Tuath (Irish for ‘countryside’)describe themselves as ‘Irish Language Space Rock’. Surprisingly, this is the most accurate description one could apply to them. With echoes of the Brian Jonestown Massacre (indeed the EP includes an Irish language cover of one of their songs), and elements of shoegazing Triphop, Tuath are the sort of band students would have in their music collection to give the appearance of intelligence.
Comprising of Robert Mulhern (playing most instruments) and Ashley Mobasser on saxophone, the band formed in July 2014 and record most of their music on ‘a dying laptop using rudimental mics with a combination of free ware and nag ware’. Coming in at seven tracks, Tuath’s debut EP ‘An Taobh Tuath(ail)’ is a great deal more developed and composed than what one has come to expect of debut EP’s – a refreshing change indeed. All songs are given Irish titles, in fact I will take this opportunity to apologise in advance if my translations are inaccurate or inexact – it’s been a long time since secondary school.
The over-arching impression ones gets from Tuath is that they are awfully fond of other rooms. What I mean by this is that thematically, instrumentally and vocally the music always seems to be coming from somewhere else. The use of an archaic language such as Irish places the songs in the past, but the ultra-modern take on spacey trip-hop catapults it into the future. The swampy, foggy, heavily reverbed vocals sound like they’re coming from an upstairs rave, while the deep, rumbling bass creeps up on you from below the depths. With all available sounds reaching you from seemingly different places, it can be a very disconcerting, but intriguing experience. You get the feeling that each facet of the song is being projected from distant places, only to converge and coalesce in your ears – similar to eavesdropping on several important conversations at once.
What really makes Tuath stand out is the sparsely used saxophone; it’s almost used as a voice instead of an instrument. Whether it’s sustaining long, uninterrupted, wailing notes in ‘Uisce, Uisce, Read All About It’ (Water, Water, Read All About It), or acting in counterpoint to the vocal line in ‘Níl Tú Ann’ (You Are Not There). This track, clocking in at just shy of seven minutes, is the highlight of the EP.
Tuath’s Irish language space rock (I still love that description) is a nice concept and well executed. However, the use of Irish as a lyrical language may have the effect of alienating potential listeners. Still, the thought of them lingering in the other room is very comforting somehow – one fears they may be explosive if they got too close.