Saturday, 3 February 2018

Album of the Month: Gareth Quinn Redmond - Laistigh den Ghleo

Gareth Quinn Redmond - Laistigh den Ghleo

Info: Conceptually derived from the work of Japanese minimalist composer Satoshi Ashikawa, I have attempted to compose an album which engages, enriches and reflects one’s surroundings – an environmental music. In the liner notes of his 1982 album Still Way, Ashikawa explains the concept of his work, and discusses how he sought to write music, which acted as an "object or sound scenery to be listened to casually… it should drift like smoke and become part of the environment surrounding the listener's activity. In other words, it is music which creates an intimate relationship with people in everyday life.” 

My personal hope is that my album helps the listener engage and discover their surrounding environment in a manner they haven’t experienced before, and that it subsequently draws further attention to the life and work of Satoshi Ashikawa. To him, 'Laistigh den Ghleo' is dedicated. 

Around this time last year Dublin musician / composer Gareth Quinn Redmond sent me an EP of his titled Home Recordings Vol. II: Just Home Now. I really liked it, it has since been erased from the webosphere. While I recall it's sparseness and mixture of folk with classical music, I like the idea that he has chosen to wipe the slate clean (hopefully however, he has retained it on a hard drive somewhere for historical purposes!).

I can safely say though that his newest output, Laistigh den Ghleo, is very separate from that previous release both thematically and musically. Redmond seems to have leapt very far in terms of both concept and how the music he is creating affects him. In the context of this album, the English translation would roughly read 'within the struggle', with the struggle itself being co-existence with ones present environment. It's a contradictory word in the Irish language which can express aggression and calm depending on how it's used, here we definitely have the latter. 

From Foclóir Uí Dónaill - 1977 (added by Remy)

Across its 40-plus minutes the album creates an off-beat mildly electronic feel of what you might expect from a live recording of a Keith Jarrett concert, a composer who incidentally recorded his greatest live solo piano masterpiece, The Sun Bear Concerts in Kyoto, Osaka, Sapporo, Tokyo and Nagoya in 1978. From the album's beginnings Redmond puts emphasis on disconnecting ourselves from everyday (non) challenges and self-conceived problems. 

The album's title-track is a sprawling 11-minute drip-feed of calm, and you wouldn't expect any less on such a composition, it would be wrong if it were omitted. The slow build-up is pain-stakingly gradient, tiny sliver by sliver, delicately placed upon each other, reaching an epoch at the 5:30 mark, before descending back downwards.

'Titim na hOíche', or 'Night Fall' is 100% in the Jarrett zone, in his live concerts he would sit down at a piano and play something for the first time ever, which made his concerts must have albums, there were no studio versions, Jarrett, while performing, and his audience, were hearing the same thing for the first time ever. Here it feels the same, Redmond submissive to his piano, the keys leading and him following, but with an over-arching idea circling. 

Following the transient 'Athrú', we arrive at another piece of beauty, 'An Gairdín Uirbeach' ('The Urban Garden), the song's title lends itself to a bustling and noisy environment, and the music is anything but, perhaps a deliberate contrast of being placed somewhere that should be a haven of peace but is infiltrated by its outside surroundings. There's a very strong chance that the full introduction of strings at 2:55 might snap your heart in two, it's overwhelming and will gut the hardest of souls.

Redmond brings the heavy red velvet curtain of Laistigh den Ghleo slowly down with one final opus, 'Luaineach', which has many meanings when translated but here probably reflects the English words of 'restless' and 'unsteady' best. It will take a big broadside to surpass Garreth Quinn Redmond's album in terms of movement, concept and unearthing an emotive response, from another Irish artist this year.

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