The debut longplayer from the – for want of a less trite designation – domestic supergroup ØXN has landed at a peculiar moment for Irish traditional music. Fittingly in a sense, as what CYRM is the sound of the quartet at the centre of ØXN taking folk and traditional forms to some heretofore unseen, utterly energising realms of peculiarity. Leavening the traditional frameworks that make up the bones of these songs with elements of krautrock, rumbling drone, the chilly electronics of Fever Ray and, at points, even the post-rock-informed, sinewy grooves of In Rainbows-era Radiohead.
As the interminable hand-wringing around what it all means that the culture at large has begun to embrace Irish traditional music continues apace; there is something much more interesting percolating on this ØXN record as the super troupe appear to mark a new phase in the development of the musical mode.
ØXN – Lankum’s Radie Peat, behind the scenes sonic svengali John ‘Spud’ Murphy, Percolator’s Eleanor Myler and multi hyphenate songwriter and composer extraordinaire Katie Kim – seem admirably concerned with establishing a new lexicon in traditional songwriting. Over the course of CYRM we sense the boundaries around capital “T” Traditional music being tested in real time, presenting, as they do, their interpretation of a 2019 song penned by Irish artist Maija Sofia alongside century old trad numbers and in doing so, implicitly drawing no clear distinction between the source material. Ultimately we’re left with a satisfyingly singular collection that blossoms in that special space between the alien and the familiar.
Words: Danny Wilson