Dark Ambient is not a genre for which Ireland is famed. A shame, given the conceptual and spiritual riches that should in theory be there to work with.
Sometimes though a cd’s moment just comes. A perfect mix of source material, individual agenda and single minded vision coalesce into a great record. Connor Droney, otherwise known as From The Bogs Of Aughiska, has just composed such a release.
This is terrifyingly good.
In sampling the natural environment of Ireland’s rugged west coast and using it as a basis for sonic experimentation, one feels as though he has caught the quiet wrath of the earth.
Waves, both actual and sonic, crash hard and retreat in foams of electronic spray, as brooding, malign synths drone above. It feels like the breath of exposed, unforgiving nature. This music begs to be heard as Connor probably sampled it in the first place: high on the sea cliffs, or walking around weatherbeaten Connemara.
There isn’t an second of cloy Celticism in here. Yet this triumph of bleak atmospheres communicates more about the ‘Irish’ supernaturalism than any riffing and jigging ever could.
It opens with a track that’s as good an example of perfect execution as I can remember. A haunting, low drone is looped. Gradually, the voices of some entirely normal people begin to recount their experiences of the bean sidhe.
It’s almost like reportage, and is all the more striking not for it’s ham spookiness, but for the contemporary and down to earth way in which the stories are told.
From one man:
“I actually thought somebody must have been literally tying a cat up or strangling it or something. But I went out by the window with a lump of turf, and eh, there was nobody there, nothing there. But you could hear this wail, and suddenly my hair began to stand up and I thought, Jesus Christ”
The hair does, indeed, stand on end, and in the right place at the right time it’s chilling.
The rest of the cd is strictly atmosphere, comparable to perhaps Raison D’Etre, or Current 93’s cataclysmic ‘Nature Unveiled’. The sounds of harsh winds, an occasional black squirm of notes, and all the time the subterranean throb of earth deep underneath transports the listener to a dimension that feels close to deaths door.
The banshee serves as a perfect metaphor for the music on this whole cd. A product of a world both human and supernatural, caught in the middle, and tortured by it. What’s so staggering about this music is that it sounds like nature’s response back to that – cold, premanent and unsparing as the tides hit rock over and over and over.
It’s a rare day I call a cd perfect, but this one is. A pure translation of land and soul into darkened, callous and at times magnificent sound. This one’s for the annals of the Irish underground.
5/5 - Earl Grey ::: 09/02/11