Thursday, December 8, 2011

Best Irish EPs of 2011

1 - In The Black Box - Waves

In The Black Box is the project of Dublin-based electronic producer Dave Donoghue, and project is indeed the word since it's a multi-media affair that encompasses videos, photography, writing, art,and his own podcasts. You can check it all out over at

The Waves EP, as an example of the multimedia approach, would later be accompanied by a set of accompanying videos viewable here. Musically it was already exceptional: 'When It Is Needed' is a spacious track that combines subtly hypnotic loops and a quietly insistent beat with a recurring piano figure, while the techno-leaning 'Coil' and the woozily off-balance 'Eck-Ohs' are shot through with numerous clever touches.

In The Black Box - Eck-Ohs by InTheBlackBox

In The Black Box - When It Is Needed from In The Black Box on Vimeo.

2 - Simon Bird - V

Simon Bird's fifth EP showcased the increasing range of the producer's sound - taking in the dramatically swelling squall and noise of the 'Baphomet Vs. The Great Winged Horse' two-parter (suitably sounding like an aural equivalent of a mythological/heroic poem), the shimmering, exquisitely structured 'Xerox Waveform Godless Ocean', and the eerie, otherworldly strains of closer 'Stillborn in Autumn'.

Xerox Waveform Godless Ocean by SimonBird

3 - Nouveaunoise - Sequence Consequence

Moving on from the hazy, fluid, layered sound of last year's superb Paraphrase Accolade (which nodded to Flying Lotus circa Los Angeles at times), Sequence Consequence is more along the lines of the tecnicolour maximalist (thanks Simon) vibe of acts like Hudson Mohawke and Rustie. Sunny grooves and infectious vocal samples.

Nouveaunoise - Believe by nouveaunoise

4 - The Depravations - Mosey EP

An EP that was apparently just recorded to get their drummer up to speed, but subsequently took on a life of its own. Predominantly acoustic, the EP deals in breezy, mellow, surf-pop tinged songs with charming vocals and vintage-sounding harmonies. As well as that there's some neat flourishes such as the climax of 'Not Forgotten', which (with the addition of those drums) would become a thrilling highlight of their live sets. And judging by those live sets, the upcoming album should be a belter.

Not Forgotten by The Depravations

5 - DeclanQKelly - Yzz

Minimal and acoustic, Yzz shows just one side of a musician who's as likely to produce abstract pieces based around loops and found sounds as he is something like this. A collection of subtly hypnotic instrumentals, there's a warm lo-fi ambience to the guitar tones as well as an eerie, unsettling undercurrent on tracks like 'Phalanx Glove'. One for the winter evenings.

Phalanx Glove by DeclanQKelly

6 - SertOne - The View From Above (Melted Music)

A debut EP from the talented and very-prolific producer (based in Liverpool but from Portadown), The View From Above is an immaculately-produced and varied collection: (largely) instrumental hip-hop with electronic influences, it nods at times to the layered, laidback-but-physical beats of LA-based Samiyam. Judging by the eclecticism of his remix work since, this is only a starting point - potential to burn.

Past, Present and Future by SertOne by MeltedMusic

7 - Bantum - Lay Lay

The latest in a string of impressive EPs from the Cork-born, Dublin-based producer (Lay Lay being the 4th) showcases a sound that continues to evolve. 'An Introduction' bobs and weaves deftly, building towards an irresistible peak; the pulsing, wired 'Gravy' and the superb title track are punctuated by Margie Lewis' rhythmically cut-up vocals; while 'New String' is a more down-tempo ode to sleep paralysis featuring a vocal from Michael Owens aka Owensie.

Lay Lay (feat. Margie Lewis) by BANTUM

8 - Sunken FoalRichter Versions

One of the things that has made the Richter Collective such an exciting label over the last few years is the fact that - although it’s predominantly regarded as a rock label that leans towards the heavier end of the spectrum – many of its flagship artists are so adept at harnessing the pulse and textures of electronic music to a metal or post-rock-influenced sound. Sunken Foal stripped away the guitars, ('transcribing the performed parts into a midi sequencer and arranging the parts for synthesizers') to bring out hidden layers of melancholic atmosphere, menace and spacious, shimmering beauty on tracks by Adebisi Shank (‘Micromachines’), The Redneck Manifesto (‘Tomb Of The Dudes’) and Hands Up Who Wants To Die ('Stopwatch').

