine Nacht will throw a closing party headlined by an as yet unnamed international artist, who Or:la tells us will be making his UK debut at this special rooftop shindig. The summer season should see her drop her debut release on an undisclosed UK label – again, everything’s hush hush with her. With quiet determination and a genuine love to throw great parties, Or:la proves that the raw spirit of club-land is alive and well. Aidan Hanratty
Be Kreativ is a support platform from Beck’s to give up-and-coming creatives an opportunity to showcase their talents in Ireland. Here, and on BeKreativ.ie. We’ll hero YOU, the creatives. So whether you’re a musician, painter, writer, sculptor, fashion designer, coder or beyond… All you have to do is #BeKreativ.
May May 2016 2016
Primer MacAree FeatureFuschia Bad Bones
Bad Bones Paul O’Connor excavates the impetus and art of Dublin producer and visual artist Sal Stapleton Interview Paul O’Connor | Photos Joe Laverty
nder the moniker of BAD BONES, Dublin based producer and visual artist Sal Stapelton has spent 2016 eking out a series of stunning singles and videos on a monthly basis. With dark but infectious beats that combine rich textural layers of synths and choral vocals with her own heavily processed vocal melodies each single has taken themes of sexuality and power exploring them in different ways. Next month sees the release of the fifth of
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these video singles, which she says makes up one complete “visual EP”. Stapleton is a multifaceted creator. A musician, producer, visual artist as well as running the multimedia events Seasons in Dublin. Cutting her teeth as a punk musician around the Dublin/Wicklow DIY scene, the last year has seen her emerge as a both a producer and a videographer to be reckoned with. Each video is shot in monochrome colours and features an intimate performance to
Feature Bad Bones
camera distorted through visual effects and recurring images of the physical and natural world as well as a head immersed in clouds meant to symbolise “living in another world and slowly losing your grip on reality”. BAD BONES explores and interrogates notions of love, sex, power and weakness. Continuing on from the menacing domination of March’s ‘LANG’. her latest single ‘COME’ shows a more vulnerable side hinging around the line ‘When you come and go, I feel so alone’. “‘COME’ is a song that is an expression of weakness and longing for more commitment. I was listening to a lot of Gregorian chants while producing ‘COME’ and the vocal hook I had written originally for another song but felt the words needed to be expressed better musically.” “I wanted something sonically to convey sadness, a very heavy sub bass and the pitched down/low male sounding vocal. To me, this sounds like crying or an expression of weakness.” “The strings and high vocal at the end lift the heaviness of the song, their chopped, reversed repetition, represents time passing.” “When I write music, it has a sort of unpredictability about it. I chop up and manipulate everything in a song. Something I start writing today, will sound totally different after I’ve spent a while with it. Songs are like Jig-saws to me. They’re made up of many ideas and hooks I’ll have recorded over some time. Some will work together and some won’t but, that’s what makes this sort of thing so fulfilling. When they fit together, it’s like resolving a problem. Almost like therapy.” “[For each track] I make subtle changes through vocals, dynamics and pace the different tracks, still keeping them within the sonic and visual blueprint they all stem from. There’s definitely a different vibe for all of them.”
“There’s certain sounds I am definitely drawn to when producing a BAD BONES track. Different emotions can be expressed with different sounds. Drums and bass are an expression of my power and confidence; airy vocals show a lustful and sometimes vulnerable side to me. These sort of themes and sounds are carried though out them all.” “I work as a VFX Artist/Designer by day and I don’t have much spare time to make these videos. It’s always a mad rush to get them finished, but deadlines are good for me. I would be tweaking them for the rest of my life, and they would never see the light of day. It’s so important to let things go and make mistakes, learn from it and see what you can do differently next time round. That’s pretty much the way my whole creative process goes.” “It’s not glamorous at all. I green screen myself first, usually. I set it up in my room, I put the camera on a tripod and film whatever I think I’ll need. Then everything happens in post.” “I composite and animate everything around me in After Effects. I don’t storyboard anything for these videos, it’s all free styled and developed organically from a single visu-
“Drums and bass are an expression of my power and confidence; airy vocals show a lustful and vunerable side to me.” May 2016
Feature Bad Bones
al idea I thought of while producing the music. Then comes editing and I make myself look chopped up and skewed like the music. It’s really cool that it happens pretty organically, I try not to over think it, otherwise the meaning in the imagery will be lost for me.” “I am kind of impatient so if I have an idea, I try to gain the tools and skills I need to make it happen. I don’t want to be waiting around for someone else to do it for me. There’s nothing more satisfying then figuring out a problem or learning a new technique that will help build towards something great.” “The D.I.Y punk scene I grew up in was a great source of support and encouragement. Every week we would all get together and play gigs, in some scout den, a hall or an abandoned building somewhere. It really didn’t matter where it was, it was the people that occupied the space that made it so special. It really helped develop the creative
“I think there’s still a huge need for more creative spaces, for people to perform and create in.”
