Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hunters Moon: Part 3

I'm still writing about this Hunters Moon festival in Carrick on Shannon. Previous episodes talk about folky music and weirdo vocal electronic music.

Another big element in the festival's line-up was what might broadly be called psych-rock. Or just rock. Dublin band Seadog did their twin-guitar thing, managing to sound like a post-rock Thin Lizzy with occasional nods towards the motorik sounds of Neu!. I liked them a lot, and would maybe have picked up their record if I had not been seized with the false idea that there as already an unlistened-to copy of it lying around in Panda Mansions.

GNOD were also entertaining with their tunes calling to mind the likes of Hawkwind and other purveyors of weirdo space rock. Their line-up was rather large, and it was noticeable that it included quite a few of the odd festival characters who had been wandering around at Hunters Moon beforehand. Their drummer swigged from a flagon of cider while playing, and looked momentarily non-plussed when it seemed to have been moved beyond his reach by one of the other members of the band… fortunately he was then able to access his backup drink source, a bottle of Jägermeister.

GNOD also saluted the passing of the great Jimmy Saville by incorporating the Jim'll Fix It theme into their set.
Wizards of Firetop Mountain
We also liked hairy Dublin rockers Wizards of Firetop Mountain and were fascinated by the pixie rock of Circulus. Circulus also became an object of fascination to the people I work with, after I had mentioned the name of the festival I was going to… on my return Circulus were the only band they asked me about, not because they had previously heard of them but because their Wikipedia page made them sound like escapees from a 1970s episode of the Old Grey Whistle Test. And I suppose in a way that is what they were like, with their funny instruments, talk of odd tunings, and Mr Circulus' between song chat suggesting that he was channelling Whispering Bob Harris. I think I would like to explore their music further.
We missed almost all of local psyche-folk-rock-improv-etc. band United Bible Studies, in fact just catching their last song, an extended cover of the Planxty tune* '"P" Stands For Paddy I Suppose', done here as a demented rock out tune about love gone wrong and the like. I thought it was amazing, the frenetic music suiting really well the lyrics of obsession and failure, with the look of the band (they were dressed in Halloweeny costume as a variety of ghosts, zombies, vampires and liches) adding to its doomy vibe. But my beloved, a trad purist, thought it was rubbish.

Like GNOD, United Bible Studies seemed to have most of the festival's funny characters in their line-up, including harpist Aine O'Dwyer, who had played a charmingly minimalist set in the church on the previous day. Her write-up in the programme seemed to have been written by a deranged stalker fan; the barring order is still in place. UBS featured so many other random festival weirdoes that I started imagining that maybe I would see myself playing with them up on stage. Dude**.
el Presidente
I will now mention one last act, who do not readily fit in any of the schematic divisions of the players at Hunters Moon. They were Lacey & Vogel. I know they sound like the eponymous members of some US cop show, but they are actually makers of extremely stripped down electronic music. Their set seemed to be long passages of silence interspersed with the sound of something being hit against something or an electronically generated tone. I feel that it was so completely lacking in either melody or rhythm that it cannot be considered as music. That is not really a criticism as such, however. Once you start thinking of their product as sound art it is possible to appreciate it in a different way, with the spaces between the sounds allowing for John Cage-like contemplation.

And that was that. Oh dear, I seem to have gone on for ages and ages talking about bands you have never heard of after all. Just in case you think I have ended up describing every act we saw at the festival, I will list the others that I saw and enjoyed: Toymonger, Boys of Summer, Neural Spank Pony, Akke Phallus Duo, Blood Stereo, Woven Skull, Bela Emerson, and Raising Holy Sparks. Guess the one I made up.

Overall it would have to be said that this is one of the best festivals I have ever been to – the range of (weirdo) music on offer was rather broad, the atmosphere was relaxed, the setting was congenial, and so forth. I don't know if they plan to have another one next year, but if they do I will definitely be there. Maybe you will too?
Our new President
I have actually been thinking about acts that would fit well at a Hunters Moon type festival. I reckon that people from the Finnish Fonal label would go down well. And as well as providing an intriguing range of freaky folky sounds, the Fonal bands also have the advantage of overlapping membership, so you could bring along six people and get four or five acts. I also reckoned that my equally beloved Jane Weaver and Cate Le Bon would fit in, with their odd take on contemporary folk music being likely to win over the most cynical heart. But what would I know?

* Not sure if this is a trad arrrrr or an original composition. It is on Cold Blow And The Rainy Night, the Planxty album with the non-classic line-up and was sung there by the grumpy new guy.

** I should point out that actually this was one of the least drøggy festivals I have ever been to. Only Indietracks could really match it for hardcore abstemiousness towards anything other than the booze. As with Indietracks, the attendees at Hunters Moon did actually manage to exhaust the bar's stock of craft beer, though that should not make anyone think that either festival was full of raucous drunks.

more blurry pictures

An inuit panda production

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