This debut album from Dubliner Tighe is an uncomfortable and demanding but ultimately rewarding listen about his very personal experience with mental health issues.
The blunt, practical title of Dylan Tighe's debut album seems to suggest a sense of dispassion and ennui and it's true that on first listen at least, these harsh/soft, multi-layered songs have more than a touch of Kid A/Amnesiac about them.
However, the "record" in question here is a medical one. Tighe, an actor, writer and theatre producer, wrote and recorded these heartfelt and tumultuous songs over a period of four years as a very personal account of his experiences with mental health issues, a voyage darkly previously taken by the likes of Nick Drake and Daniel Johnson. Tighe has distilled feelings of fear and isolation brilliantly but the Dubliner's heart pounds in all the right places too as a sense of cautious hope leaks through the confusion.
His frayed nerves find him on the very edge of reason in places as the maelstrom of sound clatters around him. Tighe calls it "counter-melancholic" and Record moves though many moods and textures. Lamotrigine, named after a drug used in the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder, lurches into view with a brilliant drum attack before flowering into a beautiful, sorrowful worry-sick blues, Emergency marries Bernard Hermann-like strings and Spanish guitars to grand effect, and the drowsy Almost Blue sophistication of Opus is superb.
Tighe vacillates between fear, resignation and confusion throughout. It's not fun but the cathartic final track, For Artaud, is a starkly brilliant Grand Guignol which gleefully samples Bertie Ahern's infamous "suicide" speech and proceeds to deliver a series of chants, as a distorted sax staggers all over the nightmarish soundscape.
At just over half an hour long, Record is an uncomfortable and demanding listen. Not so much soul-baring as soul-tearing, it is a deeply personal and deeply moving piece of work.