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and technical/problem solving part of my personality. And it’s one of the reasons I think we humans can do anything we put our minds to.” “Unfortunately, when we all got older the D.I.Y scene that I was a part of fizzled out. One of the main reasons, lack of spaces. I think there’s still a huge need for more creative spaces, for people to perform and create in. I hear of a few groups around Ireland who are D.I.Y, but it’s getting harder to keep hold of buildings they accommodate, as leases are lost all the time. It’s such a shame because there’s a huge need for them.” “For me in recent years, D.I.Y has been pretty none existent locally, until I started SEASONS with Karen and Louise. That felt quite like the gigs from years ago. But even finding a space for it is proving super hard, due to the live music aspect. So, we sadly had to cancel SPRING and now we eagerly await SUMMER.” Paul O’Connor
Primer Fuchsia MacAree
Photos: �Mark Earley
In the latest installment of Primer a regular Thin Air feature looking at some of the country’s brightest artist talents - Mark Earley chats to one of Dublin’s foremost illustrators, Fuchsia Macree. Hello Fuchsia. How and when did a career in design first come onto your radar? And, what did you do about it? I came along the classic art school/ graphic design route to illustration. In school it was always what I was going to do, even when I was in school and didn’t really understand what graphic design was or have a name for it. I went to NCAD and did Visual Communication there, then did a Masters in London in Illustration for a year. I had been doing freelance jobs in college and it all just somehow worked out in that commissions started properly coming in as I left college, so thanks to the world for that. I almost feel like I’ve been surfing along this wave without having to make any huge decisions, so I just won’t make any sudden movements and everything will be fine. You’ve worked with magazines, restaurants, large corporate compa-
Tell us about some of the projects you have on the go at the moment. Which ones are particularly exciting? I’m doing a very cool top secret
nies, small scale print shops, close friends and more. How do you decide who you work with/for? What drives your decision to take or not take a job? I really like having a balance of big projects for larger clients alongside smaller things like posters for friends and quicker, more ephemeral stuff. If a dream commission comes in I feel like I can always find the time though even if it means having a stressful week, but then I burn myself out and have to take it easy for a bit.
May 2016 May292016
Primer Fuchsia MacAree
thing at the moment which won’t be revealed until the end of the year, so keep an ear out for that very vague thing. It’s by far the biggest project I’ve worked on though. Otherwise RIGHT NOW I’m working on a large piece for Airbnb which is fun because it has to involve some sort of audience participation in it. So it’s a combination of creative freedom but with this extra caveat, so its pushing my creativity in different ways. I’m also doing some posters, maps, editorial pieces and posters. The usual! From where and from whom do you get inspiration? I started doing a bit of teaching and having a few hours of week just talking about ideas is really inspiring, it reminds me of all the possibilities of work. Aside from that I feel you’ve got to be constantly consuming culture, and view your practise as a part of this rather than existing in a vacuum. Also I went to Tayto Park on Saturday and today I have to draw Tayto Park as part of a commission, does that count as getting inspiration?
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“Don’t be afraid to put your own personality into your work, that’s what people look for. Be sound.”
What Irish artists are impressing you at the moment? And why? Ruan Van Vliet and Cait Fahey who I share my studio with are deadly. Loads of members of Illustrators Ireland are amazing. Kathy Tynan’s paintings are quietly beautiful. You’ve included a piece you made based on the ‘Repeal the 8th’ campaign to highlight abortion rights. Can you
Primer Fuchsia MacAree
tell us about the process? This is a little drawing I did for the sake of it during some downtime, and a blatant attempt to push an agenda here. I made it like it do all my work - an idea, a rough sketch, then I draw into Photoshop with a drawing tablet, and move different elements around and play with colour as I go. What makes up a standard day in your working life? How much hard work goes into being a successful designer? I usually arrive in the studio around 10, procrastinate for a bit, fall into a work fog for hours and hopefully emerge at the other side. I end up spending a lot of time in the studio but it doesn’t feel like hard work, as cheesy as that sounds. I don’t mind doing late nights which probably helps. Otherwise I do a bit of the aforementioned tutoring in illustration and design in NCAD, which is just a few hours a week but definitely helps to take me out of myself.
