Photo: Bríd O'Donovan
BANTUM - Take It (feat. Loah)
Info: Cork native and Dublin-based electronic solo artist Ruairí Lynch released his debut album, Legion, under the moniker of BANTUM back in 2012, since then he has released a slew of singles and also remixes for other acts, which was how I myself (very belatedly) was introduced to his music last year. Today sees the release of his second LP, Move, which contains a couple of collaborations with upcoming and more familiar Irish musicians such as Loah (who I had the pleasure of seeing at the recent HWCH festival), CC Brez, Rusangano Family and Farah Elle, who those keeping an eye on the underbelly of independent music will be aware of already.
There is no subtle introduction to Move, an industrial sharp and tinny progression is pumped out of the blocks, there is no time to settle into proceedings, as plonky beats and warped effects join the fray on the title-track, if you weren't aware of BANTUM before, two minutes into this opener you're already starting to construct an understanding. An opening restraint, and dark yet hopeful spacial beauty are summoned on second track, 'Pacing', which is dedicated to the hugely gifted minimalist piano composer Conor Walsh who sadly passed earlier this year. At the 1:30 mark we are grooving in space with the Corkonian cosmonaut, planets are spinning and stars are streaking, and the mood is forceful yet chilled at the same time. This is cinematic soundtrack stuff.
BANTUM - Voodoo Sweat (feat. CC Brez & Louize Carroll)
On 'Feel Your Rhythm' with the aforementioned Rusangano Family and Senita on backing vocals, we're treated to a modern imprint on 90's house music, I'm musically recalling Glasgow's Blue Boy and their 1996 Scattered Emotions EP, whilst Rusangano also appear, to my ears at least, to be drawing on early noughties hip-hop sounds, all to the backdrop of an echoed twiddling guitar sequence which fades in and out in time with the song.
'Feel It Out' with Farah Elle touches on slightly more grime tones, I'm in Sneaker Pimps territory here, both with the pace of the track and her vox which are reminiscent of Kelli Alli on '6 Underground'. It's sleak and calm and the motion is hypnotic right up to it's abrupt ending. Perhaps the closest we get to BANTUM's previous work is on 'Take It' (feat. Loah - top video), again Lynch is masterful in how he uses the motion of music, which acts like a deliberately off-key harmony with Loah's singing. The guitar-playing then comes forward at the 2:30 mark, a deliciously blues-funk addition to the track which is borderline spoiling the listener.
As a fan of CC Brez's music also, it was great to witness both mutually leaving their mark on each other on 'Voodoo Sweat' (feat. CC Brez & Louize Carroll). The former Republic of Loose man's ever-evolving exploration of different styles of genre-spanning guitar-playing has been all brought together at once on this track and it's amazing. Bread and (a thin spread of ) butter blues with overt funk and searing 70's rock riffage all melt across the fret-board, but intriguingly are encased in BANTUM's trademark electronic sound. This would have been a good one to stick on the Golden Record that NASA sent into space on Voyager, next time maybe.
Firmly with feet back on his stomping ground once again with final track, 'Already There' (feat. Weisman) we get a full experimental, digital electro blow-out, an enchanting piece of escapism which is sonically wholesome, no quarter given, unless of course, you listen carefully to the closing 16 seconds. Where Legion saw BANTUM's first landing, a full embracing of his musical intuition spread across a longer album, Move casts not one, but multiple nets away from that centre. There's no doubt that more people will be drawn to the album as a result, little doorways open up all across it's seven tracks for music fans of many styles and genres, but with his talent to be heard touching everything. Ruairí Lynch is probably the most competent and adventurous electronic artist in Ireland right now, and Move is easily an album of the year for 2016.
Record Store Day 2016 scoop, listen here.
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