Saturday, 19 January 2019

Album Review: Gareth Quinn Redmond - Céim•eanna

Gareth Quinn Redmond - Céim•eanna

Multi-instrumentalist and ambient act Gareth Quinn Redmond released his latest album Céim•eanna earlier this week, continuing what is turning into quite the prolific output from the Dublin musician, his third album in just under 2 years. Of the record itself he shares; "Once again, I am writing within Satoshi Ashikawa's concept of Environmental Music but developing it through a modern lens inspired by how we engage with music on a day to day basis. It is designed to engage, enrich and reflect one's ever changing surroundings."

Any number of superlatives can consistently apply to Quinn Redmond's work; escapist, calming, imaginative and cosmological to list but a few, but the most important impression I have had is a long-lasting residual effect on the soul, figuratively speaking. It's hard not to tie his three albums to date together in sequence, a trilogy (which may continue yet) marking a journey for the listener, and a reflective voyage of self-discovery. Céim•eanna takes gentle steps onward from last year's Gluaiseacht, the latter in turn doing the same from 2017's Laistigh den Ghleo (as an aside albums 1 & 3 do not connect in my view without 2).

Opening with it's title-track, deft and faltering piano keys grow in strength alongside a more assertive keyboard progression, finding their feet until GQR slowly pushes the musical boat out into his latest landscape which begins to unfurl just before the six-minute mark. Segmented pace is everything with the artist, and when the violin joins the beautiful fray at 6:32 we reach self-administered mini-injections of euphoria, don't give them too much too early. It is difficult not to completely submit to the passage of play that sweeps through the track's final 3 minutes, it is intense, an enchanting madness worthy of any film score.

'Séimh' is an Irish word I've always loved, a kind of feeling version of onomatopoeia. Very appropriate for the sounds we hear here, its multiple translations include the English words calm, mellow, genial and placid. The second track twinkles, a light in the corner of a dark room that pulsates between bright and dim, like a paranormal sequence of Morse code starting its long trip through time to a destination and intended recipient that only it knows. Haute ambience!

A hopeful spring of wonder arrives in the shape of 'Dathanna', beginning with a piano that sounds like it has been played by a thousand different pianists over centuries, a warm and comforting energy gets its slow release, peaking at the third minute. Again this strikes me as a piece that would not be amiss in a silent documentary examining contemporary human behaviour and society, I can't remember if I've referenced this previously to Gareth Quinn Redmond's music, but specifically I think of the breathtaking and wonderfully rudderless observations of 1982's Koyaanisqatsi or Bernard Hill's series Wild China (muted!).  

Quinn Redmond goes for expansive broad-ranging realms again on the 12-minute plus 'Lonrú' (shine / illuminate), a place where he seems most at ease, and where I enjoy residing most. It's the sweetest meander, on your back and afloat, mind wiped clean of the world. On the surface, like any long track, the trick is to give the listener the impression of aimlessness, and then, with great patience, hit them with the mother-load of exhilaration when they are at their most lost. GQR has an innate mastery when it comes to this modus operandi, and the shot in the arm here lands precisely for me at 7:26 with the forceful bloom of the strings. Towards track's end, he overhauls it all and reverts to the opening, we're back in the room with that old piano that opened 'Dathanna', magic.

Like a stripped down live old soul or blues record by a solo artist (little bit Nina Simone!) we encounter final track 'Tar Éis'. It's quite a heart-breaking affair, and after only one minute I don't want it to go anywhere else, I just want it to continue as is indefinitely. The artist won't play ball however, and he's right not to, veering steadily into electronic ambient territory, a pull-push vs. the raw piano notes, like a morphing orb, that light in the corner of the dark room finally extinguishes, and we're left alone in total darkness, surrounded by nothing.

Céim•eanna by Gareth Quinn Redmond was released on the 15th of January, and is available to download / stream on Bandcamp and Spotify below;

Gareth Quinn Redmond - Céim•eanna Album Review

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The Midnight Organ Fight Revisited - Homage Live Show to Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison @ The Pepper Canister Church

Scott Hutchison - Frightened Rabbit

A host of Irish bands come together to remember the late Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit in Dublin’s Pepper Canister Church as part of the First Fortnight festival this Saturday night, the 19th of January.

Now in its tenth year First Fortnight is a music and arts festival that aims to challenge mental health stigma and to create an open discussion and understanding of mental health.

HamsandwicH, Columbia Mills, The Young Folk, FIELDS and Amidships will all perform tracks from the critically acclaimed album The Midnight Organ Fight with all proceeds going to First Fortnight and the Scott Hutchison Foundation.

For those that missed out on tickets to this sold out show, you can email to be put on the waiting list should any become available.

Midnight Organ Fight Revisited by Jacob Stack
By Jacob Stack

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The Last Mixed Tape announces its 5th Anniversary Line-Up at The Sound House, 7th February

TLMT 5 - The Last Mixed Tape

One of Ireland's most valuable music critics, Stephen White, celebrates the 5th year of The Last Mixed Tape at The Sound House in Dublin on Thursday, 7th of February. As with previous years, TLMT has arranged a mouth-watering line-up comprised of Sorcha RichardsonJackie Beverly and Dowry. Like The Last Mixed Tape itself, these shows have become annual highlights for fans of independent Irish music. Previous acts who have performed at the yearly celebration include Swords, Paddy Hanna, Montauk Hotel, Bad Bones, September Girls, Beauty Sleep and other quality acts which have shaped the local music scene in their own unique way. 

TLMT has garnered a solid and reliable reputation amongst bands and music fans as a place where analyses of music is conducted in a most impartial manner, but more importantly, he backs up his written word with evidence. On a personal level, and this probably isn't the most appropriate place to state this (but a half-decade is a landmark achievement!), my respect for his views on music grows year on year since I started reading The Last Mixed Tape, not to mention his unwavering support for Irish artists. He'll hate me saying all this, but it is what it is, I don't want to inhabit an Irish music landscape where TLMT does not exist, so let's celebrate!

Taking place at the Sound House, Dublin on Thursday, February 7th TLMT 5 will feature live performances from acclaimed songwriter and TLMT favorite Sorcha Richardson, Sorcha’s recent single ‘Can’t We Pretend’ featured in TLMT’s Top 10 Songs Of 2018. 

Jackie Beverly will also appear as part of the line-up, Beverly's debut single 'Out of Reasons' featured in TLMT's Top 50 Songs of 2018. Dowry, will perform at TLMT 5 next month, the multi-instrumentalist, whose debut single was the breath-taking ‘In É’, recently made TLMT's 10 Emerging Artist for 2019. See below for music from all three artists.

Founded in 2014, the Last Mixed Tape is run my music critic Stephen White and has dedicated the last five years to covering all aspects of the Irish music scene and supporting acts coming out of the country. 

Tickets to TLMT 5: Sorcha Richardson / Jackie Beverly / Dowry live at the Sound House on February 7th are priced at €10 and are on sale now via eventbrite. Doors are at 8pm.