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New material gives O Emperor a fresh take on performing

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 07-Nov-2012

With an expansive and rich sound, O Emperor play the Róisín Dubh on Thursday, November 22. The band have just released the double A-side (essentially two singles), Electric Tongues and Erman Gou. These songs are a taster from their second album, which the quintet plan to release next year.

As well as working on new material, the southern band have set up a new base in Cork.

“We spent a good couple of months building our own studio,” says lead singer Paul Savage. “So there was a lot of time painting the place and listening to music. In a way, [the new material] kind of just came about. We were all listening to different stuff and finding different music [including] some eighties synth stuff like Brian Eno and some Krautrock, like Can or Neu.”

The synth/electro feel to the new O Emperor songs came about in part when Phil Christie, the vocalist and piano player was given a new piece of equipment by the father of lead guitarist, Alan.

“It was an old Roland Juno from the eighties, an analogue synth” says Paul. “He started messing around with that, and we kind of just grew into that kind of stuff. We didn’t sit down and decide we were going to go into a synth-led sound. And it may not be yet – it depends on when we finish the album. But at the moment it’s kind of like that.”

Some of the songs from Hither Dither, O Emperor’s 2010 debut, had a lush 1970s feel. The new single, Electric Tongues is an impressive change of direction; it starts out sparsely but soon builds into a combination of guitar and dissonant electro.

“It does start off, and you’re not quite sure what it is – and by the end you’re even more not sure!” says Paul. “The two singles came about very quickly, and we got a mix and decided to put them out because they’re done. Just get something out to keep moving.

“We’re very pleased with how they turned out. They kind of give an indication of what to expect for the album. They’re different in their own right, but are linked by some weird sounds – slightly psychedelic stuff.”

Hither Thither received warm and deserved praise, and went on to be nominated for the prestigious Choice Prize. Paul must have been happy that O Emperor made such an immediate impression.

“Of course,” he says. “It’s brilliant to get recognition and to be a blip on someone’s radar is always nice. People liked the stuff, and they responded to it, which is all anyone creating anything wants.

“I guess the thing now is to capture someone else, but to keep those people on board. That’s always a tricky one. They like the first album, but they may not like the second one – or vice versa.”

People listening to music today do so in the age of the digital download, where bands are often judged on the strength of just one track. But as artists like PJ Harvey, Bon Iver and the recent Mercury prize winner Alt J show, the album is still a valued art form.

“As a band, you spend long hours considering the playlist and how it runs,” says Paul Savage. “Even releasing these singles, it’s nice to get them out but if it’s just a single, it’s over in three or four minutes and that’s it; people move on. With an album, it’s a body of work, and often might have a running theme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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