Notify’s new album is “InConcept.”
By Daniel Neely
As I write, I’m getting ready to head out to St. Louis for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s North American Convention (www.cceconvention2016.org). For those who might not know, Comhaltas is “the largest group involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music” and is the organization that holds the All-Ireland competitions and Fleadh, which this August and next happens in Ennis. This time around, the provincial meeting – which is the largest of the organization’s meetings in the U.S. – will be hosted by St. Louis Irish Arts (www.slia.org), who have organized a brilliant weekend that will feature music and dance workshops, sessions, céilidhe and a 100th anniversary commemoration of the Easter Rising, in addition to the general meetings in which the organization’s business is discussed. It promises to be an exciting and glamorous weekend. Visit comhaltas.ie to learn more about the organization and to discover a Comhaltas branch near you.
This week, I’ve been listening to Notify’s new album “InConcept.” Led by concertina player Padraig Rynne, the group includes bassist Eoin Walsh, drummer and percussionist Davie Ryan, guitarist and vocalist Cillian King, and piano and keyboard player Cormack McCarthy, and what they’ve put together here is an extremely dynamic and exceptionally nuanced recording that will thrill the musically adventuresome.
I thought very highly of the group’s eponymous first album “Notify,” and with this new release nothing has changed in my opinion of the band. The group remains an incredibly forward looking and musically supple outfit that makes music which plays at the boundaries of style and genre.
However, whereas the first album was very much the product of Rynne and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Duncan, this album feels like more of a group effort and more conspicuously geared toward live performance. “The music on the album was written and arranged equally by all 5 members of the band,” Rynne wrote me in an email. “We recorded it all live with the approach to do the opposite to the last album and create something that can be replicated live.”
The difference is apparent. While the group’s first album leaned fairly heavily on the possibilities of signal processing and studio technique, the focus here is more on group dynamic and personal expression. There are much stronger jazz and funk influences, and the tonal language at times seems to borrow from romantic classicism. If the group’s first album established the band’s overall sound and approach, this new release develops the concept and smooths out any aesthetic rough spots the earlier recordings may have had.
There are some really interesting and I daresay memorable tracks. “Floor Shark” has some of the angularity and drive of the track “Lost in an Idea” from the group’s first album, but it it’s lighter in footing and has a stronger groove. “Reverie” has a fascinating musical structure that seems to combine the stylistic nuance Bill Evans’s piano music and the harmonic palette of J.S. Bach. “Panacea” opens as if a long lost track from the jazz fusion group Weather Report but has a middle section from a 70s AOR funk band.
The album’s stylistic diversity is really quite impressive and should reach a fairly broad spectrum of listeners. Indeed, Rynne told me that when the album was officially released last week and it not only went to number one on the iTunes jazz chart in Europe, but it hit number fourteen on the mainstream chart, just ahead of Coldplay and Adele. This is an excellent turn of events for such a fascinating group.
“InConcept” is a very strong album. To call it a “trad” album would definitely be pushing it, the central role of the concertina notwithstanding, as it draws from too many influences equally to be able to pigeon hole it in any one. However, there’s no trouble in describing it as avant garde in outlook and highly enjoyable to listen to. There is a lot to hear here, so if you’re looking for something fresh to enjoy, this is one to check out. You can find Notify on Bandcamp through their website, www.notify.ie.