2011 marked the end of David Colohan‘s artistic period as Agitated Radio Pilot, a name that will be familiar to our frequent readers. Initial dismay at the end of this great project will be rapidly assuaged by this: Raising Holy Sparks, a new band with Declan Kelly and Vicky Langan as additional core members on this album, as well as a number of guest appearances. I was so excited about David continuing to record that I agreed to draw the band logo for him after a design of his, even before hearing the album.
Now that I have heard it, I’ll describe it briefly as Agitated Radio Pilot with electronics, and that’s more than it sounds like. ARP throughout the years already displayed an impressive range of styles, encompassing singer/songwriter, lo-fi songs and ambient, as well as elaborate improvised organic drones and interludes. Beyond the Unnamed Bay is also such a blend, with “Here Begins Our Lasting Joy” and “As Far As We Can Go” being the most salient lyrical songs. The first is a stunningly beautiful acoustic track, one of the best Colohan has ever written, with Richard Moult on backing vocals instead of his usual piano contributions. The second again features Moult as backup vocalist, but this time over old school programmed drums, synth bass, and organ drone. Another lovely, almost poppy track, which highlights the new directions of this project.
“The Depths of Bailey Point” is a mammoth track, incorporating extended soundscape improvisation, lyrical elements from the other songs on the album, and some noisy elements. Other tracks are shorter instrumental compositions that really highlight the lovely analog synth sounds Colohan has been playing around with. “Diamonds in the Water Where You Swam” and “The Road from Knocknacarra” are the standout tracks here. “Along the Sea’s Drumming” is a slightly longer soundscape with many different synth sounds, all maintaining that slightly lo-fi, organic feel. And let’s not forget the “Hallelujah” intro and outro, lovely grainy pieces where Langan carries the vocals, backed by rainfall and piano.
If I seem biased toward this first Raising Holy Sparks album, it is not because I contributed the logo, but because I’ve been such an admirer of Colohan’s work for a number of years. As such, seeing this new project launch so successfully is a great joy, even though on a modest tape run of 100 on Ireland’s new Fort Evil Fruit label – there truly is a tape revival going on. The music is in keeping with the spirit and the composition quality of Colohan’s earlier music, and though it is a project that stands by itself, at the same time it feels like a natural continuation of Agitated Radio Pilot. An essential buy for anyone who enjoyed that project, and an excellent place to start if you want to discover Colohan’s talent.
Reviewed by O.S. for Evening of Light
A core member of experimental folk collective United Bible Studies, David Colohan has released music under the Agitated Radio Pilot moniker since 1993, but a new approach taking influence from field-recordings, shapenote singing and Hasidic mysticism saw him adopt a new identity. Beyond the Unnamed Bay takes in spectral avant-folk ('Here Begins Our Lasting Joy'), steadily pulsing synth pieces ('As Far As We Can Go') and hypnotic loop-based compositions ('Diamonds In The Water Where You Swam'), as well as the abstract 20-minute number 'The Depths Of Bailey Point' which builds to a cacophony before ebbing again. Despite the range of styles the record has an unmistakable coherence to it, no doubt partly due to its distinctive ambience - a result of recording in unconventional locations such as an abandoned, flooding car park.
'Colohan seems to have a preternatural sense of the elemental, those dark places we all go to take off our disguises. So
many artists have treaded this ground before and seemed insincere, but Colohan's vulnerability, his human voice that presents these unadorned truths without spin or motive, makes me want to listen and believe.' Foxy Digitalis...more