Thursday, March 19, 2020

Support great music.... now!

In this time of isolation, artists are suffering. Their consulting work is put on hold; their day jobs vanish; their gigs are cancelled. This post contains music from friends and accomplices. Please open your wallets along with your hearts. Donate to help keep music alive.

There's no better place to start than today on Bandcamp. This site is waiving their fees for 24 hours, so all the money collected goes directly into artists' hands. This offer starts Friday at midnight Pacific Time. While this is an ambiguous timestamp, I think, that means it kicked off already at 7am this morning (Friday) GMT.

Here are some of my favourites, in no special order. I will be buying too, so see you on Bandcamp!

Also I will continue highlighting artists in the future, since it's not only today you could be helping them. Besides, there's no way you can listen to all of this in a few hours!

In August of 2015 Windings travelled to Donegal and recorded Be Honest and Fear Not, their fourth album. Released the following year on the very wonderful Out On A Limb Records, it became a cornerstone of Limerick rock. By turns humorous, contemplative, and frustrating, this record says a lot about what it meant to be alive in Ireland at that one very particular time. Things are different now. This is already history, and important for that reason. But hey, it's also fun!

Let The Dead Bury The Dead was the breakout album from Rusangano Family. It redefined 2016 as Hip-Hop Year Zero in Ireland. Anchored by mix-master mynameisjOhn, the rapping duties are shared by MuRli and God Knows. Let me single out the amazing "Heathrow", and not only because it features Steve Ryan from the previous band (you know, it's a segue) but also because the difficulties of international travel have now become more than just a matter of racism.

Fast-forward to late last year and MuRli dropped the "mixtape" The Intangibles, showcasing his own incredible production techniques. The concerns are so topical that "Play for Keeps" even takes on the virus. Because, y'know, some communities have been living with this sort of fear their whole lives.

Where does one start with Deserted Village? They practically invented left-field music publishing in Ireland. Well, how about For Tom Carter, a massive compilation aimed at raising money to pay hospital bills for the titular musician. David Colohan and Gavin Prior compiled no fewer than 99 tracks in this vast survey from 2013. There's sure to be something you like. Maybe even my track.

I wrote an entire chapter on Robert Curgenven for my dissertation, but you don't need to read that to appreciate his masterful compositions. His music integrates field recordings, dub plate feedback, and a love for bass. My advice is to buy his entire discography. But if you had to choose: SIRÈNE is a sea of rich mutating harmonics. They tore the earth and, like a scar, it swallowed them is fierce and articulated, an electroacoustic wonderland. There's a deep sense of history here, and a strong critique of hurtful ideologies.

Dallas Simpson doesn't perform music in any traditional sense. Instead he gently encourages his surroundings to give forth their innate sounds. His choreographies come from a place of stillness and care for the world. Perhaps the best way to experience this is to take part in the process yourself. His recordings are only traces of an experience that is much richer than the mere sonics. Nonetheless, you should listen to the subtle an delightful sounds of Railway Footbridge Improvisation For One Adult and Two Children. Simpson's binaural recording techniques reveal every detail of the surf for The Shore of Stones Suite. There's a lot more to find, spread out across multiple labels.

Tony Whitehead runs Very Quiet Records from Devon, releasing a stream of field recordings that, like Simpson, foreground the little things most of us miss. There's a lot to choose from here, including a frog chorus. Or a recording of sounds from inside a tube! Spend some time surfing.

"My parents used to tell me that I was born with two bumps on my head. 'Like the little horns of a baby goat,' my father explained. But the doctors in the hospital in Kiev quickly removed any evidence of them. Not long after my birth the whole family left for the new world." Continue the story as you listen to the piano meditations of Natalia Beylis, on her beautiful album Green Bird Fountain.

Woven Skull is the flip-side of the coin, noise issuing from "the bogs and forests of County Leitrim," as it says here. This is Beylis (mandolin) with Aonghus McEvoy (guitar) and Willie Stewart bashing the skins. Loud and psychedelic, harkening back to traditional musics and the jams of the sixties, this is perfect music to zone out to live. But for now, you can buy Woven Skull (an album dedicated to the Eurasian red squirrel) and zone out in your own living room. Lair of the Glowing Bantling is also excellent.

Where to start with Slavek Kwi? He is a "sound-artist, composer and researcher whose main interest lies in the phenomena of perception as the fundamental determinant of relations with Reality." Under the banner Artificial Memory Trace he has a long and varied career of field recording and composition that stems from his inclusive world-view. Take just one release. Uschat C is over four hours of sounds, many of them animal voices, covering almost every conceivable biosphere. And that's the companion album to Uchat M, which is another hour-long listening fest.

There are 96 further albums on his own website, plus numerous CDs, cassettes, digital releases on other labels. This is truly an incomprehensible array of riches. But you can also delve into his past as an anarcho-punk in Czechia, through releases by Quarantaine. An appropriate name for these times?

Kwi also initiated a series of group improvisations under the banner of uni.sol_: "united artists for well-being of solar system (and of everything else)." It's a project "exploring the potential of extrasensory communication. 'multiverse' titled publications are mixed gatherings of participants from around the globe." These are "name your price", but you might wish to be generous at this time.

Ed Devane began creating electronic music in Dublin, then in Limerick, and now from his base in Donegal. These days he is best known as a maker, enabling other artists with home-built instruments, selling a cool little preamp (Soniphorm), and producing installations for galleries. Molten Membrane was his debut album in 2010, off-kilter beats and strange grooves, like something from a very groovy science-fiction film. Should have been released by Warp, methinks. Phase Change is a wild ride through ever-changing electroacoustic textures, but without the beats.

Jim Griffin plays guitar in Zombie Picnic, an instrumental hard prog band, but also makes intricately-devised acoustic/electronic fantasies. The Ranger and The Cleric (2015) is music to play Dungeons and Dragons by. To A Far City (2017) is worthy of a unique encounter in an enchanted glade. Check them both out.

All proceeds from my own album, Universal Commercial Electric Telegraphic, will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières. Please purchase, enjoy, and help someone in need of medical assistance due to conflict, epidemic, or disaster. Here's their latest press release.

Finally, I encourage you to check out the other music I've released on Stolen Mirror, including Mai, Steve McCourt, and Fergus Kelly.

OK, I have run out of time here. More in the future!

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