Micromachines (Swell Dub) by sunken_foal

9 - Patrick Kelleher/School TourSplit EP (CF Records)

Two very different and reliably unpredictable sides to this limited cassette on CF Records: in contrast to last year’s more ambient-leaning Yes Way EP, School Tour’s side is cavernous, gothic and ominous-sounding; Kelleher’s, meanwhile, is a grab-bag of strange pop oddities – the almost-vaudeville turns of ‘I’m Alive’ and the charming, chiming ‘Tiny Tim Bought a Jetpack’ making for a nice contrast to the gothic synth-pop direction he would pursue on LP Golden Syrup.

School Tour - The Last Exit West ("Patrick Kelleher/School Tour" Split double EP - 2011) by CF Records

10 - T-Woc - Jetstar (Alphabet Set)

The producer and DJ's sixth EP for Alphabet Set is an eclectic mix of off-kilter electronica, hazy instrumental hip hop and deep bass grooves.

zion live by t-woc

11 - Daithi - Embrace

The Galway-based musician combines dizzying, layered violin loops with pulsing rhythms in a unique math-rock/electro/trad/Final Fantasy hybrid. On paper it sounds dubious but on record - or live - it's pretty compelling.

Sleep Like A Stone by Daithi

12 - Datadrip - Collision

Varied EP from the Dublin duo; calling to mind Fuck Buttons on the visceral electronic squall of 'Animals' as well as giving a nod to vintage Depeche Mode on the excellent, niftily arranged 'Wild Neon'. 'Oh', meanwhile, is a patiently paced opener that starts off chilled and builds in intensity, setting up 'Animals' nicely.

Wild Neon by datadrip

13 - Ten Past Seven - Black Box Recordings (Out On A Limb)

After a nail-biting last-ditch success in their Fundit campaign, instrumental 'bog prog' trio Ten Past Seven did as promised and headed for France to record some tunes at Black Box Studios with the aid of Dave Odlum. The result proves their endeavours worthwhile: the Black Box Recordings go some distance to recapturing the intensity and power of the band's gripping live shows. Although you could loosely term it as instrumental post-rock, Ten Past Seven's sound flits between a number of styles even in the space of one track: there's hints of math-rock here and there, delicate ambient passages and ferocious crescendos reminiscent of Come On Die Young-era Mogwai; while at their very heaviest they have a metallic intensity. These three tracks build slowly but irresistibly, tension and release rendered expertly by skilled musicians.

Johnston's Cows by OOAL

14 - Ginnels - Mountbatten Class (Long Lost)

Fuzzy, ramshackle lo-fi goodness from Mark Chester (of Grand Pocket Orchestra and No Monster Club). Also released an album this year. More on that anon

15 - Ed Devane - Room Full Of Empty People (Takeover Records)

C+ P: 'an abrasive, intense record where thumping percussion collides with high-pitched electronic squall. Opening track ‘Wharf’ leads in with blown-out, distorted beats, shuddering bass and all manner of harsh, rasping electronic textures. The percussion becomes more rhythmic on second track ‘2C-me’, which is grimier in tone and more dancefloor-friendly in tempo, while ‘Technoblient’ combines an insistent, pounding beat with more paint-strippingly corrosive noise. Final track ‘Squib’ is perhaps the most compelling of all, its jarring static-fuzz-infused intro developing into a hypnotically layered composition anchored by pulsing bass.'

Squib by Ed Devane

16 - A Shadow - Ebb and Flow (Second Square To None)

Lovely, evocative ambient sounds from Dublin musician Keith Murphy. Also released an album - When All Is Said and Done, What Is Left to Say and Do later in the year. Nocturnal chimes and celestial drones.

17 - The Followers Of Otis - The Claddagh Sessions

Breezy, soulful folk-rock from the Galway-based band, capped off by the smoky balladry of 'River Corrib Song'. Puts a nice spin on some vintage influences.

18 - Bouts - Bouts

Nothing too complex here - recorded and mixed in eight days, Bouts is unashamedly vintage-sounding alt/slacker-rock that nods to the likes of Weezer, Dinosaur Jr or (more contemporarily) Surfer Blood; with chunky riffs, distorted bass and wistful
hooks aplenty.

19 - The Holy Roman Army - Lazerians

Re-inforcing their previous strengths - downtempo, evocative electronica combined with Laura Coffey's dreamy vocals - with an increasing emphasis on rhythmic variety, Lazerians is an impressive development from the duo and augurs well for the album due in 2012. 'Electricity' is pretty infectious, the frequent use of brass works really well with their sound, and there's some neat samba-esque flourishes.

Electricity by theholyromanarmy

20 - Avalanche Ammo - Animals

Frenetic, heavy, breathless post-rock from the Kildare musician on his debut EP.

Panda Capture by Avalanche Ammo


  1. cool list. this was one of my fav irish eps too:

  2. cheers...will check that out, i've heard some of his stuff but didn't know he had an EP out