This record is a celebration of the song, the most constant of musical forms. Composers Garrett Sholdice and Benedict Schlepper-Connolly have arranged, re-composed, weaved and stitched material drawn from the songs they love. Working closely with vocalist Michelle O’Rourke, reed player Seán Mac Erlaine and cellist Kate Ellis, they celebrate the way a melody or a lyric can live in memory, heart and limb— turning, dissolving and re-forming, but never vanishing. Experiences become transformed and transfigured, while other perspectives and insights come in the form of deeply reflective improvisations.
A 13th century hymn becomes a spacious meditation over a drone. An opera aria by Vivaldi becomes understated jazz. Sholdice takes a fragment of contemporary Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy’s Yeats setting, ‘The white birds’ and transforms the original, re-imagining the material as a forgotten folk-song, very different from Dennehy’s taut rhythmic landscape. Schlepper-Connolly’s shimmering take on the traditional song ‘I am weary of lying alone’ becomes a vehicle for an incisive, biting sax solo from Seán Mac Erlaine.
The devotional melancholy of Richard Thompson’s ‘Beat the Retreat’ is complimented by an hauntingly spare version of Dowland’s ‘Weep you no more, sad fountains’. American alt- country singer Steve Earle’s ‘Goodbye’ becomes a mercurial lament in Schlepper-Connolly’s hands, while Sholdice’s transcription of a Javanese gamelan ‘ladrang’ is elegant in its simplicity. The album closes with a tender, intimate re-colouring of ‘Angels’ by UK indie trio The xx.
In these songs, old memories ignite and collide with new atmospheres and counterpoints.
‘Nothing could better exemplify the continued vitality of the song tradition’ ★★★★ ‘CD Choice’ – The Irish Times
‘[T]he traditional Irish song “I am weary of lying alone” [features] sublime saturated guitar, majestic singing and spine-chilling note-bending on the saxophone’ – SpellbindMusic
‘… the eclectic set-list spans some 800 years, crossing and blending traditions in a way that is both thoughtful and provocative.’ – Michael Lee, GoldenPlec.com
‘This is a recording that behaves like a book of poems, bringing together materials and ideas, working with aural textures and timbres, and texts, raising questions and evoking wonder – as good songs should. A fascinating release.’ – Michael Lee, GoldenPlec.com
‘The dominant dark-hued atmosphere is one of cathedral-like austerity, a jazz club at its most concentrated, the most intimate of candle-lit salons, all sliced through by illuminating shafts of light. There’s a bewitching hushed quality throughout in thoughtful re-workings exquisitely mined for lyrical elegance and emotional eloquence by vocalist Michelle O’Rourke, reed player Seán Mac Erlaine and cellist Kate Ellis. Contemporary music making at its most intelligent, lyrical and accessible. Recommended.’ – Michael Quinn, Classical Ear
Ergodos Musicians is a fluid band of musicians under the umbrella of Ergodos, a Dublin-based production company and record label founded by Sholdice and Schlepper-Connolly in 2006. Ergodos Musicians’ debut release — I Call to You, an album of music inspired by J.S. Bach — was described by RTÉ Ten as ‘perhaps the most important record of Irish music released this year’. Other manifestations of the group have seen it expand to a full-sized orchestra.
For the Songs project, Ergodos Musicians return to a more intimate formation with a line-up of some of Ireland’s most dynamic and sensitive musicians. Michelle O’Rourke is a vocalist who has performed with groups as diverse as vocal duo Tryst and Danish indie rock group Efterklang. Cellist Kate Ellis is co-artistic director of Ireland’s foremost contemporary music group, Crash Ensemble and regularly performs with Yurodny and her own ReSound project. Woodwind instrumentalist/composer Seán Mac Erlaine plays with This Is How We Fly, amongst others, and his solo album, Long After The Music Is Gone, is released on Ergodos Records.
Benedict Schlepper-Connolly is a composer based in Dublin, Ireland. Benedict writes for a diverse range of musical forms, including chamber music, orchestral works, solo performance projects and music for dance and film. Recent work has included a collaboration with the sean nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. In recent years he has also worked with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Crash Ensemble, the Nieuw Ensemble, Modelo62, Ensemble Avalon, Resurgam, and the choreographer and dancer Liv O’Donoghue.
Garrett Sholdice is an Irish composer based in Berlin and Dublin. His music has been described as possessing an ‘exquisite delicacy’ (The Irish Times). Recent projects include a choral setting of the Cherubikon for Resurgam’s Slava! project, Am Obersee, a clarinet concerto for Jonathan Sage and Ergodos Musicians, and a new piano concerto for Michael McHale and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, premiered in March 2014.