Review: The Gloaming – The Gloaming (aka 2)

The Gloaming have, since releasing their debut album, received exceptional praise for their skillful musicianship and ability to bring the sounds of old traditional Ireland into the modern day. Although fundamentally a folk band, their experimentation with the genre incorporates echoes of post-rock, jazz and ambient musical sounds.

After being so critically acclaimed and touring on a global scale, the Gloaming are already grounded steadily within the music world, with their popularity and recognition growing rapidly. Their new self-titled album, aka 2, is being released on the 26th February 2016, just in time for St. Patricks day.

The musicality the Gloaming continually produce is exquisite, being often described as a “supergroup” of musicians. Fiddlers Martin Hayes and Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh create perfectly harmonised duets of both crisp and warm violin tones. The track ‘The Hare’ demonstrates these fiddlers’ abilities to create ambience through atmospheric harmonies, while tunes like ‘The Bouley House’ demonstrates the spectacular technical skills the fiddlers possess.

Pianist Thomas Bartlett’s (aka Doveman) accompaniment brings together a perfect marriage of instruments, while allowing for experimental tones of jazz to be heard – a musical twist also created through Dennis Cahill’s impressive modern guitar style. Not only delving into the jazz genre, classicalism becomes prominent at times, as the piano frequently adopts musical conventions from the classical romantic era. This, alongside the Irish folk tunes allows their music to explore their past roots and old musical tradition.

The Gloaming continue to sing their lyrics in Irish Gaelic on the album, making them stand out from the crowd of other Irish folk bands. However unique this may seem, many more Scottish and Irish bands are choosing to sing in their original language these days. As the Gloaming’s musical approach has been set to effectively rediscover their past and their Irish tradition, singing in Gaelic reinforces this effect. The issue of translation is interesting, as a renaissance-esque approach to rediscovering old, original languages would argue that singing these songs in Gaelic creates much richer meanings and effects.

Looking further into the style of the warm and soulful male vocals of Iarla O’Lionáird, with the track ‘Oisin’s Song’ as an example, we hear a ‘sean-nós’ style of singing; a style traditionally used in Irish song and dance. Originally designed to be sung without accompaniment, the way in which the Gloaming incorporate instrumentals alongside the singing is intricately handled and impressively executed in a modern twist to the old Irish musical style.

Overall, the Gloaming’s new album is an essential listen, as their musical skill is reigning sky high within the modern folk world. The album is a unique musical experience which will leave you stunned and enlightened into the beautiful world of Irish music.

Rowan Bennett

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