If not design, what other career path could you see yourself following? If I wasn’t doing this I’d probably be staring at the wall procrastinating, in a job I don’t like, and having a terrible time of it. Finally, for all the budding designers out there looking to make their move into the freelance world, what advice would you give them? Make loads and loads and loads of work. It’s the only way you’re going to develop your own style, there’s never going to be a shortcut to it. Spend time trying out new things not worrying about the outcomes and then look back and see what works and what doesn’t. Draw from real life, sketch all the time. And as long as you’re not being exploited or taken advantage of, do as much freelance work as comes your way. Don’t be afraid to put your own personality into your work, that’s what people look for. Be sound. fuchsiamacaree.tumblr.com
Ciaran Lavery Let Bad In With his rumpled suit, rural back-story and battered guitar, not to mention the genre-hopping back catalogue and considerable streaming success, it might appear to be so far, so peakbeard for Ciaran Lavery. Yet on Let Bad In, the fast-rising Aghagallon singer-songwriter seamlessly welds together hip-hop beats, chamber balladry and soulful pop across ten addictively melodic tracks that demand repeated plays. This genre-hopping could sound calculating and impersonal but the album is more than held together by that glorious voice. Lavery’s enunciated delivery on album highlight ‘Return to Form’ transforms into a soulful rasp by the time the chorus comes
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round. This full length follow-up to debut album Not Nearly Dark is a showcase of the artist in complete control of his craft. On the title track Lavery intones that “Once you let bad in you cannot close the door.” By the time the desolate strum of ‘Train’ ushers the album to its finale, only the hardest of hearts would close the door on spinning this record again. Jonny Currie
Mothers & Fathers Gaze Pamela Connolly and Dave Balfe, otherwise known as Mothers & Fathers, recently dropped their debut EP Gaze, a compilation of four
tracks – or statements as they like to put it – that criticise the notion of the male gaze, ultimately destroying it through characters that inhabit their lyrical narratives. Fuelled by the desire to reflect the beauty and horror of their immediate culture, as well as the pulsating urge to escape the pale greys that blanket the Dublin city estates, they are one of very few contemporary Irish acts that make a musical reflection of their immediate surrounding and worldview. Their style, self- dubbed ‘estate-pop’, sees them rebel against typical pop music, creating a sound that is intoxicating, honest and thought-provoking. Whether you look to hypnotic soundscape ‘Gush’, the ghostly trip-hop of highlight ‘Gush’, the more downbeat groove of ‘Splits’ or closer ‘Muck’, bubbling beats, haunting melodies, distorted electronics infuse with captivating to create something offbeat and vibrant that is not only unique but also seeming to embrace a would-be alternative sub-genre. An ideal introduction to this emerging Dublin pair. Paula Murphy
Mossy Nolan The Exile EP Mossy Nolan’s follow-up to his self-titled album of 2012 is an equally distinctive, if more concise, set of otherworldly folk music. Though it contains only three songs, The Exile feels expansive, with each of its narratives unfolding at its own unhurried pace. While Nolan’s debut mixed traditional pieces with new compositions, each of these songs is an original – in both senses of the word. They combine the idiosyncrasy of Nolan’s lyrical perspective with a quality of being outside time. Once again, the guitar and bouzouki form the backbone, although the treatment and embellishment of the instruments is now more elaborate. Throughout, an intriguing tension emerges
between the floating, disembodied melodies and the sense of nearness evoked by Nolan’s vocals – on occasion his breaths between lines register with the same expressive closeness as his singing. Listening, one feels drawn into proximity with the singer a sensation that peaks with ‘Inherited’ and its haunting image of when “the healers came and opened up your chest/and all the bad ran clear”. David Tupin
September Girls Age Of Indignation “I am reborn” goes the opening track of September Girls’ second LP. But while the album isn’t a complete rebirth – the band still operate at the intersection be-
