Album Review: Gareth Quinn Redmond and Conor Campbell – Umcheol (Cú Chulainn agus Ferdiad) 

Posted 3 months ago in Music Reviews

Music Current 20 mar-15 apr – Desktop
BIMM feb-mar-23 Desktop

Gareth Quinn Redmond and Conor Campbell – Umcheol (Cú Chulainn agus Ferdiad) 

[WRWTFWW Records]


When musician and producer Gareth Quinn Redmond’s latest grand collaboration with visual artist Conor Campbell began to take shape – that is to say this remarkable meeting of Irish traditional myth and music with the glistening, warm tones of ambient soundscapes – the pair arrived at the curious realisation that there was no widely accepted term for precisely the kind of work they were creating. So, they arrived at Umcheol.

To paraphrase from the immaculately presented and illuminating liner notes that appear in tandem with Campbell’s arresting art depicting the tragic clash between friends Cú Chulainn and Ferdiad; Umcheol is a compound of “Um” – which has no English equivalent, but in Irish can be understood as “around, throughout” and “Ceol” which of course means music. And thus, the remarkable collection was conceived as, in Redmond and Campbell’s terms, music that is both around but also throughout the listener. Fitting, considering the deeply immersive quality of the synthesiser mastery Redmond brings to duo of pieces that make up Umcheol (Cú Chulainn agus Ferdiad) but also in how the work is so in conversation with traditions and stories that have been present, around and throughout this Island for upwards of a thousand years.

Over Umcheol’s two sides Redmond and his collaborators summon a calm, comfortingly aural plain that almost undulates in anticipation of the frenzied clash between beloved friends damned to fight to the death Cú Chulainn and Ferdiad. At the record’s close, with Ferdiad dying in Cú Chulainn’s arms, the record too arrives at a sort of resolution, new themes and tones reflecting a landscape irrevocably changed. Umcheol (Cú Chulainn agus Ferdiad) feels almost miraculous in the singularity of what is achieved, never before has the ancient sang so harmoniously with the cool futurism of synthetic sound.

Words: Danny Wilson


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