The Gloaming, 2014
THE GLOAMING: Iarla Ó Lionaird, Thomas Bartlett, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill.
These five virtuoso musicians first met to explore new music at West Grouse Lodge Studios is West Meath, Ireland, in early 2011. Each came at Irish music from their own perspective, bringing a slightly different take on the rich musical heritage and traditions The music they began to create was sparse and beautiful, authentic and tune-filled, music that went on to be described by The Irish Times as 'of an entirely different hue: neither slavishly traditional nor wilfully contemporary.'
The traditional foundations are laid by fiddler Martin Hayes, who grew up in County Clare, his longstanding partner, the guitarist Dennis Cahill, and Dublin-born Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, who plays the fiddle, five-string viola, and hardanger fiddle (the national instrument of Norway). Iarla Ó Lionáird is a master of the sean-nós ('in the old way') Irish song style, but is also well known as singer with Afro Celt Sound System, the group that made many ground-breaking recordings during the nineties. Young pianist Thomas Bartlett brings a twist to the ensemble, his 'subtle piano playing is laced through the Gloaming's music, moving it, and the music of Ireland, in captivating new directions.' The New Yorker
The Gloaming carves new paths connecting the rich Irish folk tradition and the New York contemporary music scene. From haunting sean-nós songs to raucous folk explosions, they make music that is both ancient and utterly new.
The new album, simply entitled The Gloaming was produced by Thomas Bartlett (Glen Hansard, Sam Amidon) and mixed by Patrick Dillett (David Byrne & St. Vincent).
"The Gloaming fully exploit the rich sonic possibilities which Thomas Bartlett's piano, Dennis Cahill's guitar and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh's fiddles brought to the party.... The warmth of Ó Lionáird's voice was immediately evident, as were the show-stopping impact of Vermont-born Bartlett's lines on the piano... The Gloaming's newly forged songs were a revelation." The Irish Times
- **** ...gently enthralling debut... This gently enthralling debut takes five musicians from Ireland and the United States takes traditional Irish music and remoulds it to incorporate elements of jazz and contemporary. ...there is a sense of hushed reflective solitude here. It's slow-building, sparse yet expansive - music to look across the ocean too. The Dominion Post (New Zealand)
- It's a staggering display of both emotion and virtuosity. ...the Irish top 10 since its release a month ago - ...a remarkable set that sees the only standing ovation and the only encore of the weekend. Gaelic is the language and the tunes drip with the melancholy of the diaspora. As the five musicians shift gears effortlessly through The Sailor's Bonnet, picking up the pace, feet start stamping on and off the stage, the crowd begins to whoop and one can only marvel at the intuitive understanding between the five. But it's not just jigs and reels that make them remarkable: the opening Song 44, with Bartlett holding down his piano strings to mute them, and violins scraping ominously, has more in common with post-rock than with Christy Moore. It's a staggering display of both emotion and virtuosity. The Guardian (Live from Other Voices Festival, Derry) (UK)
- **** The sound of five supremely talented musicians The Gloaming make no attempt to modernise or reinvent their chosen style. They're not thrusting their hands into a relatively untapped resource of sounds, ideas and other perfectly preserved elements in order to reconstitute them for a quick fix. This is a revival, not a revision; a good-faith revival that keeps its substance intact and brings it wholesale into the present. This is the sound of five supremely talented musicians whose guiding principle is to leave unbroken things unfixed. To say it works well is an understatement. musicomh.com
- ***** Brilliantly Innovative A powerhouse quintet of virtuoso soloists drawn from both sides of the Atlantic. The Gloaming make chamber music of operatic intensity and symphonic scale… a superbly framed recording that is brilliantly innovative and executed with masterly conviction. (Top of the World album) Songlines (UK)
- ***** Sumptuous debut by virtuoso supergroup… Blending traditional tunes with Irish poetry and abstract experimentation, they create a thrilling original magic, which sounds warmly familiar. Stripping frilliness, they expose the raw soul of the music… during the albums epic centrepiece Opening Set you hold your breath, before the rest of the band pitch in and guide us to humdinging climax over Bartlett's pounding piano. …this is a very organic modern album and it's brilliant. MoJo Magazine (UK)
