For Fran, Etched In Glass & Water

by Raising Holy Sparks

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Was Ist Das? haunting, beautiful music. Takes me away every time Favorite track: For Fran, Etched In Glass & Water III.
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SOLD OUT AT SOURCE.

'This is something else; For Fran, Etched In Glass & Water is an album of nine tracks of beautiful ambient washes of sound enlivened by strange and wonderful instruments, created by David Colohan, the man behind Raising Holy Sparks. It builds, drones, rises and soars on the airs that emanate from things that are blow, plucked, pressed and squeezed: accordion, Appalachian dulcimer, autoharp, harmonium, Hohner Organetta, melodica, shruti box, sampled Mellotron and trombone.

This is a lovely change from guitars and such. As much as glass and water are completely separate as forms of matter both in state and composition, they are still materials, and the same goes for these sounds which are always music but evocative and neutral, double-faceted in being full-bodied and bursting with character and all the while the ambience is drawn out so far as to be almost smooth. It’s as though a complementary magic is worked which allows for the unfurling of downtuned swathes of calmative sound, and the obliquely pure voices of the instruments can be heard sincerely, at their truest. The secrets of this music go deep, taken at face value it may seem tranquil, but there is restlessness and suspense to be found despite this. It’s gorgeous to listen, note, anticipate and be surprised and rewarded. Fran must be very special indeed.'
Harmless Noise

'Fran of Sligo town, if you are reading this, please get in touch! For Fran, Etched in Glass & Water is a love letter to you. Remember that Irish bloke (Dave Colohan by name, although you may know him only as Dave) from the bar at the Glasshouse hotel a few months back? Your company had just folded, everyone was partying, and there in the midst was this incredibly amusing gentleman spinning a yarn about how he’d just been in the mountains, filming in the caves. You didn’t believe him at first, but there was something about his smile …

What you didn’t know is that this bloke was a founding member of United Bible Studies (the choral/modern composition ensemble? Michael Tanner? Okay, let’s leave that be for now), and a romantic, and that he went home and recorded this album for you. Yes I know it would have been easily to go back to the hotel and look you up, or to find a sketch artist and stumble around the bars asking if anyone had seen you, but no, that is not the way of an original. We really hope you’re not married. Anyway …

I’m not sure what you listen to (the current top songs in Ireland being “Roar” by Katy Perry and “Wrecking Ball” by Myley Cyrus ~ we will assume these are not your favorites), but if you’re not normally a fan of ambient drone, it’s important for us to tell you that this album is really good. I mean, really good. Like, the sort of album that should make a person get in touch. (I have Dave’s email address and nothing would make me happier. Well actually there are a few things that would make me happier, to be honest, such as the woman I like giving me a ring, but that’s another story.) The album is just beautiful. Seven tracks of “For Fran, Etched in Water and Glass” (referring to you {Fran} the rushing river of the Carrowkeel mountains, and Sligo’s Glasshouse Hotel) bracketed by two tracks of “A Farewell Too Near a Greeting”. I don’t know where he got all these things, but Dave used “accordion, Appalachian dulcimer, autoharp, harmonium, Hohner Organetta, melodica, shruti box, sampled Mellotron & trombone” to create this album. They were apparently lying around his house. The trombone begins and ends the album and the rest are in between. On occasion the instruments are recorded in overlapping fashion, but from time to time a single instrument sets out like a lonely wanderer (especially in “Part II”). I’m not sure if Dave is lonely, but he’s definitely dedicated.

In 1985 Stevie Nicks (you know her, right?) wrote a song called “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?”. She wrote it for Joe Walsh, but she already knew him. This is better. It’s a whole album! Okay, it won’t go platinum like Rock a Little did, but what goes platinum these days, besides hair? It’s a digital release, a public love letter in zeroes and ones. Dave may be old-fashioned, but this is the quickest way to publish an album these days. But it’s also a tape, so think of it as a mix tape, on which all of the songs were written for you. Fran, I really hope you’re reading. A lot of people do desperate things for love, but seldom do they amount to fine art.

