A Year in Music – 2023 – Boa Morte
Cormac Gaan, Bill Toomey, Paul Ruxton, Maurice Hallisey
How are you? How is it going?
Great thanks, we are all doing really well. You just have to watch the news to know that we’re very lucky, really privileged to live the way we do and for us to keep making music.
Do you think it was a good year for music? What were your highlights?
Lots of great releases again this year. Albums created during Covid are still coming out, so I think we saw a lot of new releases both last year and this year. All of us in the group contributed separate lists, with surprisingly little crossover!:
Bill: Lucretia Dalt’s ‘¡Ay!” – although it was released late last year – and Black Country New Road’s (reworked) ‘Live at Bush Hall’. Also, honorable mentions: Sparklehorse ‘Bird Machine’, Lisa O’Neill ‘All of this is Chance’ and Lankum’s ‘False Lankum’. I enjoyed the Billy Woods album ‘Maps’. Overdue for album of the year for me is John Francis Flynn’s excellent Look Over the Wall, See the Sky. Almost forgotten from earlier in the year, Johnny Dylan’s “New Directive from the Bureau of Compulsory Entertainment”.
Morris: In rough order of preference, I like: Maps – Billy Woods, Gut – Daniel Bloomberg, Buying Diabetes Test Strips – Armand Hammer, “trip9love…???” – Tirzah, “I Inside The Old Year Dying ” – PJ Harvey, “Dreams In Splattered Lines” – Wolf Eyes. Albums by Fatboi Sharif, James Holden, JEPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown, Deerhoof, Nappy Nina, Irreversible Entanglements and Sightless Pit and more…. Some live highlights for me were Daniel Blumberg at Rewire, Richard Dawson at Le Guess Who and seeing Matmos at Roundy in Cork. I am currently reading and enjoying The Black Maybe: Liminal Tales by Attila Veres.
Gender: I’ve been digging back into the Neil Young archives and listening to Sparklehorse’s new album ‘Bird Machine’.
Cormac: Kofi Flexx – ‘Flowers in the Dark’ (album of the year probably, surprised it wasn’t on more lists), Modern Nature – ‘No Fixed Point in Space’ (beautiful sounding record), Julie Byrne – ‘The Greater Wings’ ” (the title track is an absolutely perfect song), Ancient Infinity Orchestra – “River of Light” (Tribute to Pharoah Sanders), Pharoah Sanders Reissue – “Pharaoh”, Lisa O’Neill It’s All a Chance. After finally purchasing the 2009 album “Alphabet 1968” and the final release “Oocyte Oil..” (from 2020), Black to Comm delivered “At Zeenath Parallel Heavens” again. Lots of great International Anthem record releases again this year from Alabaster de Plume, Daniel Villareal (with Jeff Parker and Anna Butters) and the sadly missed Jaimie Branch. I also really miss Ryuichi Sakamoto and I’ve been going through a lot of his older records including ‘async’, ‘Playing the Piano’, the soundtracks and the 2023 retrospective curated by Inarritu, ‘Travesia’ and the movie ‘Coda’. Live music highlights included Alex Somers Liminal Soundbath at the Sounds from a Safe Harbor Festival in Cork and Brandee Younger at the Triskel during the Jazz Festival.
Music seems to be on a never-ending cycle of comebacks – with goth making a resurgence this year. What do you think about that?
It’s heartening that there are so many genres being reinvented and even brought together – lo-fi, slowcore, indie jam, metal, mat-rock, jazz and hip-hop, etc. and it’s refreshing that goth never went away. John Robb recently published his book The Art of Darkness: The Goth Story and hosted a great evening at UCC (thanks to UCC Librarian Martin O’Connor) covering his life in music from the late 1970s to now. The book traces the history of the Goths from its ancient roots to the modern day and its various cultural appropriations along the way, it’s a great read. Goth musically is somewhat of a paradox as it is hard to define, but you know it when you hear and see it. I love the fact that these genres/movements can be merged and mutated into something completely new.
Anyone you’d like to see reformed/returned?
Bands I’ve never seen play include These New Puritans (not sure if they’ve toured recently) and The Blue Nile. Also maybe Tom Waits as I’ve never caught him at his Irish shows in the past. Kate Bush too – reports are that those London shows she did were incredible.
Are you happy with the reception of The Total Space album?
We were really pleased with how the album turned out and some of the gigs we did (belatedly) after the album came out – particularly a show at the National Sculpture Factory in Cork with Peter Power, which was probably the most ambitious event, which I put up (huge thanks to Dobbs O’Brien for introducing the show). Also, the album got some really great reviews and great radio in the UK and Ireland and people who heard it seemed to really connect with it. We are really indebted to everyone who has supported the album so far, come to the concerts, bought the album and posted on social media, as well as those DJs and journalists who played and reviewed our music. Paul McDermott’s podcast (To Here Knows When – Great Irish Albums Revisited) was really timely as it’s a brilliant series and has undoubtedly introduced new people to ‘The Total Space’ as well as our first album (which was the main subject of the interview ). Unfortunately, because we can’t tour extensively, it’s really hard for the music to reach an even wider audience – and to be honest, maybe we can’t expect too much. However, with every album release I always hope that it will suddenly just take off – but so far it’s been a slow (20 years) word of mouth process!
Anything else you’re working on, have you started a new album?
Yeah, we’re working on new material now – that’s probably the part we enjoy the most of the whole cycle of writing, recording, mixing, promoting… We’ve been recording new material in the band room and trying to work out what works and what doesn’t. I’d say we’ll take a break from playing live until we have a decent amount of new material. It would be nice to do something a little different and see what comes out of this process!