- A spectral, shapeshifting marvel With the debut album from this quintet, new parameters are set-not just of excellence, which is a given - but of direction, intellectual freedom and integrity, which sets this piece of work head and shoulders above anything else we are likely to hear this year. With this remarkable album, what we have here is a work of feel, substance and no little magic. A spectral, shapeshifting marvel for which it will be very hard to find an equal in this, or any other year. Fatea-magazine.co.uk
- Breathtaking, groundbreaking, grandstanding... "The Gloaming" ups the ante by a considerable margin. It's full of these simple tenets about space and solitude nestling cheek-by-jowl with wild, fierce, unruly, buckwild moments when the sounds take flight and pull you along with in their slipstream. It's an album which is breathtaking, groundbreaking, grandstanding and any other accolade you want to apply your big bag of superlatives. It's taken a considerable amount of time for The Gloaming to reach this juncture on their travels, but, man, it has been time well worth taking. Irish Times (Ireland)
- Gig of the Week It was evident that there was a huge amount of mutual respect amongst all five musicians and this communicated itself to the audience. … This new line-up is not to be missed, look out for it - I felt honoured to be a part of such a concert. (Review of Union Chapel gig) ww.scoop.it (Online)
- Experimenting with tradition… Wondrous The Gloaming apply an experimental veneer to such bare-boned constituents of traditional music as keening fiddles and sean nos singing. Drawing on a shared love of progressive jazz, minimalism, and modern classical, their debut album is frequently wondrous. Metro Herald (Ireland)
- The cream of Irish and American roots musicians coalesce This is certain to become a landmark album of its kind. Hot Press (Ireland)
- Thoroughly polished A quintet of accomplished musicians who rouse up a thoroughly polished seisiun on their debut album. Old-world trad and folk get a contemporary shake-up courtesy of Thomas Bartlett. The resulting musical mosaic is steeped in texture and emotion. Sunday Times (Culture) (Ireland)
- Trad supergroup deliver an arresting set This debut album lives up to the loftiest of expectations. The wonderfully virtuosic music is rooted in an ancient Irish tradition, no doubt about that, but there's an experimental flavour to the compositions that makes the album such an intriguing, arresting listen. The music is sparse in places, marvellously complex in others - and there's a beauty here that will touch many. Irish Independent (Ireland)
- Album of the week The Gloaming achieves a spacious temporal glow. Its evocative arrangements let the tunes breathe between the players, using familiar language in what feels like fresh ways. It communicates with the outside world from Cork to Clare to Vermont to Chicago to Norway and beyond. It has a context in that wide open world and does something delicate with the weight of history that informs it. By satisfying my taste for new ideas on old music, The Gloaming makes me feel a little less of a stranger in my own land too. Nialler9.com
- **** Exquisite Steeped in traditional Celtic influences but bravely contemporary, The Gloaming are a five-man Irish-American supergroup who have created a distinctive style of their own. Exquisite The Guardian (UK)
- **** Sparse and spectral The opening Song 44, one of the highlights, is a sparse and spectral setting of an 800-year-old poem. The mood throughout is predominantly contemplative, with the Hardanger fiddle and guitar on Old Bush being a prime example. ... The band has proved itself with rapturous receptions on tour. London Evening Standard (UK)
- ***** Debut recording by Irish supergroup sets peerless fiddle playing against aetherial sean nos singing The most exciting moments come when Hayes's slow vamps lock into an ecstatic reel or jig, and either his usual foil Dennis Cahill on guitar or the pianist Thomas Bartlett reinforces the rhythm. On 'Opening Set' all the musical elements cohere on a blissful quarter-hour pilgrimage. Financial Times (UK)
