Ensemble Ériu: Extraordinary and Unique

Ensemble Ériu
Photo: Jack Talty and Neil O’ Loghlen:

Jack Talty: concertina, bass concertina, electronics
Neil O’ Loghlen: double bass, flute, whistle
Matthew Berril: clarinet, bass clarinet
Matthew Jacobson: marimba, drums
Úna McGinty: violin, viola
Jeremy Spencer: fiddle
Paddy Groenland: guitar
Sam Perkin: piano
Colm O’ Hara: trombone
Saileog Ní Cheannabháin: voice

A different kind of wind blows this way as  the music of  Ensemble Ériu weaves a rich acoustic tapestry around Irish traditional melodies. Fans of minimalist composers and the organic improvisatory spirit of jazz will love this album. Ensemble Ériu was developed by concertina player Jack Talty and double bassist and flute player Neil O’ Loghlen. The music is rich in sophisticated melodies and nuance. It is the kind of album that I am drawn to when I feel stressed or needing something ‘atmospheric.’

I love its unhurried and ‘quiet’ pace. When I listen to the opening track  Jurna I can’t help but noticed how the clarinet, really shines in this track especially when all the instruments quieted down. The fiddle reminds us that though this is a Jazz/classical piece, the Celtic element is still very strong. The marimba adds a Brazillian flavour to the tracks sprinkling every melody with its percussive sparkle. The violin and viola create that baroque kind of atmosphere to their sound.

April really sounds like spring with its jolly melody. Here the piano shines in the middle part. The atmosphere becomes bright green  with Gleann na Réimsí with the sparkly whistle playing of Neil O’Loghlen. I can’t deny the vision  and the inventiveness of Jack Talty as eclecticism is the heart of this recording.  Classical instruments like the trombone, guitar and viola make this album sound like no other because every instrument has its own language or flavour. To have those flavours in the mix can create a sound that’s unique and captivating.

The ambient – laced intro of  3 College Square is the reason why I am drawn to electronic music-or at least acoustic music using electronic sounds. For me, it isn’t  really about the kind of instrument you use that’s important. It is the emotion created when you combine those instruments(or play the instrument in a certain way), electronic or otherwise. I feel that music is after all about sounds and in its basic form, it’s all about vibrations, their shapes and the way they make our minds react as music hits our senses. This one has a second half which is a traditional reel and this is what makes 3 College Square really exciting.

I have never heard of traditional songs done on bass clarinet before. That is why Caoineadh do Leanbh Marbh / Tírdhreach Garbh / Bobby Casey’s is very surprising. The sonorous sound is embellished by the shimmering sound of the concertina. Another ambient greets me with Seachrán Sí. And the note is sustained for a minute and 20 seconds creating a feeling of anticipation. And yes the anticipation is rewarded by the beautiful voice of Saileog Ní Cheannabháin. I miss voices like her’s. It seems these days female singers just want to sound ‘ordinary’ but the heart of  Irish music is always rooted in the mystical. It is that extraordinary way of expression that creates an unforgettable experience. Hearing  Ensemble Ériu is like emersing yourself in a sacred bath of purification. So that you will emerge rich with soul and wisdom.




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