- 19 Mar 19
Uniting two of the Ireland’s most forward thinking musical propositions - Eoin O’Callaghan AKA Elma Orkestra and Ryan Vail - Borders is described by the musicians as a "singular collaborative project".
Spanning symphonic ambience to widescreen electronica, it’s a genre-warping meeting of the minds from two of the country's most innovative artists.
Having both been releasing music independently of one another since 2012, the album is a project that has almost felt destined to happen. As two artists residing on either sides of the border in the North-West, their paths have entwined several times in the past.
Now, mirroring the spirit of the times - of grasping for unity and togetherness in an unpredictable, ultimately borderless world – Borders is a release that sees those creative paths meet head-on. Across eight tracks, from opener ‘Droves’ to the beat-laden outro ‘Arlene’, O’Callaghan and Vail masterfully blur the contours between contemporary electronic and classical realms. This breaking of new ground - of pushing boundaries and thwarting expectations via attention to detail and a joint penchant for analogue equipment - is what underpins Borders.
“We know what we like and why we like it so we were hypercritical of every sound we committed to,” says O’Callaghan.
“We both have an array of old analogue gear and it always delivers. We were constantly aware of the important of having continuity throughout the album so we tried to limit ourselves to a sound palette. As time went on the palette grew in size but we kept it under constant scrutiny.”
Together, they have created a new continent of sound, a world where Borders don’t exist. Though it was titled before the looming spectre of Brexit, Borders, as an album, encompasses much bigger universal themes about belonging in a world where division is more rife than ever. And yet, there’s a uniquely personal aspect that runs throughout the release.
“The album was written with the mindset that we were scoring the border between the North and South of Ireland,” reveals Vail. “While performing the album live, the audience will see a visual journey across various parts of the border.”
Underlining the collaborative nature of the release is the presence of Dublin spoken word poet, Stephen James Smith (‘My Island’) and Moya Brennan (who sings in both Gaelic and English on ‘Colours’). Combined with O’Callaghan and Vail’s meticulous, inspired compositions, these tracks only serve to highlight the album’s staggering feat of collaborative spirit.
Borders will be released on June 14. Colours is out now and you can listen to it here: