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Dublin four-piece Lankum (brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, Cormac MacDiarmada and Radie Peat) have gained worldwide acclaim for their first two albums and captivating, often euphoric live performances. Their third album, The Livelong Day, recorded and produced by John ‘Spud’ Murphy in the Meadow and Guerrilla Sounds studio (with additional help from Robert ‘Scanny’ Watson and mastered by Harvey Birrell) successfully blends alternative folk and psychedelia. It takes both the earthly and alien elements of their sound to create an immersive, otherworldly sonic landscape.
On The Livelong Day, the band honor the sacredness of traditional Irish songs while allowing them to metamorphose – to expand, grow and breathe. Drawing on their interest in varying styles and genres, from Krautrock to drone to ambient to Brian Eno, they balance this disparate array of tastes to create droning music that is dark, rich and raw.
“Drone is a big part of traditional music because the Uilleann pipes are indigenous to Ireland,” the band explains, continuing “so we’re ramping up that history and taking it as far as we can.” When Lankum deconstruct and reassemble a traditional song, their involvement is never passive. The members push the songs as far as they can possibly go – at times leaving them them bare and true to history, but often taking that bareness a step further – making that which is barren completely desolate.
In spite of this darkness, it is effortless to connect with the songs on The Livelong Day because it is an album without ego. Although there is intensive historical and musical research that goes into selecting, writing and arranging these songs, they are never indulged or overfilled. There is an understanding that if just one note is allowed to drag out with the weight of feeling, it can make a song even more affecting in its sparseness. “In this album we wanted more percussive elements, more rhythm, more movement,” Lankum say of the new record’s sound, “it’s a combination of being desperately depressing and hopeful at the same time.”
“We don’t want to be fossilizing or archiving these songs, we want to be pushing and accelerating them further. Their multi-sensational quality creates a visual atmosphere that you can step into and actually find it very difficult to bring yourself out of.” This quality, more than anything else, is what makes Lankum truly anarchic. The way in which these songs, some of them written centuries ago, live and ring true in our ‘modern’ lives is central to the band’s purpose. “We are trying to communicate our world, trying to communicate what people see when they look at the world and what their experience of reality is. We just want people to forge a genuine emotional connection to our music, on whatever level works for them.”
Mood is central to the expansive musical landscape of Katie Kim. Darkened corners, icy atmospheres and hypnotic knife edge soundscapes. Piano chords stretch to infinity, silence is employed as devastating punctuation, while the voice, in it’s salience is all the scattered beauty a glimmer of light can illuminate. Cinematic in scope and tectonic in delivery, It's as deep as you want or need it to be. A slowcore waltz at the bottom of the ocean, steeped in gloomy ambience. Tension tugs at the heart with this euphoric exploration into the depths of darkness and light.“Holding my hand now the tides incoming/Make us a shield so the light won’t get in.”
Katie Kim has released four studio albums to date: Twelve (2008), Vaults Vol.1 (2011) Cover & Flood (2012) (UK release 2013) and SALT (2016) Nominated for The RTE Choice Music Award for Album Of The Year. SALT was recently performed live in a series of concerts with Katie Kim and Crash Ensemble in its entirety, in an alternative reworked form, with arrangements from composer Sean Clancy for Crash and launched to a sold out National Concert Hall. She has also scored an original soundtrack for the 1928 surrealist Germain Dulac silent film, "La Coquille et Le Clergyman", commissioned by The Cork French Film Festival, which she also performed with her full band, live, in front of a sold out audience and acclaimed director Agnes Varda.
She has been part of many collaborations, including The Waterboys, Radie Peat, Sean MacErlaine, Crash Ensemble, David Kitt and Halves.
"Katie Kim evokes everything from William Basinski’s starker works, early Labradford and the landscape of loss so masterfully soundtracked by the likes of Aidan Baker, Tim Hecker and Stars of The Lid "
“'Salt' is an album to surrender yourself to.The artist’s third album is a journey worth taking. If you don’t want to, then you definitely should take it anyway. The music is hypnotic. Katie Kim’s voice lulls you into an uneasy sense of calm while the knife-edge soundscapes of 'Salt' always feel inches away into becoming all-encompassing wave of sound that could easily swallow the record whole. 'Salt' is unflinching precision.”
“Your jaw drops. At times the production is deceptively murky and reverby, as if trying to shield the listener from the gorgeous songs lilting underneath. Any cleaner and we couldn’t handle it. And the voice, oh the voice! As relaxed and unaffected as it sounds, the album is just riddled with beautiful vocal performances throughout, as soft as crystals.'Salt' is intriguing, sharp and bold, and where you could be forgiven for thinking Katie Kim already had a solid mastery of inventive songwriting, this is a fairly staggering leap forward.”
“Salt illuminates and ignites her songwriting pedigree to a brilliant new level; these nine vignettes align craft and technique with outright innovation. Most excitingly, the textures are almost tangible in their ferocity – Kim’s own vocals are soothing and empathetic while also sounding a million light years away. And therein lies the tension at the heart of Salt, the album flirts with extremes, making these extremes feel incredibly seductive. Cinematic in scope and tectonic in delivery, Salt is a richly rewarding and profoundly intense listening experience”
"Let us get to the heart of the matter straight away: Katie Kim’s Cover And Flood is very, very good. Appealingly minimal half-whispered melodies blend with primitive guitar arpeggios, or pianos and cellos, or organs and harmoniums, or drum-machine beatz, or electronic fuzz, and over it all varying degrees of echo, reverb, distortion and background noise wash like a comforting lo-fi sea."
"There are twenty songs on Cover & Flood, twenty pieces of sound patched together to form an overwhelmingly beautiful whole. It's a myriad of tones and shadows, an experience that rewards close listening as much as it is great to fall asleep to. It's as deep as you want or need it to be. New elements peek their way out of the dusk with each new listen and old, forgotten ones eventually return with all the joy that accompanies a meeting with an old friend. It's an album made for the four sides of vinyl it will appear on, with each flipping of side or changing of disc further building the ritual around listening to it. Noisy, small and half-hidden, it makes no grand gestures or sweeping statements. It is an album confident in itself, as it should be. It will seek no gratification, though it deserves to find it. When Katie Kim's first record, Twelve, came out, it felt like a one-of-a-kind experience, a moment in time. Cover & Flood is all that her début was and much, much more. It's stronger and more assured, with every minute detail bearing signs of the loving touch of its creator. A singular achievement and an important record."
"Katie Kim transports the listener from the mundaneness of an overcrowded 8.45amtrain to the dark of a high-ceilinged townhouse in the throes of night. It shows the talent is there, but the Waterford lady's passion is in idea-forming, not in tidying up for any record companies that might be passing through her recordings. It indicates that not one sound is there by accident, it's been pored over. It proves she's an artist of the purest kind, a visionary."
"Waterford songstress Katie Kim offers her forthcoming sophomore release, Cover and Flood. Like the echo chamber divinity of a Zola Jesus ballad or CocoRosie’s dank naïveté. Irish native Kim writes a soft dirge. Heavy with bare gossamer isolation, the album eventually rises to the elegant, murky cloud of its conclusion, a total-bummer canticle reminiscent of Long Division-era Low or DM Stith’s “Braid of Voices.”
“'Salt' sees the revered Irish musician explore deeper into the ethereal dimension, for which she has long ago established. The striking intimacy and hypnotic spell cast by the gifted songwriter throughout ‘Salt’ unleashes the most deeply affecting batch of songs to have been unearthed for quite some time”