Interference‘s Fergus O’Farrell was profiled in this fascinating radio documentary from RTÉ, Ireland’s National broadcasting service…
Guest Post By: Brendan
Editor’s Note: I was skeptical about the so-called “ambient” genre, but was very impressed when Brendan played me the instrumental music of Bing Satellites. It’s beautiful, unusual and cinematic.
In my quest for new music in recent weeks, I have been trawling Noisetrade and Bandcamp for free Electronica albums. I waded through a lot of bad material before stumbling upon the ambient sounds of Bing Satellites, but the quest was worth it. There is something about this guy’s music with which I connect deeply.
My first experience with his music was the Mostly Ambient Radio Sessions from October 17th. Like most of the music of Bing Satellites, it’s a flowing soundscape of guitar, synth, nature sounds and much more.
The man behind the name is Brin, who also records under other monikers, most notably The Ambient Visitor, and The Lovely Moon. You can read more about him here.
The wealth of music available is somewhat daunting – I have removed a lot of favorites from my ipod to make room for more than 48 hours of material created by Brin. If, like me, you feel compelled to download a lot of his music, the easiest way to do so is to click on the album covers on this page. I was so excited about immersing myself in his ambient music that I decided to attempt my first Muruch interview!
Q. How did you get started making music?
At school, aged maybe 13, I was encouraged by my music teacher to try various instruments. He wanted a oboe or clarinet player for the orchestra but I really wanted to play AC/DC songs so took up the bass, drums and eventually electric guitar. I got my first electric guitar through my school. It is the one I still use today, 28 years later!
Q. You describe your studio setup on the ‘about’ page, but are there a few instruments/devices you would use more than others?
I tend to go through phases. At the moment, I am using the aforementioned guitar through a load of pedals – mainly chorus, delay and reverb. The main thing though is Reason – a really great piece of software. It is easy to manipulate and create new sounds with Reason. Most synth or piano sounds in my music are from that.
Q. Who/what are your influences (besides Brian Eno)?
Thomas Fehlmann, Ulrich Schnauss and Harold Budd. When I first heard the music of each of these people it was a revelation. They each do something that no one else comes close too – and many have tried! I think though, there is common ground between what they all do – there is beauty and space in their music.
Q. Is this a hobby for you or do you make a living off it? If not, do you envision a path to that point?
I’m not sure hobby covers it. An obsession maybe. I do it because I love it and because I have to – I think my head would explode if I didn’t. It is a totally personal thing but one that, luckily for me, other people enjoy too. The fact there is any money in this still amazes me. Who knows what the future holds but it seems pretty positive at the moment.
Q. What are the challenges and benefits to being an independent music producer?
Well, I’m independent in many ways – I release most of music myself or on my netlabel BFW recordings. It does mean that I do almost everything myself but also that I have no boundaries, either to what sort of music I release or how much I can put out.
Q. Do you like ambient music more than other forms of music, and why? What would you say to encourage an audience unfamiliar with the style to give it a try?
Not at all. I listen to all kinds of things (from, as they say, ABBA to Zappa) but ambient music is what I naturally create. Ambient nowadays is a coverall term for a wide range of music, and not all good. I’m drawn to music that is honest and beautiful. For that, Harold Budd is a good place to start, especially any of his collaborations with Robin Guthrie.
Q. Are there other artists you recommend?
SineRider is a genius. A young guy from the US who makes lots of music of varying genres from ambient to IDM to post rock, but whatever the style, he ends up creating something wonderful. And what’s more you can pay what you like to download much of his music. Please do check it out at Bandcamp.
Q. You release a mind-blowing amount of material – how much time goes into a particular project before it’s released?
Much of my music is improvised and recorded live. My studio set up makes this very easy. I have a bank of sounds I can use from synths, computer, guitar and other instruments. All I need to do is switch on and press record. Some of my music (especially performing as The Lovely Moon or The Ambient Visitor) is generative or system based – the music is created mathematically – so these can happen very quickly or take a lot of time. For example, I have been working on the next The Lovely Moon album for a year and it is still not finished but my album Landscape & Drift was recorded in one week. Once I start something, I tend to keep going until I’m finished. I work very quickly too – quite frenzied considering how calm the music often is.
