Saturday, 11 August 2018

Album of the Month: Gareth Quinn Redmond - Gluaiseacht

Gareth Quinn Redmond - Gluaiseacht
Photo: Daniele Idini

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 casualty… 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.” 

The above would go on to act as the conceptual framework for my first album, 'Laistigh den Ghleo', guiding me as to how best engage with the chosen environment and compose for one’s experience of it. However, during the writing process I decided to focus my attention on the movement of the listener and how they experience ever-changing urban environments. To represent these changes, the album does give into certain dramatic qualities, which leads away from Ashikawa’s desire for a music that does not excite the listener. However, I hope this is simply viewed as a possible development for environmental music in modern times. 

My second album, 'Gluaiseacht', represents my continued creative journey through the conceptual framework of Satoshi Ashikawa's Environmental Music. As previously stated, with my first album I focused on the ever-changing surroundings of the listener and my latest release is no different. It is a music of experience, designed as an agency for understanding and contemplating the multitude of pulses that make up the life that flows around and within us. 

Gareth Quinn Redmond - Gluaiseacht Album Review

Normally I would slightly condense the background detail to LP's, but in the case of Gareth Quinn Redmond's notes for his sophomore album Gluaiseacht I felt everything he mentioned was relevant to the recording. In addition, Quinn Redmond's debut album Laistigh den Ghleo was our album of the month for February earlier this year, and for the first time, I have no choice but to apply the same categorisation to Gluaiseacht for August due to the wonder it has sparked in me yet again.

I still get the same feeling at times on his new album that I had with the first, to a degree, where it brings forth a fully ambient re-imaging of the great American jazz-pianist Keith Jarrett's free-form compositions. But this was covered in the debut album review at length so I will not delve into it again here, because it also doesn't feel as pronounced this time around.

Here we have the album split into two tracks, both almost of exact equal length coming in at just over 15 minutes, and simply titled 'Gluaiseacht I' & 'Gluaiseacht II' (or 'Movement I & II'). Whilst there are undoubted stylistic similarities between album's 1 and 2 (it's the same artist after all!), some notable differences exist. Firstly, while present, it feels like the electronic components are more complimentary rather than up front and at the core of the music. There is a strong sense of a deeper meaning across the 30-plus minutes too, this voyage is different, and to another place.

In the first half of 'Gluaiseacht I' I feel drifting, peacefully and with great content through a dimly lit stellar part of the cosmos, far from planetary alignments and clusters, just isolated, but again, contentment, and in some ways one of the closest I have come to having music making me actually feel that way whilst listening to it. A magical trickle occurs at the 5:50 mark, the drift turns into momentum and is pushed forward, it's an invigorating, exciting and wonderful feeling. 

'Gluaiseacht II' stands a bit taller, it wants to say more now, catch our attention in a polite if more demanding way. Only one minute in and great beauty unfolds, electronic vibrato, other-worldly, and damn Gareth Quinn Redmond has a unique mastery over the delicate delivery of ambience in his music, I would call it high ambience due to how placid and deft it is. When you reach the half-way point and the string arrangements are introduced the album firmly pushes itself into a special territory, I'm in awe at how this entire creation was made, it is humbling.

I can't overstate how important this contribution and his previous outing are to the genre, Gluaiseacht should absolutely be considered a landmark album, it's important that music makes you feel something, small or big, but it's a gift when it takes you far, far away from your conscious state, the every day hum-drum, and transports you light years from your physical position. One final thought is that I also think of the 1982 masterpiece documentary Koyaanisqatsi, musically but moreso thematically. The film has no dialogue, charting the ever-changing interaction between the natural environment and the encroaching human one as we 'develop' technologically, something Gareth Quinn Redmond alludes to in his notes somewhat. So yeah, wow and thank you!

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