A bit of a labour of love, this. For a while i lived on my good friend's houseboat in Warwick, it was the makings of a naturally perfect studio, a small comfortable space, wood panelled, naturally damping virtually no background noise. I had a surprisingly good stereo microphone and a vintage mini-disc recorder, so the whistle playing was very faithfully reproduced.
I wanted to explore a few ideas, having been captivated by Opeth's Deliverance and Damnation, which despite their heaviness seemed to come very naturally from a folk-music palette, with the deftness of touch and lightness of phrasing that brings. Great music is music that knows its' place, that comes from people attuned to musical traditions.
Whilst it would be new-agey to say I like all music, (it would also be false!) i liked the idea of exploring the music that appealed to me without trying too hard to pigeon-hole it, to try and create music that was at least faithful to itself, with a kind of internal truth and language. On some of these tracks, I'd say I succeeded, on some of them I'd say I failed
Working outwards from my base in Irish music, starting with a minimalist set of tools for the backing, and a lot of time to write, and tweak, using spectral repair tools to create wierd hybrid soundscapes. It's been an ongoing project, mastering it: I'll hear something that really speaks to me, like Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh's beautiful, elliptic and minimalist hardanger playing and think: "yes, that ties in with the Scandinavian folk roots of Opeth, yes that ties in with the irish traditional music that's the wellspring of what i do", and i'll find a way of meshing it, sometimes just using the frequency range to sculpt what i had, sometimes mixing fragments of tunes.
I've written a few compositions: 'Her Tears', which was meant to be a slow air modern counterpoint to the traditional 'O'Rahilly's Grave' and Elegy, which was inspired in part by the outro of a Chris Thile song, "Me and Us". There's an underlying theme throughout the album of processing and coming to terms with loss and some of the darker parts of the human experience; but I don't look on it as a wallowing in emotionality, rather, trying to capture an authentic feeling, be it sadness, anger, or numbness and express it as starkly as possible.
You'll find fragments of Oisin MacDiarmada, the Baroque-ish Carolan and Bach-inspired Elegy a tribute to a fallen friend, the bass from John Butler Trio's anthemic Young and Wild chorus distorting the trad-ish Come West along the Road and Dowd's which i originally got from Martin Hayes; the intro to Joni Mitchell's 'Harry's House' and The Band's 'Night they Drove Old Dixie Down somewhere in there as well. Coyoacan is my nod to long-time inspiration Brian Finnegan, The Lonely from my appreciation of The Teetotallers, The Rainy Day a tribute to both my childhood inspiration, Cormac Breatnach's Deiseal, and to Oisin MacDiarmada's slow-burning 'On the Fiddle' album. I've also used izotope's wonderful Trash tool to add some fuzz and distortion and make electrical distortion which at its best sounds like some strange new instrument: needed something like that for Deliverance in particular.
One of the main weaknesses of the project was that I wrote and produced most of the backing in guitar pro, having nothing better at that time to work with. It's then become my task to colour and play with this using pro tools suites to make this sound closer to real instruments. Occasionally, the starkness and artificiality of the midi stuff works in a positive way, so i've left some of it alone.
You'll find some of this approachable, some of this inhospitable, maybe some of it mawkish or clumsy: I can't make my mind up if i am simply turd-polishing something that started off with too much midi programming, anyway I'm finished with it. I wouldn't say this is great music, but its' definitely been part of my journey. The best stuff probably comes not from too much interospection but from the prosaic: from the simple pleasures, the brightness and clarity of the everyday, I'd say there's half a chance some of this approaches that; the stuff done on rainy mornings between chopping wood for the small stove and brewing instant coffee on the hob.
"brilliant" - Michael McGoldrick after a gig at Bristol Folk Festival
winning whistle player, with several All-Britain tin whistle titles, and a semifinalist at Young Scottish Traditional Musician of the Year 2012. With brother David Garner, member of 'Choonz' a band with considerable touring and festival pedigree in the UK and Europe....more