Multi-instrumentalist Gareth Quinn Redmond is either the Renaissance man of Irish music or he’s stretching himself so thin across various genres that he’s in danger of snapping.
On the basis of his new concept album, inspired by the story of Irish warriors Cú Chulainn and Ferdiad, we reckon he is the former.
Umcheol is yet another proverbial feather that needs to be squeezed into the expanding band of his cap. Those with knowledge of Gaelic will possibly know that the album title, as Quinn Redmond explains in the liner notes, is the Irish word for “ambient music”. There is no generally accepted Irish term, he says, “so we had to come up with our own. The word ‘um’ has no equivalent in English, but in the Irish language it means ‘around, throughout’ or ‘in the vicinity’ [and] ‘ceol’ means music.”
On two long-form pieces, Breacadh An Lae (23 minutes) and Cú Chulainn and Ferdiad (17 minutes), Quinn Redmond – whose intricate musical process shall hereafter be known as the QR Code – pairs Irish traditional music and synthesisers with erratic results.
The first track sets, figuratively, the calm before the storm, and lingers sublimely in the air; the second track is more abrasive, and, while making sense conceptually as it responds to the death match between the warriors, isn’t easy listening.
Not to worry – Umcheol is an intriguing job accomplished with Quinn Redmond’s usual heights of skill and purpose. garethquinnredmond.bandcamp.com