Ireland may be one of the smaller nations when it comes to an underground ‘scene’ so to speak, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in quality.
The usual suspects are always mentioned when it comes to Ireland, but gently grab the corner of your sweater and wipe away the foggy condensation of ‘Bicep unreleased’ and you will discover there is so much more to explore.
A small, sonically educated community are slowly making their mark as one of the most exciting places in the world for underground music; a DIY aesthetic filtering into each emerging concept.
Writer and Irish electronic enthusiast Andrew Moore is your chaperon on an expedition through some of the finest that the emerald isle has to offer.
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J Colleran previously resided over the production of melancholic pop under his MMOTHS moniker, but now conducts epic neo-classical pieces. His recent work takes on a cinematic aura with sweeping soundscapes ,abstract atmospheres and blooming keys that could easily be the score for anything dramatic.
His debut album, 'Gardenia', is to be released on June 29th on Because Music and is inspired by the ancient grasslands of the Curragh Planes in Kildare, Ireland. Colleran has also been selected by Red Bull Music Academy to participate in the prestigious Music Academy programme in Berlin this September. Colleran’s oxymoronic worlds of cold metallica and organic warmth are truly encapsulating.
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Derry artist The Cyclist is about as consistent as they come. His Spa Inca Delirium record was one of the stand out releases of last year, combing warm melodies, energetic breaks and funk tinged basslines to create a truly timeless body of work. He also dons a separate alias under the name of Buz Ludzha, an identity he uses to conduct the dancier side of things, something he describes as a “more bombastic version” of The Cyclist.
You can find his releases under Buz Ludzha on the fantastic Dublin label and record store All City Records, while his work under The Cyclist has been featured on a variety of top imprints such as LA’s 100 Silk, London’s Hypercolour and there is a track featured on a compilation from Dublin label Jheri Tracks.
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When Sage isn’t producing heart-warming and tear-jerking house music he’s working at Dublin’s All City Records. The Dubliner has resided over an education of the city’s residents, providing quality club ready and oddball cuts to Dublin’s vinyl enthusiasts.
A debut EP on Steve Mizek’s Tasteful Nudes label showed us exactly what the artist is capable of, followed by a track on the wonderful Pear imprints PAL compilation. ‘Daylight Blur’ showcases Sage at his absolute best with a synth heavy cut of house that works just as well on the train as it does in the club.
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Jenn Moore’s Dreamcycles alias is behind some of the most experimentally intriguing music coming out of Ireland. She maintains a more academic approach to production and was selected as one of Ireland’s electronic ambassadors for the Red Bull Music Academy in Montreal in 2016.
Her music is like walking through a lucid dream. Twinkling melodies blend together with haunting, whimsical vocals and inspiring dreamscapes to create pieces of music you can completely lose yourself in.
Dreamcycles' live set at this year’s Cork Sound Fair is a fine example of the artists experimental and meaningful approach to music production; producing the sequence specifically for Cork City Gaol, a former women’s prison between the years 1878 and 1923. Listen closely and you can hear pieces of Countess Markievicz’s 1909 ‘Speech to Women’ amongst the intimate waves.
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Experimenting with sound since his early teens, Matthew Flanagan’s DeFeKT alias has become synonymous with proper techno and electro. His hardware based sound first came to surface with an eight track mini album on Irish label Takeover, swiftly followed by a number of releases on esteemed imprints such as Electronic Explorations, Boysnoize Records and Signal Code.
He also makes up one half of the primal techno outfit Tinfoil, alongside fellow Irishman Sunil Sharpe, who’s live show is a welcome, uncompromising change from the watered down and stale techno mainstream culture that is a result of the genre’s soaring popularity.
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You’ll struggle to find an artist as unique as Derry’s Ryan Vail in the entirety of Ireland. He has carved out a distinctive lane for himself through a culmination of folk, electronic and classical sounds, crafting a NI Music Prize nominated record, 'Sea Legs', in the process.
His follow up record, For Every Silence, was also nominated for the same prize, an album which tells the story of a 90 year old piano, connecting emotionally and intellectually with its history and its owner.
A live show, in collaboration with Plume Studios, has also been constructed. I attended the debut performance in the MAC in Belfast and was blown away by how effortlessly Ryan switched from atmospheric house to deafening techno, all whilst maintaining a sincere vulnerability through his touching vocals.
Ryan’s third record, Distorted Shadows, has recently been released, featuring cover art from frequent collaborator Oisin O’Brien, head of Belfast’s DSNT.
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Cork’s ELLLL is a perfect example of why the stereotypical techno ‘boys’ club is a load of rubbish. Amongst her impressive body of work you will find the sounds of dark electronic, minimal techno and ambient drone, which has led to a release on Sligo’s Art For Blind, following a number of critically acclaimed live performances.
She heads the GASH Collective, an Irish collective inspired by the likes of Discwomen to promote the support of female artists and encourage more to take an interest in the scene.
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Young Peter Brien is widely regarded as one of the most talented artists to emerge from Ireland in recent years. 'The Place Is Space' brought on an onslaught of attention for its soulful and nostalgic hip-hop feel, something that has been continued through an affiliation with Dublin hip hop imprint Soft Boy Records.
Influences are gathered from across the globe; from the most leftfield of world music, to Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section and the fantastic Studio Barnhus. You can hear this variety of influence amongst his musical output.
Brien contributed to Pear’s PAL compilation alongside Sage, producing arguably the stand out track on the project in the form of ‘Convertible Woman’, a broken beat, soulful house journey that is an exciting sign of things to come.
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Bloom’s 'Quartz' EP, released in 2012 in Mr Mitch’s ever impressive and forward thinking Gobstopper Records, set the bench mark for experimental grime. Releases aren’t as frequent as you’d like them to be, but when they’re clocked they’re regarded as absolute pacesetters.
'Hydraulics' acted as the Quartz follow up, released on Bristol imprint Crazylegs, blending together the sounds of today’s fear culture (sirens, gun shots and static) with a loose and ever evolving experimentalism that has established the Belfast producer as a scene shaper in his field.
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Waterford’s Myler can sometimes be written off as an artist due to his sheer hilarity. His love for Buckfast could be described as the finest romance story to emerge since Pretty Woman and his gabber and hardcore infatuation seems to know no limits.
Alongside Belfast label DSNT he has flourished into one of the finest techno producers/DJ’s in Ireland, consistently impressing at Belfast’s ‘visually intense’ LUMEN events and even dishing out a jungle set at London’s Corsica Studios alongside electronic kingpin Mumdance.
‘Wheelie Bin Bonfire’ is a personal highlight amongst his back catalogue. Released as part of Art Aud’s Secret Rave series, it blends together Myler’s noise, techno and jungle influences to rip roaring effect.
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