THE GLOAMING dwells at a musical crossroads, enhancing traditional Irish music’s rich, melancholic tones with modern hues of jazz, contemporary classical, and experimental music. Steeped in traditional Irish music since birth, fiddlers Martin Hayes and Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh and sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird are joined by New York pianist Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), and Chicago-born guitarist Dennis Cahill.
While Ireland is a small nation, the diversity in styles between traditional music players from different counties and parishes a few dozen miles apart is a thing of no small wonder. The backgrounds of The Gloaming’s three Irish members show the strength and colour of this ecosystem. Hayes hails from County Clare, where a slow, contemplative, and melancholic sweep of fiddle music holds sway amongst its musicians. A move to America burnished his sound with new idioms, ranging from Arvo Pärt to Sigur Ros. Still very much an East Clare fiddler, Hayes has brought this age-old sound into a modern setting without losing its essence. Hayes’s fellow fiddler is Dublin-born Ó Raghallaigh, whose head was turned by minimal, experimental sounds. His ability to mine the space and texture between the notes with his customized fiddle, part Norwegian Hardanger and part viola d’amore, has produced some groundbreaking work.
Ó Lionáird hails from West Cork, where Sean-nós singing - solo singing unaccompanied by any instrument - is the lingua franca. Passed down the generations, the songs cover a multitude of material: historical events, love poems or bittersweet accounts of loss and emigration, and, of course, songs about drinking and devilment. An exponent of this dark, passionate, and ancient art, Ó Lionáird has taken a unique, indelibly Irish voice and lyrics drawn from Irish literature into new terrain. He has recorded a number of albums for Real World Records and became a choice collaborator for composers like Nico Muhly, Gavin Bryars, and Donnacha Dennehy.
The cast of The Gloaming has proven transformative with the addition of guitarist Cahill, an American from Dingle, County Kerry stock, and Bartlett, who has worked with Antony and the Johnsons, Sufjan Stevens, Glen Hansard, The National, Sam Amidon, and many more. With Cahill and Bartlett’s musical dexterity and shaping, The Gloaming’s reels and jigs attain new and exhilarating heights. It’s a bold and brave combination that creates the distinctive, bracing sound of music then and now, perfectly in tune.
The Gloaming have performed at the most prestigious venues in their home countries. Five shows in February/March at The National Concert Hall in Dublin, and one at London’s Union Chapel, sold out within days, some within hours. Their international touring calendar has been equally impressive, including such notable nights as the Ceiliúradh at Royal Albert Hall (a celebration of the Irish president’s first-ever state visit to Britian); Barbican, Sydney Opera House; New York’s Lincoln Center, Los Angeles’ Bovard Auditorium, Mexico City’s Teatro de la Ciudad, and headlining WOMAD festival.
The Gloaming’s debut was widely considered as one of the finest recordings of 2014, featuring on many year-end best lists including Mojo, NPR Music, and the Irish Times; was picked by The Guardian as The One Album You Should Hear This Week; won a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award; and the Meteor Choice Music Prize for Album of the Year.
The new album “2” was recorded in December of 2015 at Real World Studios and released in late February of 2016. As with the groups debut, it was produced by Thomas Bartlett and engineered and mixed by Patrick Dillett.
- January 2016 (Based on piece by Jim Carroll for Lincoln Center)