- **** Eliding Irish folk music with the contemporary New York art-music scene The Gloaming are a five-piece ensemble eliding Irish folk music with the contemporary New York art-music scene. The upshot is a rather ECM-ish well of open space irrigated by a flow of motifs, textures, tempos and, more abstractly, romantic yearnings, as if an attempt were being made to elongate traditional form - the transatlantic folk impulse taken to unusual lengths ("Opening Set" lasts 16 minutes). Independent on Sunday (UK)
- ...it's very exciting. The quintet's music isn't traditional, nor is it classical: it's contemporary music that insinuates itself within the subconscious, and it's very exciting. When performing live, Bartlett and Dennis Cahill lob percussive shapes back and forth, the pair bookending the band with forensic attention to detail. It's a relationship that draws something new from music that simply refuses to be boxed in. This isn't traditional music. It's not classical music. It's contemporary music that insinuates itself deep within the subconscious. Irish Times (Ireland)
- As good as this gets. The Transatlantic Sessions certainly started something and now with all this genre hopping going on the Gloaming brings together four acclaimed Irish Traditional musicians. Stretching words into a mellow Celtic haze, Iarla's vocals soar and decay over the find of gentle traditional airs that instantly want you to be sipping a glass of the black stuff watching the sunset over Dingle Bay. Acoustic Magazine (UK)
- ***** This is contemporary music making at its very best: un-selfconscious, freewheeling and yet deeply thoughtful The Gloaming revel in wide open vistas and endless space. It's as if each member has hankered after the company of players, all coming from distinctly different places, their knapsacks brimful of salty ideas, colourful whims and a fearless appetite for mining seams previously unexplored. With almost 60 minutes of free-flowing music to draw from, the listener is privy to a wide palette, defined more by shape and mood than tethered by genre. Each member of The Gloaming has already forged their own singular path, yet this collaboration is something altogether in and of itself. It takes the road not travelled, drawing on a distinctly traditional foundation but finding its own voice in a space that refuses to be boxed in. This is contemporary music making at its very best: un-selfconscious, freewheeling and yet deeply thoughtful, revealing layer upon layer with each listening. Irish Times (Ireland)
- Irish folk music that is inexorably, beautifully modern The Gloaming deal in traditional Irish folk music, only traditional Irish folk music that is in many ways inexorably, beautifully modern. …By the evidence of their first album together they are skilled performers who seem incredibly comfortable in each other's musical company. There's something undeniably soothing about The Gloaming. It's almost like an hour of music you feel like you've known your entire life and yet it's almost impossible to ascertain exactly why. In a word, charming. subba-cultcha.com
- ...powerful example of Transatlantic showcasing and exchange. The traditional styles of the west of Ireland merging with the minimalist sounds of New York and Chicago. ...a powerful centre-piece to a beautiful album that despite the traditional influences of its creators, feels as appropriately modern as any Irish album this year. Golden Plec (Ireland)
- There's no questioning the bona fides of The Gloaming, or the abundant virtuosity and sheer beauty the group brings to every track... ...But what's even more impressive is what these five collectively achieve: The entire album is full of deeply felt, wonderfully empathetic performances that are rooted in tradition but scoured of sentimentality. The traditional idioms of reels and jigs emerge here and there, but The Gloaming brings in harmonies, melodic ideas and textures that darken and expand far beyond "traditional Irish music." In short, this is the rare album that might well transform the syntax of a whole style. NPR Music online
*****...this debut album from The Gloaming is exceptional. By the time we reach the final reel the band is in full flight with Cahill's motoric, dancing guitar chords, Bartlett's thunderous bass notes and syncopated right-hand commentaries, coupled with the increasingly impassioned repetitions of the tune by Hayes and Ó Raghallaigh. The results are magnificent.
Cast in a beguilingly different harmonic light, other tune sets such as "Allistrum's March" and "The Sailor's Bonnet" make you hear anew the inherent strength and melodic power of this music.
Singing with uncommon purity throughout his range, Ó Lionaird's four songs are all stand-outs. You will never hear these songs sung more beautifully.
