This concert closes the 2013 Avant Festival, Cork’s annual festival of experimental and progressive art. It also marks the final Black Sun music event. Since 2009, Black Sun has invited many renowned makers of strange sounds from around the world to play for the first time in Ireland. Black Sun was conceived as a space where the experimental is not something clique-ish, reserved for the afficionado, but precisely the opposite – an opening of possibility for the adventurous, wherever they’re coming from.
RICHARD YOUNGS (Jagjaguwar Records)
Sat July 27th 2013
TDC @ Triskel Arts Center
Richard Youngs is a British musician with a prolific and diverse output, including many collaborations. Based in Glasgow since the early 1990s, his extensive back catalogue of solo and collaborative work formally begins with Advent, first issued in 1990. He plays many instruments, most commonly choosing the guitar, but he has been known to use a wide variety of other instruments including the shakuhachi, accordion, theremin, dulcimer, a home-made synthesizer (common on early recordings) and even a motorway bridge. He also released an album which was entirely a cappella.
For many years, live performances were very occasional and almost always in Glasgow; he has stated publicly that he finds live performance “incredibly nerve-racking: stomach cramps, tension headaches…”. However, in recent years, he has performed more regularly (including a tour of New Zealand in 2010 and a UK tour in support of Damon and Naomi in 2011) and many of his recent shows have been predominantly vocal – he told The Wire (issue 284) “I went to a laptop concert and decided I was going to sing”.
THE iconic figure of the modern UK underground
Imagine Richard Youngs as the junior member of a cabal of prolific and puritanical English musician-mystics, including The Fall’s Mark E Smith, Van der Graaf Generator’s Peter Hammill, Martin Carthy and The Clangers’ composer Vernon Elliot, and still his nature will elude you
Áine O’Dwyer hails from Pallasgreen, Co Limerick, and is currently based in London. She is best known as a harpist, and has worked with United Bible Studies, The Cloisters, Mark Fry, The A Lords, Richard Moult and Piano Magic among others.
Last year Áine recorded Music For Church Cleaners, a series of improvisations on the organ in St Mark’s Church, Islington – as the title suggests, in the presence of the (occasionally audible) cleaning staff. The eight pieces are meditative and often melancholic, driven by Áine’s strong melodic and structural sensibility, and drenched in the rich Gothic ambience of the space. The spirit of John Cage is evident both in the minimalist approach and in an openness to serendipitous (and comical) interjections from cleaners and stray children. An album of tremendous depth, power and beauty.
I was late in discovering Aine O’ Dwyer’s music. It was the home of the Second Language label where I (indirectly) came across this gifted musician. Last year’s treasured gem ‘I Lived In Trees’ by Mark Fry and The A. Lords was my avenue into Aine O’ Dwyer’s beautiful music. The harpist adds dreamy soundscapes to the A. Lords’ divine tapestry of warm, pastoral sounds. Soon, I discovered more collaborations on the same label-from Piano Magic to The Cloisters. Plugd introduced me to O’ Dwyer’s ‘Music For Church Cleaners’. An album of church organ music performed by Aine in St Mark’s Church, Islington. The spiritual music possesses this meditative power throughout with melancholic shades of colours. Amazing. I can’t wait to see Aine O’ Dwyer in concert and playing directly after Cubs, the prospect is simply mouth-watering!
Through her solo work, Irish artist Vicky Langan has gained a reputation for raw and intense performances that are as likely to leave audiences feeling deeply unsettled as profoundly moved. As Wölflinge, Langan projects vunerability, offering an intimate physical theatre loaded with personal symbolism and unguarded emotion.
There are some musicians who entertain us, fine; some who stimulate us, better; and then some who immerse us in something so powerful that, almost, primal emotions surface instantly; making us ultra-defensive, or, finally open to illumination. One of the latter is Vicky Langan… You may love her, hate her, be astonished, be repelled-but you will not be unmoved. Promise. In a world of bland s**te we need to treasure artists like this -even if they burn…
Bernard Clarke, NOVA, RTÉ Lyric Fm.