Aidan Gillen on Sun Kil Moon’s album April, his buried muiscal treasure
‘I have a nostalgic attachment to it because, for me, it’s travel music, and I’ve listened to it travelling to and from some important places, events and people. But I wouldn’t have listened to it as often as I have if it wasn’t great music’
Aidan Gillen and Sun Kil Moon’s album April: “There’s a passage that begins many minutes into a track called Tonight The Sky where it really all comes together around the line ‘I woke up every morning’, that really makes my heart beat. The sleeve photo makes me think of a haunted house, and is appropriate”
Sun Kil Moon’s album April was selected by Aidan Gillen, who played Thomas Carcetti in The Wire, John Boy in Love/Hate and, more recently, Charles Haughey in Charlie. But that’s only scratching the surface of Aidan Gillen’s career. Anyone who has seen him present the Other Voices TV series will know that he’s passionate about music.
In my mind, I bought this album in a shop called Sound Garden in Baltimore, Maryland, while working on The Wire. I used to listen to it on the train between Baltimore and New York City, as there’s a lot of reference to travel on the record. It seemed an appropriate soundtrack to whizzing through New Jersey swampland or run-down Pennsylvanian trackside neighbourhoods on summer nights.
But the reality may be quite different, because I think I’d left Baltimore before the record was released. I lived in the Fells Point neighbourhood and they (or he, Mark Kozelek) also had a later record called Admiral Fell Promises, and there was the Admiral Fell Inn on the corner of my street. In fact Admiral Fell himself was actually buried in a tomb a few doors down from me, so I’m going to go with Baltimore, Maryland even though I don’t think it was actually there at all.
There’s a passage that begins many minutes into a track called Tonight The Sky where it really all comes together around the line “I woke up every morning”, that really makes my heart beat. Also, the songs Harper Road and Tonight In Bilbao; I couldn’t live without those. There’s a long one-note guitar solo on Tonight The Sky that really struck me when I first heard it. The sleeve photo makes me think of a haunted house, and is appropriate.
The songs are very long, and don’t have much in the way of choruses. The guitar sounds on it are often dreamy and liquid. Lyrically it is quite dense, and not easily deciphered. It’s guitar music, and not a radical sound – what’s individual is the lyricism and truth in his voice.
I have seen Mark Kozelek play live a couple of times. The first was at the Academy in Dublin, just around the time that the April album was released and, though they played a great set, the atmosphere was so intense and reverential that it got quite uncomfortable. The silence between numbers became unbearable, and I actually left about three-quarters of way through because I got so vibed out. There was one song he played that I was convinced was all about paper. It turned out to be Tonight The Sky, which isn’t about paper. The band played good and loud that night, with some good scuzzy solos. The next time was, I think, at some point in 2013 in the Union Chapel in Islington, London. This was promoting the Among the Leaves album and wasn’t loud at all. It turned out to be an equally intense experience, and Mark’s guitar playing was stunning. He was sitting down, and was as laid back as I’ve ever seen anyone in performance.
I’ve played tracks from April on the radio when I’ve had the chance. But I also selfishly kind of want to keep it to myself. I have a nostalgic attachment to it because, for me, it’s travel music, and I’ve listened to it travelling to and from some important places, events and people. But I wouldn’t have listened to it as often as I have if it wasn’t great music.
It doesn’t comply with the rules that usually define what an album is. The songs can be very long, and don’t always have a verse/chorus structure. It flows in a dreamlike way, both sonically and in mood. It’s lyrically dense, and I hear something new every time I listen to it.
Taken from Buried Treasure: Overlooked, Forgotten and Uncrowned Classic Albums by Dan Hegarty is published by Liberties Press, at €16.99