Harmless Noise

A music blog from Ireland.

Harmless Noise

January 25th, 2013
Album :: Abandon Reason


A few years ago Declan Kelly began experimenting with the acoustics of/in an abandoned car park seeping with seawater. The cavernous, dying space provided an eerie backdrop for performances by musicians of various experimental natures and resulted in a steady trickle of recordings, a label, music, video, even radio. Declan’s own work is included amongst tracks by various artists with Aine O’Dwyer, Brigid Power-Ryce, Gavin Prior and Yawning Chasm just a few. Check the surprise pairing of School Tour‘s Ger Duffy, September Girls‘ Sarah Grimes and Tony Higgins, aka Junior85. The final piece of the set is the launch gig on Sunday which takes place on-site at the carpark in Galway.

After careful planning, all the sessions are together in a single set, this Abandon Reason compilation I’m In The Abyss. Four levels deep with intent, it takes a particular application for something like this to work, to draw the shared interest of the many people involved. It gives the impression that this dead space evoked something in each of the musicians, the same thing captured Declan’s attention with such endurance. And for me, it works as an artistic construct with all those levels of intention, to be music that succeeds as a collaboration of like minds, without frippery, in a space that has spirit.
Akin to a spiralling ear mould plug pulled from the walls of the car park, instead of goo, the players have injected sound to bounce off every cranny, mapping the underground topography and what takes shape is this final model, finely-detailed album. Music was played on a multitude of instruments, on banjo, harmonium, violin, ukele, harp and keyboards, found in clattering security barriers and puddles, built from the low thunder of a bowling ball. Water Table by Declan and Aaron Coyne as ⇊Underlude⇊ is the one that really calls to me. I’ll leave you with the track and description but have a listen to the whole album. It’s an unnerving listen at times but there’s so much information tucked away in its bays that it opens up quite easily for contemplation.

When recording the Yawning Chasm songs for this compilation we had an encounter with a pair of clampers who happened to just be checking on the place. We were on the third floor down but they treated the whole thing as very ordinary. They were interested to know what we were doing, and amazed by Aaron’s homemade mini-cello and amp (“That’s the most peculiar thing I’ve ever seen!”). We found out from them that the water that covers much of each floor is not rainwater but seeping seawater. I happened to be holding a Zoom at the time so I managed to record the entire exchange, some of which can be heard here.
Also heard is a clip from the very first recording made in the car park in 2010, when Aaron and I brought a baritone ukulele and ebow down. Neither of us had a digital recorder then, so it’s recorded on tape – hence the hiss. Also heard are samples of the vibrations from the machine that pumps the standing water back out of the building (recorded the day after our encounter with the clampers, just before doing the Raising Holy Sparks track). The machine is obviously fighting a losing battle, and the building is bound up in so much legal wrangling that no other maintenance is provided. So the water builds up, and as it does it changes the acoustics.

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