tween fuzzy noise pop and post-punk - it does find the band continue their gradual build of ambition. That opener, the 6 and a half minute ‘Ghost’, demonstrates the musical ambition straight away, building from slow burning intro to pummelling conclusion, while lyrically it’s worth listening through the hazy production, with ‘Catholic Guilt’ taking on the church’s stifling effect in Ireland, particularly on women, while ‘Jaw On The Floor’ tackles the obstacle of apathy in the way of equality and the short sharp shock of ‘Blue Eyes’ addresses domestic abuse and victim blaming. While it’s depressing that these things still need to be addressed in 2016, it’s exciting to hear a band channel this anger and energy so directly. The title track’s infectious chorus harmonies are also a highlight, but if the album has a fault it’s that their trademark sound does leave little room for variety. The intensity makes up for this though - the fire in their bellies is palpable, and the album’s title stands as an unmistakable mission statement. Cathal McBride
Live Ciúnas: An Evening of Quiet Songs
Ciúnas: An Evening Of Quiet Songs CONNOLLY’S OF LEAP, CORK
Top: Sam Clague; Below: Pine The Pilcrow; Inset: I Have A Tribe
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Photo: Joe Laverty
e arrived in early to Ambiguous Fiddle’s curated Ciúnas: An Evening of Quiet Songs’ at Connolly’s of Leap, catching a spin over with the night’s opener Chris McDonald. There’s a saying: the easy ease. Where everything comes together, eased into place. It’s when you nod and smile because you feel the vibe you’re after is right there, coming together, heading for the sweet spot. We arrived in and there it, the sweet spot, was: the artists – McDonald, Pine The Pilcrow, I Have A Tribe and Sam Clague – soundchecked, the Connolly’s crew set up; the candle-lit seating, the meet and greet and the room temperature. All the details attended to, quietly filling the room for a night of songs. Quiet is powerful when you feel it. Words and photos by Jason Lee
Live Mission of Burma
Mission of Burma w/Slow Riot OPIUM ROOMS, DUBLIN
Photo: Moira Reilly
ew bands have reformed as gracefully as post-punk legends Mission of Burma, who in 2002 picked up exactly where their short career had left off twenty years earlier, and tonight’s career spanning set shows they’re still not prepared to become a mere nostalgia act. After a solid support set from Limerick’s Slow Riot, Burma still sound half their age, as if that hiatus never happened, powering through ‘That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate’ with the same energy and vitality as in 1982. While all three members on stage take turns on vocals, bassist Clint Conley’s more anthemic numbers like ‘Dirt’ and the clas-
sic ‘That’s When I Reach For My Revolver’ steal the show, his ageless voice as sweetly melodic as ever, and with his huge ringing chords he remains one of post-punk’s great bass heroes. It’s notable how well the later material stands up alongside the old, particularly Obliterati highlights like ‘2wice’, and Bob Weston’s tape loops from offstage add extra layers of discordance, still swirling samples of ‘Red’ around the venue after they’ve left the stage. They joke about their once famous inconsistency, but that seems to be just about the only quality this band have left in the past. Cathal McBride
May 2016 2016 May
Not Gospel Prince
– Not Gospel
hen I was 18, and ready to embark on my journey to leave home for university, I sat down with a good friend to discuss music. He’d brought with him a copy of David Bowie’s masterpiece Hunky Dory, suspecting that the occult folk musings would chime with me. I brought a copy of 1999, certain that he needed to hear the clipped artfunk of ‘Lady Cab Driver’, a song that finds Prince making love to the entire universe, and letting us know about it. Needless to say, that was a good day for both of us. My love of Bowie is limited to his mid-70s and early 80s albums, but my devotion to Prince is as deep as the day is long. Whether it be his early soul funk grooves, his psychedelic whimsy, or his spiritual R&B, there’s always something in his music that grabs me. Even at his most diluted, when he was making music that was seriously lacking in the ‘soul’ department, there was always something happening that couldn’t be easily written off. But where I can look back on Bowie as an innovator, a musical magpie who could cherrypick the most fascinating music out there, and bend it to his own will, Prince is something else entirely. He might have written some of the best singles of the 80s and 90s, but they are merely the entry point into his com-
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plex and multi-layered worldview, something expanded upon in his albums and concerts. To love Prince, to truly LOVE him, is to embrace – at least on some level – that this man existed in a different galaxy than the rest of us. Throughout his career, he espoused variations on a philosophy, a deeply religious perspective where God and sex were utterly wrapped up in each other, and a concrete belief that the world could be a better place. Yes, he was clearly a musical master, no-one is disputing that. But the true genius of Prince lies in his ability to make all of his art interconnected to his philosophy, and his own persona. Prince IS the music, which in turn IS his ideas. He was an artist who felt that listening to his music, and embracing his ideas might actually make the world a better place, a la Bill and Ted. Listen to him, and one day we will all take our place in Paisley Park, with perfection and love for all. I got a better deal than my pal, as when I went to university, I was able to say I was into Bowie, whereas he was in the first flush of love with Prince, and espoused his love of electro-funk to all and sundry. So, if nothing else, thank you to Prince for making me look cooler than my INFINITELY cooler friend, even if it was just for a little while. Steven Rainey
