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Sean Mac Erlaine Long After the Music Is Gone

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Label: ergodos

Year: 2013

Duration: 43 minutes

1 of 1 ...echoes lingering, from alto sax, soprano and bass clarinet . .
...echoes lingering, from alto sax, soprano and bass clarinet . .

As a title, Long After the Music Is Gone is something to conjure with, suggesting echoes lingering, from the alto sax, soprano and bass clarinets of the gifted young musician, Seán Mac Erlaine. He has also been known simply as Seán Óg on the Dublin jazz scene, notably contributing to a fine record by singer Dorothy Murphy in recent years.

On his new solo album, all the woodwind is crafted by himself, including track 11, Arroo, which features the xaphoon, a single-reed sax, originally made from bamboo. ‘Craft’ seems an apposite word, you imagine the musician recording in all weathers, crouched under Irish skies, absorbing showers of rain, early morning mist, frost, borrowing odd blasts of sun.

He has looked after the electronica too on the record, and the soporific loops on Truskmore seem intended to resonate, after the music is gone. Fluid and curiously warm, that track is followed by the sparse, wheezy – in the best sense, of course - Clayography 111, dedicated to John O’Donohue, best-selling writer of Anam Cara. It sounds like a medieval horn, sounding out of a distant bog, a primal, muddy bellowing and there are further variations in Clayography 1 and 2.

A Curl in the Bonet noodles up a busy sequence of notes in an elusive mood. The title track , Long After the Music Is Gone thrums along to an electronic bass heart beat. An exotic clarinet soars over echoey electronic layerings and atmospheric cymbal brushes.

The arrangement of the traditional Irish air, Amhrán na Leabhar, creates simmering drama, with its wash of electronica, beeps and sepulchral soprano clarinet. In its silences and painterly equilibrium, the record is somewhat reminiscent of harper Cliona Doris’ album A Pale Yellow Sky.

Hildegard von Bingen’s O Vis Aeternitas receives a daring reading, and the German nun (1098 – 1179) who composed it might be forgiven for asking what was going on in the background. But being a tolerant lady, she might be persuaded to let those gentle rustlings and percussive stirrings stay in the mix.

Paddy Kehoe

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