SL022 Áine O'Dwyer Anything bright or startling? • BACK IN STOCK • ORDER HERE
The vivid, aptly titled Anything bright or startling? is Áine’s first album with vocals, although it was initially conceived as a largely instrumental work. Áine’s mesmeric, crystalline, often acrobatic voice and dreamlike, ineffably poetic lyrics nonetheless punctuate the album’s four lengthy, serpentine song suites, only deepening the immersive, enrapturing effect of her dexterous harp playing and textural touches of piano, organ, glockenspiel, tin whistle and cello (the latter courtesy of American Aaron Martin).
With its glinting, bucolic air, offset by detours into shadowy introspection, and rolling, freeform architecture, the album pitches up closer to Nico at her most reflective (The Marble Index might be a partial signpost, as might the transcendent tenor of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks) than anything stereotypically ‘folk’ or Celtic in nature. The song suites unwind with an idiosyncratic, at times rhapsodic immediacy, as if being discovered for the first time in the process of recording, although, in fact, passages of spontaneity and improvisation are just elements of what is often meticulously through-composed music.
Notable among the episodic essays are a smattering of collaborations, notably the richly melodic, tremulous opening suite, part of whose lyrics began as poem, Falcon, written by RWM Hunt, Scottish painter and leader of the band Shimmy Rivers and and Canal. Hunt also contributed to the lyrics of the inexorably unwinding ‘Hyperbolia’, a piece which perhaps most eloquently encapsulates the album’s signature interplay between music and words. The strident ‘Albion Awake’, meanwhile, has words penned in the late ’70s by Chris Cutler, of Henry Cow and Art Bears fame. Although they never became a song back then, the resonance of the words remains timeless for Áine, as she explains. “The lyrics appealed to me for many reasons, the urgency in them is one thing and the complete disgust with the present circumstance and the need to create a blank slate: “ Albion Awake!/Tumble you seeders/ Owls begone!/Beaks, tear the fabric of the night to sparks…”
For Áine, drawing on the past, and the influence of like minds, is all part of her creative process. “I feel that uniqueness in art can be bound up with what has gone before. We’re all DNA replicas of our ancestors, so digging into tradition doesn’t burden me at all. In fact, it helps me feel rooted.”
This is SL022.
1. Falcon/Egress/Coiled Eyes
3. Albion Awake/Lifeboy
4. Silent O Moyle/Truant Crier
Anything bright or startling? is No.3 in the new 2L Library Series - a highly collectable catalogue of hardback CD albums designed to be stored in your bookcase.
An accompanying bonus disc, Safely Adrift, (SL022x) is available only to Second Language subscribers with this release.