From Irish folk to doom metal, from nimbly picked acoustic guitar to sonic explorations, the Rusted Rail Christmas party will
have plenty to appeal to adventurous and left-field music fans in Galway.
Independent Galway record label Rusted Rail will host its Christmas party in the Róisín Dubh this Monday from 8pm. Performing on the night will be five very different, but equally fascinating bands and solo artists - Rites, The Driftwood Manor, Phantom Dog Beneath The Moon, Yawning Chasm, and Brigid Power Ryce.
Rusted Rail is run by Galwegian Keith Wallace and the label specialises in acts which range from folk artists to singer-songwriters, to rock musicians, to experimental performers, all united by a defiantly left-field approach which prizes creative freedom and exploration over commercial concerns.
This, along with the handmade sleeves which adorn each release, has given Rusted Rail its own identity, and a following among esoteric music fans, collectors, and those interested by sounds from the margins and the underground.
“People coming along on the night can expect to hear everything from interstellar minimalist folk to pulverising post-Black Sabbath grooves,” says Keith. “It will be a party, a celebration of what has been a very good year for Rusted Rail.”
Opening proceedings will be singer-songwriter Brigid Power Ryce who mixes her languid, Tim Buckley, styled original songs alongside impressive a cappella renditions of Irish and English folksong.
Next up will be Yawning Chasm, aka Galway singer-songwriter Aaron Coyne. “Yawning Chasm are ‘chest deep’ in recording a new album, that I’m co-producing with Aaron,” Keith reveals. “It’s turning out to be wonderfully technicolor.”
Phantom Dog Beneath The Moon, the duo of singer/guitarist Aaron Hurley and multi-instrumentalist and composer Scott McLaughlin will also perform.
Based in Sheffield, they play a captivating and intense mix of folk, shoegaze, and avant-garde. While the influences of Radiohead, Tim Buckley, Talk Talk, and My Bloody Valentine are discernible, the duo’s experimentalism and Aaron’s free and expressive vocal style, give the band an individual presence.
“This will be Phantom Dog’s first Irish gig in two years,” says Keith. “On the night they will be joined on-stage by me and Annemarie Deacy.”
The Driftwood Manor is centred around the talented folk singer and songwriter Eddie Keenan. This year saw the release of TDM’s new album The Same Figure (Leaving ) on Rusted Rail and Slow Loris. It was an impressive showcase of Eddie’s songwriting abilities, combining accessibility and creativity, and mixing influences from Appalachian music and psychedelia, while remaining firmly rooted in Irish folk.
“Driftwood Manor had a great year,” says Keith. “The summer tour to support the album was a great success and two parts to a video trilogy of Eddie’s songs, by Galway film/video-makers tiny-Epics, are complete.”
Special guests on the night will be Galway doom metal band Rites. Although not on Rusted Rail, they have been impressing Keith throughout the year.
“Over the last year when I’ve seen them play live they have consistently nailed it to the floor, and their five-track debut EP was great,” he says. “They are heavy and pulverising and their music is like being hit by an avalanche. They will be a great way to end the night.”
A good reason to go early to the show is that there will be a free compilation CD, created by Keith, and featuring all of the above acts as well as music by Irish avant-folk supergroup Cubs; Dorset’s Directorsound performing ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’; a very original take on ‘The Cherry Tree Carol’ by Mirakil Whip; an exclusive track from the forthcoming Loner Delux album; and Music For Dead Birds’ ‘Four Years From Now’.
One of the most interesting acts on the CD may be Sheffield-based musician Duncan Sumpner who goes under the name Songs of Green Pheasant.
“Duncan’s previous three records have come out on Fat Cat which has released albums by Sigur Ros, but he has chosen to release his new album Soft Wounds via Rusted Rail on January 12, which is something I’m very proud of.”
Keith describes Songs of Green Pheasant’s music as “late night, sleep walking music, featuring guitars, pianos, and trumpets. Think of it as making shoegaze music with acoustic instruments”.
So the New Year promises us this potentially interesting release and Rusted Rail has plans to expand its formats to include vinyl, but given that most music is consumed and listened to on MP3 these days, is sticking with physical releases taking a risk?
“The physical artefact is something that music lovers love,” says Keith. “Today music has become ‘disembodied’. If it’s just something to download because it’s the latest thing or the new X-Factor hit that’s fine, but it’s treating music as a product.
“An album is the way in which music is delivered to the music lover and where the artist can explore bigger ideas, and there is something about holding it in your hands and looking at the artwork.
“You can’t beat holding a copy of Planxty’s first album in your hands and knowing that others have listened to it before just as you are about to now. I see albums as artefacts which archaeologists of the future will find, and wonder what they are, and find a way to play them, and find they enjoy them.”
Admission is €10. Tickets are also available from the Róisín Dubh and www.roisindubh.net