UNDERGROUND PSYCHEDELIC folk-rockers Agitated Radio Pilot and Yawning Chasm are releasing new EPs on the independent Rusted Rail label. The EPs will be officially launched at a gig featuring both artists upstairs in the Róisín Dubh on Tuesday at 8pm.
Rusted Rail is run by Galwegian Keith Wallace who feels both EPs - Agitated Radio Pilot’s A Field Day and Yawning Chasm’s The Shadow Is That Hidden - sum up what he is trying to achieve with the label.
“There is an entire world within the songs on these EPs,” Keith tells me as we sit for the interview on a Thursday afternoon. “Both Aaron and Dave would have played together over the years and now they are labelmates. It goes back to this community ideal in music which existed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which I find very inspiring.
“No one is there to be popular or to jump on a bandwagon that left town four years ago. It’s all to do with the music and what’s in it, not with marketing or haircuts. You hear music, you don’t see it. I’d like Rusted Rail to be a home for this kind of music. I’d like to think the label has its own identity and that people will say ‘It’s on Rusted Rail I must check it out’.”
Agitated Radio Pilot is singer-songwriter Dave Colohan and the seven track A Field Day is his second Rusted Rail release. It is an impressive example of modern psychedelic-folk. It may take a couple of listens to get used to but soon beguiles with its poetic and deeply personal lyrics, and its autumnal, pastoral atmosphere.
Dave is a great admirer of The Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention and English psychedelic folk is a major influence.
“I love that music and I think it has something to do with purity and the experience of it,” Dave tells me. “Those bands weren’t afraid to take on what came out of The Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields’ and explore that further. I also like the link between landscape and music that is evoked by these bands, not only in their words but in the sounds their instruments make. It’s like the creation of a pastoral Nevernever Land.”
Stand out tracks include ‘Far North’ which rises into a wah-wah guitar driven crescendo and ‘The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things’, which sounds as if Dave is being backed by a sitar. However it is actually a weird sounding guitar borrowed from Aaron Coyne.
The EP had an unusual genesis with much of it being written a number of years ago in Australia before being left untouched until “the cajoling of Keith Wallace” helped it see the light of day.
“The lyrics came before the music,” says Dave. “I wrote the music for this EP in the last year but I had no lyrics to go with it. Keith heard the new music and liked it but I explained I had no lyrics. He encouraged me to look up some of my old notebooks from when I was in the band Holt and we were touring Australia. So it ended up with this unlikely pairing of recent music and words from a certain time and about certain people.”
Keith was impressed by the final result and offered to release them on Rusted Rail. Dave is pleased the songs are released and beleives A Field Day’s fuller sound, featuring a number of contributing musicians, “captures the Pilot in transition”.
Yawning Chasm is the stage name of Galway underground singer-songwriter Aaron Coyne. He is well known to many music heads in the city as one half of electro/guitar band Mirakil Whip, but through Yawning Chasm he explores, like Agitated Radio Pilot, a modern, ruminative, psychedelic folk-rock.
“I was writing songs on mandolin and they had no home so I started to record them under the name of Yawning Chasm,” Aaron tells me. “I liked the name as it signified a wide open space that gives me the freedom to travel in any direction I like. I was doing gigs under the name but never released any of the songs. Then I recorded this fresh batch over the last couple of months and Keith offered to put them out.”
The stand-out track on the EP is ‘Tumble River’ where Aaron’s voice echoes through a sinister, swirling, spindly sound produced by a Yamaha Portosound keyboard fed through several effects pedals. Although I hate pigeon holing things, the song is excellent Goth-psych-folk.
“My main instrument is a tenor guitar, which has four strings, and the mandolin,” says Aaron. “The keyboard sound was inspired by the sound of water. At the time I was living by the River Corrib and you would hear this noise constantly outside the window. It was like white noise on a radio, and that’s where the idea of the song came from.”
The EP’s six songs were written, performed, and recorded by Aaron onto 4-track cassette in the cosy confines of a shed in Galway, throughout April, May, and June. It may sound primitive (4-track was the height of technology in 1967! ) but The Shadow Is That Hidden has a rich, deep, and full sound, more impressive than its humble origins suggest.
This more intimate form of recording music has becoming increasingly popular among musicians and seems linked with the rise of independent labels and music becoming available via the internet.
“You’re against the clock in a studio and you can feel rushed and end up being unhappy with what you recorded,” says Aaron. “In these alternative settings you can take your time. This way you can record where you are comfortable. You have time to tinker around. It’s more immediate.”
“There is a community of people now who record in sheds or a kitchen,” says Keith. “Bon Iver recorded For Emma, Forever Ago in a cabin in the woods in Wisconsin, but he had electricity so it was possible to do.”