- 13 Sep 19
A Minimalist Masterpiece
It’s no exaggeration to say The Gloaming have changed, if not the nature, then the perception of Irish traditional music. But if you felt there was too much going on across their three awe-inspiring dispatches from the crossroads where trad and modern classical meet, then Ó Raghallaigh and Bartlett have peeled it back even further. While there are only two musicians – and two instruments – on this record, the spaces left and the notes masterfully unplayed make up a third, the spirit in this holy trinity.
‘Kestrel’ finds the instruments awakening in a prelude, Bartlett’s chords blinking into wakefulness while Ó Raghallaigh’s ten-string hardanger d’amore fiddle stretches with the scratches and whines that other musicians spend a life time avoiding, somehow making them musical. ‘Strange Vessels’ begins with Bartlett tapping out a plaintive melody, like a teardrop being carried out to sea on the to and fro of the waves Ó Raghallaigh forms. The sea swells as Bartlett adds emphasis but eventually we drop anchor in calm, the music like dapples of sunshine across gently rippling waters.
Ó Raghallaigh’s fiddle glides over Bartlett’s delicate piano during ‘Zona Rosa’ like a swallow trying to land on a shoulder. There is a magnificent longing inherent in ‘Open Shelter’ wherein Ó Raghallaigh employs every trick in his bag – strumming, plucking, allowing the sympathetic strings to resonate – short of smashing the instrument against the wall, while Bartlett explores the melody’s outer reaches, and ‘Further Than Memory’ is the kind of evocative minimalism one might associate with Philip Glass, or Erik Satie, or even Eno, had they only a tad more green blood.
This almost completely improvised record is a thing of beauty, not only an album to soundtrack a late night melancholic stare out the window, but also the perfect music to greet the day, to clear the cobwebs from both room and head. A work of art. The pure drop.