Illustration: James Sheridan
– Strange Relationship
88mph Marvin Gaye What's Going On
Marvin Gaye What's Going On
fter years as part of the runaway Motown success story, Marvin Gaye began to ponder his life and work. Social change, Vietnam, and the premature death of his regular singing partner Tammi Terrell led him to question if love songs and the dance floor were enough. The stage had already been set by Sly and the Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield and more, and Marvin felt compelled to act on his feelings. As Gaye formulated his new direction he was faced with resistance from Motown boss Berry Gordy who, with commercial concerns and fearing a loss of control, was blind to the potential. Marvin demonstrated his conviction by going on a recording strike. Eventually, with the covert assistance of some allies in the Motown executive, pressings of the title track hit the record stores and proceeded to fly off the shelves. The dollar signs surprised Gordy and his eyes were opened. Marvin got the go-ahead. It could have been simply a great soulful-record-with-message but What's Going On delivers much more on every level. Gaye goes above and beyond with a fully formed concept piece, tackling multiple issues via
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intermingled musical suites with themes and hooks tying it together in a song cycle style. Add to that melodies to die for, lush arrangements, seamless blending of gospel, jazz and orchestral styles in a soul context and top all this with arguably the smoothest vocals ever recorded and you have the complete artistic statement. On paper, highlighting such hard hitting subjects as inequality, war veteran reintegration, spirituality, and heroin addiction should not sound as good as this does. Marvin even draws attention to the plight of the Earth's ecosystem decades before global warming was heard of by most. Musical context however makes the reportage easy to swallow. A blend of the Motown crack session team (The Funk Brothers) and some of Marvin's personally selected musicians lay down timeless grooves with ease. The core band are augmented with subtle string and horn arrangements and the overriding effect is always sympathetic to the song and its subject. 45 years on and, almost inevitably, the themes are still relevant today (green issues even more so). Marvin didn't invent socially conscious soul music, but with What's Going On he perfected it. Jonathan Wallace
Agony Uncle England
Agony Uncle Agonising? Le Galaxie's Michael Pope is here to help.
He drinks a whiskey drink. He drinks a vodka drink. He drinks a lager drink. He drinks a cider drink. Who is the greatest living English person, in your opinion? Ger, Sligo John Gregg, the founder of the Greggs bakery chain. What epitomises English culture for you? Maeve, Kilkenny Greggs, the UK’s largest bakery chain.
Illustration: Loreana Rushe
If you could pick any song to be England’s national anthem what would you go for? Rachel, Cork Greggs’. It’s the ZZ-Top classic ‘Legs’ but with the word GREGGS instead of LEGS. Sample lyrics ‘She’s got Greggs and she knows how to use it...’ If you could replace members of Le Galaxie with famous English musicians who would you choose? Barry, Meath I could only be in a band with someone who could successfully own and operate a Greggs franchise in the heart of a major metropolitan city. So by that logic... Joe
McElderry, Sting, the drummer from Ash and Bonehead from Oasis. If England had BritPop and Girl Power in the 90s, what was the Irish equivalent? Siobhan, Galway I dunno but it would have something to do with the UK’s largest bakery chain Greggs. Who would win a drunken bar brawl between Jeremy Corbyn and George Osborne? Emma, Cork They wouldn’t even get past the first punch. I’d place myself in the middle of any escalating kerfuffle and plead with them to make peace over a Greggs Spicy Chicken and Peperoni Lattice. Le Galaxie have played England a few times. Any highlights or strange tales? David, Dublin Take a wild fucking guess. As we’re well aware, England and Ireland have had some… history. But what do you feel both nations have in common? Keith, Altlone THERE WILL BE NO PEACE UNTIL WE GET A GREGGS. Which I’m told will be in an Applegreen some time later this year so I guess then or whatever I dunno … I just like Greggs.
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