VA: An Taobh Tuathail, Volume 1

Thankfully, the music on this compilation disc rolls off the tongue more easily than does its title. If you're wondering why Psychonavigation opted for such an unusual title, wonder no longer: An Taobh Tuathail (Gaelic for ‘The Other Side') is actually the name of a popular nightly show founded by Cian Ó Cíobháin that's been broadcasting underground sounds on Raidió na Gaeltachta/ Anocht FM since 1999 and now finds itself transmitting on CD too. The show's diversity is clearly captured in the hour-long mix of electronica, pop, folk, and post-rock, though symphonic, string-drenched atmospheric settings (like OST's “Socrates Dream”) predominate, consistent with the volume's focus on the more ‘reflective' focus of Cian's Monday and Tuesday night shows. The description Psychonavigation supplies for Felix Laband's contribution (“4/4 Down the Stairs”)—fluid and deceptively simple, quirky but user-friendly, funky and day-dreamy—could be extended to the album as a whole.

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti weighs in with the jubilant, off-kilter “Every Night I Die at Miyagi's” while Fug provides laid-back hip-hop flow in his ‘cinematic breaks'-styled “By Gadd” and Dean Honer's mix of Anne Garner's “Home (Mix)” offers a lulling serenade. Others include subtle hints of hip-hop in their head-nodding rhythms (Cane 141, Jimmy Behan). Among the standouts are pieces by Phelan Sheppard and Chequerboard (John Lambert): in “Weaving Song,” Keiron Phelan and David Sheppard (who also operate under the name State River Widening) create melancholy drama in an expansive orchestral arrangement of strings, horns, ‘la-la' vocal weaves, tinkling keyboards, and timpani; Chequerboard subsequently conjoins delicate lattices of acoustic guitars to a willowy pool of electronic noises in “Konichiwa.” Demos from Beatpoet and Heftord find their way onto the set too and their respective pieces, “Tao” (nimble-footed electronic-folk with accordion and pitter-pattering percussion) and “Separation” (heavy clip-hop beats wed to full-bodied strings) sound right at home.

November 2007