Past St. Patrick's Day: The Gloaming Rearranges Irish Tradition | Music Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

Past St. Patrick's Day: The Gloaming Rearranges Irish Tradition 

From the Irish wilds, partly, The Gloaming

Photo courtesy of Duke Performances

From the Irish wilds, partly, The Gloaming

The story of the Irish music supergroup The Gloaming begins at an early rehearsal, with an anthology of folk songs turned randomly to page 44. Were The Gloaming a traditional Irish folk act, the song would certainly unfold in a hurry, with flute, tin whistle, fiddle, and accordion racing through the melody's twists and turns.

Instead, "Song 44," as The Gloaming calls the tune that came from that serendipity, opens with a muted piano, plunking out a spare, enigmatic line. A tenor that sounds like Jeff Buckley singing in Gaelic joins. The sustained strings are translucent. Only after two minutes does something that resembles a reel arrive, played at the bottom of the fiddle's range at half-speed. The mood is twilit, submerged—a gloaming, if you will.

In 2011, fiddler extraordinaire Martin Hayes wanted to form a band. He booked a concert hall for the group—and promptly sold it out—before it had even rehearsed. The friends, at least, happened to be world-class musicians: Chicago-based guitarist and longtime collaborator Dennis Cahill; singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, a master of antiquated sean-nós singing and main instigator of the Afro Celt Sound System; fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, a master of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle; and New York pianist Thomas Bartlett, or Doveman, known for his work with The National, Sam Amidon, and Antony and the Johnsons. Hayes wanted an act with a lot of musical empathy; appropriately, the group settled on an approach of shared spontaneity.

Bartlett and Ó Raghallaigh are The Gloaming's surprise weapons, in part because they gesture outside of this Irish world. Bartlett admits he doesn't know the first thing about the stylistic conventions of Celtic music, which gives him the freedom to color outside the lines. He's largely an accompanist in The Gloaming, but his choices with chord voicings and rhythms dramatically recontextualize the source. He's the musical free agent here.

Ó Raghallaigh's Hardanger fiddle, meanwhile, thickens the sound. In addition to the four strings of a typical violin, six strings run beneath the Hardanger's fingerboard. The sound is mellower and more resonant than a violin. When Hayes and Ó Raghallaigh play together, you can almost hear the tin whistle seeping through their instruments.

The Gloaming is known for slow-motion, cinematic takes on Irish music, but the group is not above its old-fashioned sources. "Opening Set," the centerpiece of the group's 2013 debut, is a seventeen-minute medley that evolves from stately ballad into flying reel. After Ó Lionáird sings, Hayes and Ó Raghallaigh's lines spin and intertwine. Bartlett adds bizarre chords that seem to respond to the mood. If "Song 44" is a statement of contrast with the past, "Opening Set" is a link to it. In between, The Gloaming points to one way tradition might be transformed.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Profound Lore"

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music Feature



Twitter Activity

Comments

Music with guitar Wao!! is awesome with his music and the back series of his I am waiting for this …

by harrypottermusicbox on Nigerien Guitarist Mdou Moctar Reaches Beyond Boundaries of Country or Genre (Music Feature)

Here I sit, listening to a recording of the Rusted Root set at the Lilac Festival in May 2015... Love …

by twatts1000 on Wait, Rusted Root has a legacy? (Music Feature)

Most Recent Comments

Music with guitar Wao!! is awesome with his music and the back series of his I am waiting for this …

by harrypottermusicbox on Nigerien Guitarist Mdou Moctar Reaches Beyond Boundaries of Country or Genre (Music Feature)

Here I sit, listening to a recording of the Rusted Root set at the Lilac Festival in May 2015... Love …

by twatts1000 on Wait, Rusted Root has a legacy? (Music Feature)

I met Kelly and Audley once at a small venue in Portland Oregon at a Cheap Trick Concert in 1993 …

by Brian Johnson 1 on Cry of Love vocalist Kelly Holland died depressed, but not alone (Music Feature)

If the noise level by the apartment complex is under 60 decibels, what is the problem? Also if police do …

by Nork on Batalá Durham's Central Park Standoff with Liberty Warehouse Residents Is Gentrification in Motion (Music Feature)

Can't help but marvel how Indy can take an article about a big box store moving 15 miles and turn …

by Tom Eisenmenger on Guitar Center Is Leaving Durham. Here’s What That Means for Indie Music Stores (Music Feature)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation