A music blog from Ireland.
Already impressed by Sunken Foal’s prior work in Fallen Arches and Mother Of God, repeated listens to the new LP Friday Syndrome Vol.1 led me to publicly state last month that Dunk Murphy is the best producer in Ireland right now. I still can’t get over it, and although there’s been a rake of great releases already this year it’s my favourite album of 2012 so far.
Themed according to the day he spent working each week, Friday Syndrome is an appropriately-titled haul of 18 tracks in shortish bursts that cut into a total time of 46 minutes. At no expense, I might add, all free to download as a digital album from countersunk.org. This is a huge added bonus as the trend for free albums seems to have dropped off a bit (and I’m pretty certain Sunken Foal would have made a tidy sum if Friday Syndrome had been released on a pay-for basis, so if you’d like to respond in kind there are t-shirts and high-quality prints – as seen in the vid below – for sale on the website).
With two or three times the usual number of tracks, there’s a risk that Friday Syndrome Vol.1 will be broken down into singles. Those which struck me immediately were Thumbtack Alley, The Woods, Calcium Carbonate and Licking The Foil. Others I clearly remember hearing as Soundcloud demos, such as the fantastic Coal Swamp Calamity and Chizzlers and Carol Keogh’s amazing vocal on Monkey Puzzle. But the best thing by far about this album is the experience of uninterrupted listening, no skipping forward. It takes some time to bring the whole album into focus, so thickly forrested with fresh textures and styles that at first, you can’t see the wood for the talent trees. The boundless creativity that Sunken Foal draws from only really becomes clear and defined after the tracks’ repeated blazes of artistry combine, as the mind adjusts and the plays rack up they pin down Dunk’s constantly-shifting musical ideas.
Over-used as the words ‘palette’ and ‘textures’ are, I have to invoke both because they’re really the only adequate descriptions to convey how much is on offer. There is a lush palette of sounds here, an abundance of flavours and rhythms that turn on a sixpence and loops that unfold to infinity. If you’ve ever thought the day of strings and samples has been and gone, then I beg to differ. The taut and clean, big-bodied sounds of bouzouki, guitar and mandolin lend almost bluegrass flavours, that is until the entrance of indomitable heavy beats that Sunken Foal does so well. It gets funky. Folky. Grimy. It gets my metaphor gland pumping out abstract, wild scenarios and I could regale you with imagery of being like a kid faced with cheeky cherry and fizzy cola beats, flossy melodies, marshmallow bass, liquorice strings and synthsours, vocal sherbet and sticky flumps but why finger pick’n'mix by the pound when you can shake down the whole sweetstand in one go?
Neat and capable skills set this release apart from the fray, each track adding mass to hold their own on a very ambitious project. There is a clear distinction between Ireland’s new electronic artists and the vintage brand that Dunk’s been ageing in casks of musical appreciation, and it shows. While the electronic singles that pour out on the web in various stages of development each day have something to offer in brightness and clarity or manage to capture a flavour of mood or nostalgia, perhaps even flashes of innovation, biding by time and experience has led Sunken Foal to all these and more in a single release. Big electronic releases have been thin on the ground this year but even if the opposite were true, I think Friday Syndrome Vol.1 would still be heads above anything else. No rush, but I cannot wait for Volume 2.