A Map of the Kingdom of Ireland album review: a curiously uninvolving release

Fri, Feb 23, 2018, 05:37


A Map of the Kingdom of Ireland

Various artists

Heresy Records


Heresy label founder Eric Fraad, who curates this meandering compilation, sub-titled “Electro-Acoustic Music from the Island of Ireland”, admits in his introductory liner note that this rarified genre is “not often considered when one thinks of Irish music”.

The follow-up to Heresy’s well-received 2013 release, On the Nature of Electricity and Acoustics, this compilation narrows its focus, concentrating mainly on composer/producer Daniel Figgis and his collaborators.

The sometime Virgin Prune is credited on seven of the album’s 17 tracks, including a couple of fascinating relics recorded in the 1980s under his gender-bending Princess Tinymeat persona.

Also rescued from the pre-digital age is Eighties Rampwalk, a piece for organ by Roger Doyle recorded for the Dave Fanning show in 1981.

The rest of the selections are more contemporary, including interesting recent works from guitarist Tóirse Ó Ríordáin and Microdisney’s Cathal Coughlan.

But though there are moments when the sun breaks through, A Map of the Kingdom of Ireland feels inward looking and curiously uninvolving, illustrating perhaps the danger when musicians spend too much time listening back to, and endlessly tweaking, their own noises, resulting in over-produced, grandiose extrapolations from too modest source material.