Thursday 20 June 2013

John Mulhearn - The Counter Blast Vol. 1

EP review by

John Mulhearn is a Scottish electronic producer who incorporates traditional Scottish and Irish music into what he does. As he correctly points out, it's not quite like anything we've heard before. There were moments on It's Jo & Danny's mighty 'Lank Haired Girl To Bearded Boy' album where a similar approach was taken, but not quite like this. We'll get to the unavoidable part first: opening track 'Wee Donald' is unlikely to be reviewed without Ivor Cutler being mentioned. There may be electronic textures weaving their way around the song and some big beats, but the bulk of it is based around a spoken-word piece. It's witty, lyrically quite poetic and very much in a similar style to the great man, but it's interesting to hear a different take on an artist who has, until now, being entirely unique.

This isn't a route that Mulhearn sticks to on this EP, the first of a series that the Glasgow musician has planned. 'Silver Chanter' is the closest to conventional electronica, with choppy beats and layers of sounds that range from rough and harsh to smooth and twinkling. It's an ambient piece at times, but one which flits between styles and ensures an interesting listen. You can hear the influence of the more traditional music he mentions on final track 'No More'. Here the same style production is used, but it's toned-down slightly and is combined with a range of whistles and pipes and more. It's the slowest song here, but cranking up the pace would detract from the music and probably result in something totally unpalatable. As it stands, 'No More' is another interesting take on this time-honoured music, where old meets new and finds that, if they put their minds to it, they can get along just fine.

John Mulhearn's website

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