Confusing legislation on what walls mean which beer gardens can open up for the citizens of the North aside, it's hard for me to view the bank holiday weekend as anything other than a tremendous step forward for the arts community. While the Executive’s sneering contempt for the independent artist remains, as evidenced by the continued ban on live music (I’ve heard comparisons to Footloose, but it seems more akin to Cromwell’s extremist Presbyterian mandate of ‘No Craic For The Masses’), it’s hard to imagine that we’ll return to the level of lockdown present during the last four months, which can only mean good things for the creative sector.
This was echoed by several announcements in the South that provide a clearer timeline for the return of the live music and nightlife industry. Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, indicated that several pilot events will take place in the coming month to gauge the size, structure and success of indoor and outdoor gatherings. Further decisions about the re-opening of indoor hospitality, mass gatherings and more will be decided at the end of June following the return of outdoor beer gardens, cultural events and museums on May 10.
And while Ireland inches closer to a beloved return of performances, Irish acts continue to make international waves. Icelandic Airwaves, one of Europe's signature and most iconic showcase festivals welcomes the likes of Smoothboi Ezra (who we covered last week), Denise Chaila and THUMPER to their stages this November. Taking place in the capital city of Reykjavík, Icelandic Airwaves will proceed as normal with in-person audiences from all over the globe and industry professionals making the trip to see some of the top developing acts on the planet perform. The best of luck to all the homegrown talent that will brave the festival despite the nearby active volcano.
Speaking of Europe – I’ve grabbed you just in time for an essential addition to your Bandcamp shopping cart (a reminder that this Friday is Bandcamp Friday, meaning all purchases made on the site go directly to artists). ‘European Endless: 12’, a compilation album made up of contributions from several Irish artists, was released in the last week and should make its way to your downloads. With 12 tracks at 12 minutes long each, artists that feature include the likes of Arvo Party, The Bonk, The Ship Argo, Electric Octopus, Junk Drawer and more. A spokesperson for the project indicated that Krautrock legend Klaus Dinger and his ‘motorik beat’ was a huge inspiration for European Endless.
“The contributions could be single continuous pieces of music, random snippets of songs Frankensteined together, or even poetic interludes, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the beat and the length. One minute for every month of the year that we’ve been in lockdown. The only points where this structure is broken are two brief interludes lasting 365 seconds. The beat represents the fact that while we’ve all decided to go different routes musically, we’re all chained to the same rhythm. All of our stories are unique, but they’re all structurally the same.”
With all proceeds going to the Irish Refugee Council, this one-off piece will appeal to collectors and enthusiasts alike.
Albums are not the only thing to keep an eye on going forward either. Paul Noonan of Bell X1 and electronic producer Daithí announced that they have teamed up under the name Houseplants. Both idiosyncratic artists in their own right the duo pair well with each other, as evidenced by the debut track ‘What’s With All The Pine?’ Having previously worked together on Daithí’s album L.O.S.S., their artistic chemistry is natural, easy and infectious. Get them while they’re hot.
And as always, we end the column by turning the spotlight on some of my favourite releases over the last week. Dani Larkin’s creepy and fierce new single (the third from her upcoming debut album) ‘The Red (Maca’s Return)’ sees Larkin put her stamp on the folk genre in a compelling, arresting way. If it's any indication of what to expect on the album, then we’re in for a treat. Elsewhere Derry’s ROE and Dublin’s Tebi Rex team up on the absurdist ‘Hanging With The Trees’ in an indie-pop, hip-hop powerhouse that sees some of the best young acts in Ireland pushing their boundaries in the best way. And finally, the powerful delivery of Eva Gore-Booth’s poem ‘The Body To The Soul’ from the incredible LOAH is as breathtaking as anything I’ve heard this year. The rare release from the singer is always worth the wait.