Donna McCabe from Dublin-based French/Irish band A Ritual Sea reveals some of her all-time records, including Benoît Pioulard, Cate Le Bon, Vangelis, Circuit des Yeux and Angel Olsen. Photos by Moira Reilly.
Benoît Pioulard – Précis
Benoît Pioulard is the moniker used by the American visual and music artist Thomas Meluch. Précis is an album that myself and Flo bonded over while living in two different countries and is one of the records we fell in love to. It got us through two year’s long distance, before Flo moved to Ireland. It’s full of layers of beautifully hazy music, produced with the lightest touch. It is intricate, delicate, dreamy and sensuous. Highlights are ‘Triggering Back’ and ‘Hirondelle’ but it’s all luscious and worth exploring. We met Tom at his gig in Bello Bar last year and got to give him some of our music. He very graciously contacted us after the gig to say he’d enjoyed it. Even if he was just being polite (!) it was a thrill and an honour.
Wild Nothing – Gemini
Gorgeously warm synth pop, from the American songwriter and musician Jack Tatum – I love the lo-fi, bedroom-recording sound of this, especially ‘Live in Dreams’ which captures a special kind of atmosphere. Alongside DIIV, it was a reference point when Flo and I started making music, with this dreamy, romantic, magical innocence to it. The newest album has been produced by the excellent Jorge Elbrecht (of Lansing-Dreiden and Violens, two seriously fucking amazing projects) so I’m excited to hear how his production has influenced Wild Nothing’s latest stuff.
True Widow – As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth
This is a three-piece band from Dallas, Texas that make really heavy, dark droning, southern gothic music with stripped back drumming, and sombre, compelling male-female vocals. Their music sounds so expansive and big for a three-piece, yet manages to keep to asimple, primal and elemental feel. The album came out in 2011 on Kemado Records. Opener ‘Jackyl’ is deeply Lynchian and drowning in reverb, while ‘Blooden Horse’ and ‘Skull Eyes’ are darkly sensual and desolate in the vein of Slowdive. Later releases have come out on Relapse Records and are equally interesting, but this one remains a favourite. The guitarist Dan Philips makes furniture and beautiful illustrative paintings and the artwork on this, especially on the reverse, is lovely.
Cate le Bon – Crab Day
Cate le Bon makes incredibly bold and surreal indie pop music that is both familiar and uniquely strange. It feels like Bowie clashed with the soundtrack of childhood TV theme tunes, like Bagpuss or Tales of the Unexpected. Best tracks on this album for me are ‘Wonderful’ and ‘We Might Revolve’. Her Television-esque guitar playing and beautiful Welsh accent shines throughout. Stella Mozgawa the drummer from Warpaint who is great, also plays on it. Cate le Bon’s ‘Drinks’ collaboration with Tim Presley from White Fence is also very good and worth checking out.
Bladerunner Orignal Soundtrack – Vangelis
We have a lot of soundtrack albums in the house, particularly of horror or science fiction films by the likes of John Carpenter, Goblin’s Suspiria, Twin Peaks, Josef Van Wissem and The Wicker Man (Corn Rigs!). But if I’ve to pick one, it has to be Vangelis’ Blade Runner – it’s Flo’s favourite. ‘Love Theme’ is just ridiculously good – and also appears to have inspired Alex Zhang Hungtai’s (ex Dirty Beaches) dystopian saxophone-drenched ‘Love Theme’ EP which we are both obsessed with. A dream within a dream.
Roxy Music – Flesh and Blood
I’ve been obsessed with Roxy Music since I was a kid. They’ve put out the best album artwork of all time. Yes, the early years are amazing (yes ok, ENO) but frankly I rate late Roxy just as highly. It’s hard to pick one album, but I’m going with Flesh and Blood because of the unashamed synth pop mentality on it. Dodgy covers of Midnight Hour and 8 Miles High aside, ‘Same Old Scene’ ‘Oh Yeah’ ‘Strange Delight’ and ‘My Only Love’ are so, so good. I’ve seen them four times live and every time was a thrill. Flo has a recurring dream that Brian Ferry is my dad, where he comes to meet him for the first time and Brian (my dad) is in a white tux looking like a Prussian Viscount. For the record, my dad is from Crumlin. Sorry Flo.
People of Nothing – People of Nothing
Florian, my partner in crime (and life) is too shy to do talk about his/our music in public, so I’ll take the opportunity to talk about his solo project ‘People of Nothing’. He wrote, played and recorded it largely by himself over a couple of years and released it in 2014 through Anywave and Manic Depression Records in France. It’s a fucking great record (he’ll kill me) that fans of postpunk, alternative, shoegaze, coldwave, darkwave, postwave (all the WAVES) should hear. The best track on it for me is ‘Haircut the Grass’ which is a banger and the reason we first got talking to each other via MySpace over a decade ago. The vinyl run sold out long ago, but the digital is on Bandcamp.
Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology
This is such a great record. Inspired by the art of the legendary esoteric female artist Hilma af Klint. It’s full of richly psychedelic synth pop, in the vein of Stereolab and Broadcast, and her voice is superb. Malcom Mooney of Can features on here too. ‘Did you see butterflies’ is a favourite, as is ‘You Are the Architect’ with Kraut-motorik drums driving underneath shimmering synths. You can hear these are songs by an artist that is very confident in their craft and that’s really inspiring. We got to support her in the Workman’s last year… they were a lovely bunch of people.
Angel Olsen – My Woman
This record gets classified as a kind of indie-folk-rock album but really there’s all sorts of sounds at play here: country, surf, 60s girl groups etc. on the likes of ‘Never Be Mine’ and ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’ and then evolving into Pink Floyd-esque prog and a Patsy Cline croon on ‘My Woman’ which is no bad thing. While the flow of the record isn’t always perfect, each song stands up in its own right, and it’s overall really interesting, brave and empowering. It moves between being raw and vulnerable, to plain fun. ‘Sister’ is devastating though, I can’t listen to it without crying.
Circuit des Yeux – In Plain Speech
Haley Fohr’s vision and baritone vocal delivery is so singular, arresting and unapologetic. It’s stunning and makes you want to get off your hole and make something. It is everything that good art is, or should be. ‘Fantasize the Scene’ is a track that gets under your skin and you’ll struggle to shake off. ‘Do the Dishes’ is another compelling and experimental cracker – touches of John Cale or Scott Walker abound. We saw her supporting Julia Holter a few of years ago in Vicar Street, just her and a 12-string guitar, and it was so good to hear this material live. I saw her again recently in the National Concert Hall, playing almost in complete darkness and this time with a band. It was exhilarating.