Music for Empty Ears

Seán Mac Erlaine

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Seán Mac Erlaine’s richly-textured woodwind sound meets an expanded palette through collaborations with Norwegian jazz luminaries Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset on the Irish musician’s breathtaking third album.

Empty Ears is a seductive listen with a distinctive voice all its own.” – The Wire

Music for Empty Ears glows as if lit from within.” – Cormac Larkin, The Irish Times

“The rich-textured woodwind sound of Seán Mac Erlaine scintillates … and damn near coins a new musical language.” – Electronic Sound

“The album’s dreaminess is more than superficial. It follows the logic of dreams.” – The Journal of Music




Seán Mac Erlaine clarinet, bass clarinet, chalumeaux, bawu,
alto saxophone, synthesiser, live electronics, wurlitzer

Jan Bang live sampling, samples, acoustic bass drum
Eivind Aarset guitars, electronics
Sadhbh Ní Dhálaigh vocals

Seán Mac Erlaine’s richly-textured woodwind sound meets an expanded palette on Music for Empty Ears, the Irish musician’s breathtaking new album. Having honed his distinctively-shaped soliloquies over his first two solo records, Mac Erlaine’s work now bears the mark of collaborations with Norwegian luminaries Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset to reveal a fresh, variegated musical language.

The album journeys through a splendour of musical shades: from the gently insistent minimal grooves and hushed invocations of tracks such as ‘The Melting Song’; to slow pans across dark, saturated vistas on tracks such as ‘Winter Flat Map’; to a warm, celebratory treatment of the Irish traditional tune ‘An Buachaill Caol Dubh’; and to moments of visceral, splintered abstraction in ‘Shake and Sigh’ and ‘The Alchemist III’.

Whether it’s the elusive vocals of Galway singer Sadhbh Ní Dhálaigh or Mac Erlaine’s sublime clarinet melodies that catch you, Music for Empty Ears is an album that reveals more and more with each listen. And, with a bespoke print by Dublin design studio Destinctive Repetition, the heavyweight vinyl of Music for Empty Ears is a beautiful and sumptious object to hold as much as to hear.

Music for Empty Ears glows as if lit from within. Electronic music can be cold and uninvolving, but with MacErlaine and his distinguished collaborators there is a tenderness and authenticity to the sound that is riveting; the lines between old and new, between acoustic and electric, between the known and the unknown, are artfully blurred and the results are intensely exciting, scanning the spreading horizons of music but rooted in something ancient.” – Cormac Larkin, The Irish Times

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, and is a member of the groups This is How We Fly and the Quiet Music Ensemble. “One of the most interesting and adventurous musicians of his generation” – The Irish Times

Electronic musician/producer Jan Bang has worked with such luminaries as Jon Hassell, David Sylvian, Brian Eno, and Arve Henriksen. From his work as a pop producer in the 90s, his pioneering work in developing the concept of live remix has led to him being constantly in-demand as producer and performer today. “[Jan Bang is] defying all misconceptions about the vast potential of electronic composition.” – All About Jazz

Eivind Aarset is a guitarist with a unique musical vision that absorbs and reflects all manner of music while retaining an enviable individualism and high quality craftsmanship that can span from quiet intimacy to searing intensity. As one of Norway’s most in-demand guitarists, Eivind Aarset has worked with Jon Hassell, David Sylvian, Bill Laswell, Jan Garbarek and many more. “Norwegian Eivind Aarset is in a class of his own proving that lyricism and raw noise aren’t contradictory.” – The Guardian

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