On Sunday while other people went to daytime concerts in a local church I went to a circuit bending workshop run by one Rodger Boyle (who makes dark ambient music as Ruairi O'Baoighill). Circuit bending is when you get old toys that have electronic noise making stuff in them and then you dick around with them to make the electronics make different noises. It involves a lot of drilling holes in toys and ripping them open and then messing around with circuit tester things to bypass the circuit's normal functioning in the hope of finding a new noise. When you find something you like you solder the new link in place and then fit buttons and things to the toy to activate it.
I think I had this naive hope that a bit of dicking around with some old toy would mean that I would be leaving Hunters Moon with my own home-made Moog synthesiser. That was an unrealistic aspiration but the circuit bending was fun. At the start I was thinking, "this is just not going to work" but then there was a real moment of excitement the first time the thing makes an unexpected noise.
Apparently there are people in the world who are able to present concerts using their circuit-bent toys. I could also see how this was the kind of thing one could easily get a bit obsessive about and end up scouring charity shops for cast-off electronic toys to add to a collection of funny noise bits of junk. For all the fun I had with the workshop I have thankfully managed to avoid going down that terrible road.
But I could not spend all day wrecking old toys. Eventually I had to leave the workshop and head out to hear some more music. One notable act I saw was one Ivan Pawle. Mr Pawle used to be one of Dr Strangely Strange. Dr Strangely Strange are one of the first obscure cult acts I ever became aware of, as my friend William Whyte had a cassette of one of their then out-of-print albums. They played a kind of acoustic psych music and also had the winning feature of being Irish (though not so you would notice, as they did not have bodhran in their sound or lyrics about the praties).
Hunters Moon had Mr Pawle playing solo in the church venue. I was quite excited by this but it suffered from teething problems. Over the years it has been obvious that the acoustics in the church venue can be a bit difficult and they were initially being uncooperative, trying the patience both of Mr Pawle and I suspect also of Gavin Prior, who was on sound wrangling duties. My fear was that the concert was going to become one long soundtrack of annoyance but fortunately the acoustics were bludgeoned into some kind of submission. Then this became a magical exploration of the delicate music of Dr Strangely Strange.
The action moved back to the Dock. A face painter was available who must have found it amusing to be painting adults rather than five year olds. Cat Piss Brain Riot won the band name of the weekend competition. School Tour (who may or may overlap with Patrick Kelleher And His Cold Dead Hands) played electronic music while wearing a sticky looking cape that hid his features and made him look like underneath it he might be some kind of squamous monstrosity. Control Unit (from Italy or somewhere like that) were intriguingly goth. A particular highlight for me however were the band thrown together to fill a gap in the schedule caused by a foreign no-show, these being a Hunters Moon supergroup comprising the six or seven people who appear in 50% of the acts who play the festival. They seemed in particular to be drawing from the musical cupboard of popular Irish band Seadog (an act sometimes characterised as the post-rock Thin Lizzy), going down well with the home crowd.
Rhys Chatham closed off the festival. He is one of those names I am aware of though I would struggle to tell you too much about him… I think he is from the New York scene or something. He played a set which involved him playing a variety of instruments and sampling himself to create a textured sound etc.
By now word had filtered round the festival that Lou Reed had died. Chatham alluded to this in his set and the whole event got a bit emo. I know that Reed had become a bit of a comedy figure by the end of his life, characterised by his grumpiness and by a certain self-important distance from the rough music of his youth. Nevertheless, for most people present Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground would have been a gateway into the world of weirdo music. So festival attendees started writing Lou Reed lyrics or messages to him in chalk on the floor while listening to Chatham. Maybe looking at this from one remove that was a bit sad but at the time it had a genuine poignance.
And that was that. Two things I missed greatly from the last Hunters Moon were bands who had been stalwarts of the previous two years, Irish hard rockers Wizards of Firetop Mountain and British mentalists Gnod. But hey, they can't be everywhere.
I think it was on the October Bank Holiday weekend in 2014, fully a year after the above festival that it sunk in that Hunters Moon was over and there would be no more trips to Carrick on Shannon for great music. It does not surprise me that the organisers called it a day. For all that I loved the festival, it never seemed to attract that many other paying punters and it always felt like most of the people present were performers of one sort or another. I am not sure why that is. There is not much of an audience for weirdo music in Ireland but there is more than none, yet it seemed as though this audience was not willing to make the easy journey to Carrick on Shannon. Oh well, such is life, maybe it is for the best that Hunters Moon had three great years and then went away without outstaying its welcome and sliding into shite.
more rubbish pictures
Hunters Moon 2011
Hunters Moon 2012