Q. I love your use of nature sounds – can you disclose the source for the samples you use?
They come from all over the place. Some are recordings I have made, others are from various sources online. I use very long echoes and lots of wide reverb which can make these sounds much richer.
Q. Do you have any thoughts about sampling licensed material?
As I see it, nothing is really original in music. What we play is our take on what we have already heard. I see no problem in sampling a piece of music and making something new out of it, as long as it is actually something new. Be inspired, don’t just copy.
Q. How do collaborations work – is there a web service you use to work on something simultaneously or do you each record pieces and then splice them together?
I’ve been lucky enough to meet some very talented musicians in person or online through my music, so finding people to collaborate with isn’t difficult. Sometimes, one person starts a song and sends it to the other to finish. It can create results that neither party expected. It also means you can work with someone on the other side of the world. There are a few ongoing collaborations I am involved with that should produce some interesting results over the next few months.
Q. Considering the wealth of material you have generously made available for no cost, which album would you like us to feature on this post?
I have two suggestions.
The first is actually my first CD release, Visions & Memories.
The second is Soothing Images 1-15, which is a free/name-your-price
download. It is an album of mainly quite improvised piano songs. Each song is accompanied by a suitable photograph. Some of the music on this album is featured in the new coming of age horror movie Found.
I selected Interference‘s “Psycho Jill”, from their brilliant self-titled album. I’ve temporarily re-uploaded the song for those that missed it the first time around. As I said in the Contrast introduction, the song was inspired by a serial killer and features a German scat. Seems pretty mysterious to me…
Interference – Psycho Jill (mp3 expired)
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Maria’s music, but I certainly did not imagine the swirling, moody pop and ambient folk that shrouds her voice on so many of the songs. The opener “Unbelievable” slips a softly atmospheric melody beneath Maria’s rich vocals. The seductive throaty rustle of Maria’s voice cannot easily be compared to anyone else.
The stand out tracks “Mother” and the quieter “Stuck” dip into a darker tone that blends eerie verses with sweeping strings and voxes on the chorus. The instrumentation of the tracks remind me of the more delicate elements of Mazzy Star with a touch of Belly’s debut. Meanwhile, the churning bass of “Fuckability” recalls early PJ Harvey.
Interference‘s Fergus O’Farrell co-wrote the more earnest “Call Me”. “Here You Come” and “Forty Days” return to the muted, airy pop of the opening tracks, this time tempered with the lightest hint of blues. The simpler acoustics of the finale “Swoon” are refreshing, finally allowing Maria’s voice to fully take the spotlight. I’d like to hear Maria’s lovely voice free of so much production, but it’s an unquestionably good album nonetheless.
Maria Doyle Kennedy – Mother (mp3 expired) Maria Doyle Kennedy – Call Me (mp3 expired)
The album is currently only available for purchase through Maria’s website.
The heartfelt condemnations of war “American Townland” and “Nowhere” open Live In Dingle on a much more serious tone than their previous release, with the music taking a backseat to Fergus’ soulful vocals. “I Was Looking For Someone” is a softer, wistful ballad that finally allows the strings to rise with O’Farrell’s voice.
The disc includes idyllic acoustic renditions of “Cain & Abel”, “Prayer For A Voyage”, “Vaj Vaj”, and “Gold” – all from Interference’s self-titled album. Glen Hansard contributes his voice and guitar to “Gold” and the striking wailer “Breaking Out”.
Though I favor the studio album, this live set is well worth obtaining if only for the two opening songs, the Hansard collaborations, and the ravishinge finale “I’m Your Man”.
Interference – American Townland (mp3 expired) Interference (feat. Glen Hansard) – Breaking Out (mp3 expired)