Musically, lyrically, dramatically, on every count this debut album from The Gloaming is exceptional. The artsdesk.com
- It is a clever mixture of influences... ...and the execution is faultless as you would expect from musicians of their stature. Irish Post (Ireland)
- Haunting and emotionally charged... Its breakdown of form, its exposition of the fundamentals with a lick of modernity creates a refreshing but familiar sound. Irish World (Ireland)
- Stately debut from virtuoso international folk ensemble Take two fêted Irish fiddlers, a Chicago guitarist, an avant-garde pianist from New York City and the voice of Iarla Ó Lionáird and you have one unexpected folk group. Ó Lionáird has always sung with a still, eerie beauty and the instrumentalists conjure up similarly precise, minimalist soundscapes that are rooted in Irish tradition but whose reels and laments stray into neo-classical territory. ... The 16-minute "Opening Set", running from slow beauty to joyful jog, is the standout of a magisterial set. UNCUT (UK)
- The Gloaming is quite unlike anything Ireland has ever experienced before. This is music for listening and pondering with the mix of traditional nous, modernity and expression finding a uniquely personal slant on an ancient muse. FRoots Magazine (UK)
- ...enormously rewarding if you hanker for some NY loft space in your croft house. Musical tendrils wrap around dark forests of atmosphere, more like a Celtic Sigur Ros than a ceilidh band... Q Magazine (UK)
- Traditional music that was often arrestingly new Via their mastery of traditional playing, they sensitively reinterpreted the wealth of songs at their disposal as well as newly composed melodies. The result was traditional music that was often arrestingly new. The Irish Examiner
- Music of an entirely different hue... This was music of an entirely different hue: neither slavishly traditional nor wilfully contemporary, it sought out uncharted terrain (some of which was undoubtedly familiar) - and, most impressively, welcomed their audience as essential passengers on that journey The Irish Times
- one of the great forces in Irish music Their live performances so far have been revelatory… Future dates are likely to cement them as one of the great forces in Irish music. The Irish Times
- Moving the music of Ireland in captivating new directions The music of the Emerald Isle may have spread far and wide, but there is little that will be performed that sounds like The Gloaming, a group so new it hasn't even released an album yet. The Gloaming unites musicians who come at Irish music from different perspectives. The master fiddler Martin Hayes, who grew up in County Clare, and the guitarist Dennis Cahill, his longtime partner, ground the group in the traditional. So does Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, who was born in Dublin and plays the fiddle, five-string viola, and hardanger fiddle, which is the national instrument of Norway. The vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird shares their approach-he's a master of the sean-nós ("in the old way") a-cappella song style-but like the hardanger fiddle, his background suggests something else might be afoot-he recorded a number of albums with Afro Celt Sound System in the nineties. But The Gloaming doesn't have a world-music sound. What it does have is Thomas Bartlett, a young piano player and songwriter who has worked with Yoko Ono, Bebel Gilberto, David Byrne, Antony, Grizzly Bear, Justin Bond, Nico Muhly, and the National, as well as recorded a series of quiet, intense albums as Doveman. Barlett's sparse, subtle piano playing is laced through the Gloaming's music, moving it, and the music of Ireland, in captivating new directions. The New Yorker
- ...musical feast...mesmerising... ON THEIR British premiere, this quintet proves to be far more than the sum of their parts. Each instrument, sounding razor sharp and crisp, blends into the melody of every song with a musical rigour which is mesmerising in its inventiveness. The result is music, faultless in its execution, that grabs the attention and the audience - sensing they're witnessing something out of the ordinary - grow ever more rapturous in their response. 5 Stars from Morning Star (Live from Union Chapel, London) (UK)
- The Gloaming spectacularly fulfilled, and surpassed, all expectations. ...sublime. ...pianist Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a. Doveman), and it was his subtle reharmonisations, crisply articulated rhythmic motifs and extensive textural palette that really helped to create such a unique group sound. Ó Lionaird's wonderfully rich timbre filling every last corner of the Union Chapel was one of the musical highlights of the year. ...subliminal drones on harmonium, ...occasionally hit notes that sounded like they'd been mined from the earth. The music-making was sublime and the standing ovation entirely deserved. With their eponymous debut album scheduled for release in the autumn, The Gloaming look set to make a deep impression on Irish music worldwide. The Arts Desk Online (Live from The Union Chapel, London) (UK)
- Hardly a pew in the Grade-one listed church isn't full. And it's a truly dazzling show, where extraordinary musicianship meets with old Gaelic numbers...The highlight of the evening? There's singer Iarla Ó Lionáird's rich, textured tones which heralds at the start of a 20-minute opening jam. The Irish Post (Ireland)