Published Feb 19, 2014Those of you who take your music recommendations from Ireland's Prime Minister will be one step ahead of the rest of us on this one. Irish-American supergroup the Gloaming's hugely anticipated self-titled debut emerged from the Emerald Isle mist earlier this year and it's a knockout. This is the how-did-no-one-think-of-it-before-now confluence of Celtic-inspired contemporary Irish music and Sigur Rós, minus the pathos and percussive refrains.
The five musicians who come together here are highly accomplished on their own — Iarla Ó Lionaird, veteran of the Afro-Celt Sound System, on vocals, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh on the Norwegian hardanger fiddle, Martin Hayes on violin/fiddle, Dennis Cahill on guitar and Thomas Bartlett, who has worked with Yoko Ono, the National, Grizzly Bear, David Byrne and Glen Hansard, on piano — but they discovered during a meeting at Grouse Lodge Studios in 2011 a shared interest in breaking new, genre-defying ground.
The album is an extraordinary and virtuosic collection of unsentimental, low-calorie songs that weave together jigs, haunting sean-nós, shrewd piano and melodic multi-string textures in traditionally untraditional ways. There isn't an ounce of bloat here, not even the 16-minute "Opening Set," on an album that could have easily become a retrospective or an exercise in self-indulgence. In every instance, the songs are front and centre, not the musicians, and their impact is certain to be felt far and wide. (Justin Time)