Sensitively curated from live recordings of improvised performances around Ireland over a four year period, A slender song, is a compelling listen. Woodwind instrumentalist and composer Seán Mac Erlaine’s second solo album is a place where haunting melodies are living, growing things, developing in sympathy with nuanced loops and fluttering particles of sound.
Released on limited edition, transparent orange vinyl, A slender song features a breathtaking collage by the Cork artist Craig Carry. Mac Erlaine considers this to be a sister album to his 2012 release, Long after the music is gone. Where the former was recorded entirely in a small room in County Leitrim, A slender song reflects a life on the road, taking in the flavours and aspects of Cork, Dingle, Dublin, Galway, Laois, Louth, Meath, Mitchelstown, Skibbereen, Sligo, Tralee and Wicklow.
Mac Erlaine’s distinctive combination of his instrumental sound with innovative live electronics runs through A slender song. “The electronic processes have been designed to respond to the instrument and its soundworld,” says Mac Erlaine. “I wanted the acoustic and electronic sounds to meld into one new soundworld.”
“In a sense, the music on A slender song is from playing with all the things I learnt from the first album.” Mac Erlaine continues. It’s the sound of a process.” For Mac Erlaine, it’s a process that keeps on giving.
Seán Mac Erlaine is a Dublin-based woodwind instrumentalist, composer and music producer, recognised as one of Ireland’s most forward-thinking creative musicians. Mac Erlaine works in a variety of settings from free improvisation, contemporary jazz, folk music and experimental theatre.
Within a busy performance schedule, Mac Erlaine works with a hugely diverse range of musicians and artists reflecting his own versatility and interest in cross-platform work. He has performed with leading musical figures and groups including Bill Frisell, David Toop, This is How we Fly, The Smith Quartet, Hayden Chisholm, Lisa Hannigan, Ronan Guilfoyle, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Damo Suzuki, Underground Resistance and The Gloaming.
Mac Erlaine plays alto and soprano saxophones as well as clarinet and bass clarinet, and holds a PhD and Master of Music Performance. Fascinated by performance and movement, he is also a qualified practicing teacher of Alexander Technique in Dublin.
“Across ten tracks, Mac Erlaine moves in a slow fashion, building gasping melodies, droning lines, threadbare ambient electronics and flushes of majestic horn passages puncturing the silence. It’s an exercise in restraint yet has has imaginative limits. It creates a space that has knowledge of modern jazz, improvisation techniques, electronica and folk but bows to none.” – Nialler9
“Seán Mac Erlaine is an explorer at the frontiers of sound, a fearless and generous experimenter who interrogates his instruments for all their sonorous possibilities.” – Cormac Larkin, The Irish Times
“…a quite beautiful album that deserves wide exposure adding to Mac Erlaine’s already burgeoning reputation….” – Stephen Graham, Marlbank.net
“Seán Mac Erlaine understands pacing in the world of live electronics like few other performers.” – Bernard Clarke, Nova, RTÉ lyric fm
“Texture and mood are key players in a sound world where dissonance and melody gently flirt. The overall effect is subtly hypnotic and ultimately rewarding.” – Ian Patterson, allaboutjazz.com
“… experimenting beautifully with the textures of the various woodwind instruments used on the record, subtle electronic loops and rhythmic layers, distortion or digital delays all enrich the sonic tapestry of flowing, fluttering or droning notes […] A haunting collection of slow airs, A slender song sometimes plays like an ambient field recording, expressing all the colours, organic nuances and natural sounds of a quiet landscape.” – Spellbinding Music
“Mac Erlaine is consistently one of the most interesting and adventurous musicians of his generation.”
— The Irish Times