Album Review - Deep End of the Ford / An Táin

Lorcán Mac Mathúna's latest musical project The Deep End of the Ford explores An Táin which is drawn from the text of The Book of Leinster.  "An Táin has a place amoungst the epic myths of the world.  Its relevant and contemporary lessons have echoed throughout two millennia, and is remarkably pertinent today" according to the sleeve notes. "Set in a time of tribal allegiances, An Táin mobilises the peoples of the entire territories of Ireland in an epic tale of greed, ambition, political manoeuvring, deceit and heroism" dealing with the"ruthless Meadbh, whose thirst for supreamacy and wealth ...drags the tribes of Ireland into a bloody conflict"

This sets the scene for a truly remarkable project by Lorcán. Using improvisational techniques he paints a haunting landscape of voice and sound that defy categorisation. Experimental in its design and brilliant in its scope, it places Lorcán and his fellow musicians Mairtin Tourish, Sean Mac Erlaine, Eoghan Neff and Flairthrí Neff a class apart and at the outer edge of avant-garde experimentation. With words taken from medieval Irish manuscripts and sung in original old-Irish form, they tell the story of An Táin in ten movements.  Its conception alone requires musicians of vision and genius and its delivery is exemplary. It requires the listener to conjure up a pictorial landscape within which to place the sounds and music and this in itself stretches your own view of what music can be.  Yes it is demanding of your own musical preconceptions of voice and sound and therein lies the challenge.  Without being immersed in Lorcán's world it is hard to see what he sees or hear what he hears.  This is the point where he and his fellow musicians become the possessed medium through which the art and music must pass if it is to have a voice.

This most definitely throws the door wide open with comprehension coming from immersion in their journey. Suffice it to say that every now and again you need to be challenged and shaken from your reverie.  You need to expose yourself to people that take a different direction and manage to take you with them. Lorcán and company have pushed the boundary but not to the point where they lose you. They have opened the door a little, and you have taken a glimpse inside.  It is a door to the other side of an imagined and more cerebral world. You can hear the voice and the music and the colours and landscapes are strikingly different. You open it further and step through and marvel at the sheer scale of what has been achieved, seeking to understand. A masterful work of genius by musicians that are breaking new ground and opening new doors as they transverse our musical horizons.


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