To anyone else who is still reading, listen below and you’ll hear the love. This is more than an album. But even without the backstory – even with just the sounds and the sight of Skógafoss - it would be well worth the purchase. Simultaneously melancholy and hopeful, For Fran, Etched in Glass & Water is one of the season’s standout releases.' Richard Allen, A Closer Listen

"Tous les secrets de l’âme d’un auteur, toutes ses expériences, toutes les qualités de son esprit sont gravés dans son œuvre." (Virginia Woolf, Orlando)

'Inspiration sans limite ou travail acharné, on ne peut que constater la productivité de David Colohan, qui officie depuis 2011 sous son projet Raising Holy Sparks et, auparavant, sous l'alias Agitated Radio Pilot. Un coup d’œil à sa page bandcamp et aux dates de publication de ses albums permettra de vous en assurer : un peu moins de 10 albums publiés en l'espace de ces derniers mois. Son esprit créatif est apparemment loin d'être rassasié puisque l'irlandais est également un des membres fondateurs du collectif d'improvisation folk United Bible Studies, qui nous avaient enchantés au début de l'année avec leur album Spoicke. On pourrait craindre qu'une telle activité n'érode la qualité de ses sorties, pourtant, dès la première écoute de For Fran, Etched in Glass & Water sorti sur le label Fallow Field, on est immédiatement saisis.

Imprégnée des paysages de l'Irlande rurale et de mysticisme hassidique (dont est tiré le nom de ce projet), la musique de Raising Holy Sparks tente sur cet album de capturer les souvenirs brumeux d'une journée assez singulière, pendant laquelle Colohan et son groupe d'amis ont entrepris une randonnée dans les montagnes de la région de Carrowkeel pour tourner une vidéo dans des grottes et les tombes d'un cimetière mégalithique. Après avoir passé la soirée dans la ville de Sligo, dans un état quasi-hallucinatoire induit par l'alcool et la fatigue, l'excursion s'est terminée dans un hôtel avoisinant, dont les grandes baies vitrées surplombaient une rivière. Il s'y déroulait une soirée assez animée, où il a pu faire la rencontre d'une certaine Fran, à qui l'album est dédié.

L'album nous transporte rapidement dans les terres irlandaises esquissées par les nombreux instruments joués par Colohan. Dulcimer, accordéon, autoharpe, harmonum, mélodica et surpeti évoquent volontairement l'immensité (comme le suggère la pochette) de ces paysages sauvages, bruts et immaculés, terreau de cette musique folklorique chaleureuse. On sent également une certaine urgence dans ses compositions et dans la façon dont certains morceaux s'enchaînent (For Fran, Etched in Glass & Water III), comme si, précipité par la menace du gouffre de l'oubli, il devait retranscrire ses souvenirs avant qu'ils ne s'estompent. Cette fugacité se lit directement dans les pistes d'ouverture et de clôture : A Farewell Too Near A Greating I & II, qui embrassent le cœur de l'album. Lui, est embué du caractère émotionnel de sa rencontre, du brouillard de sa fatigue et de la sérénité avec laquelle il perçoit, avec recul, cette journée si singulière.

Placer ses fragiles souvenirs dans le creuset durable de cette musique, comme l'on dresse et grave des tombes pour ne pas oublier nos proches. Ce cimetière mégalithique ne serait peut-être pas la seule source de cette solitude que l'on entend au loin, écho également de cette rencontre éphémère, mais surtout révolue. Disque hommage donc, For Fran, Etched in Glass & Water est une très belle déclaration d'amour, aussi sincère que touchante.' SWQW.FR

Un incredibile sincretismo di riferimenti culturali ed esperienze personali trova la propria sintesi in “For Fran, Etched In Glass & Water”, secondo lavoro solitario di David Colohan sotto la denominazione di Raising Holy Sparks dopo l’accantonamento dell’enciclopedico progetto collettivo Agitated Radio Pilot.

Alle esplorazioni del misticismo irlandese, ricorrente in pressoché tutte le sue opere, si uniscono adesso le suggestioni filosofico-religiose dell’haṡidismo e quelle nel naturalismo islandese più desolato (la cascata ritratta in copertina sembra proprio quella di Skógafoss), nonché un episodio tra sogno e realtà narrato dallo stesso Colohan come avvenuto in un albergo di vetro la sera dopo la sua visita di un cimitero megalitico nella zona di Sligo: la magia allucinata dell’epifania e della successiva sparizione nel nulla di una bellissima ragazza di nome Fran, alla cui ricerca il disco è interamente dedicato.

Il tema dell’incontro e dell’addio ricorre lungo tutto il lavoro, fin dai titoli dei suoi nove brani, un breve preludio e una conclusione intitolati “A Farewell Too Near A Greeting” e sette movimenti nei quali è ripartita la title track.
In coerenza con le molteplici fonti di ispirazione, il lavoro assume le sembianze di un’arcana sinfonia in bilico tra leggende di spiriti, visioni sperimentali e ambientazioni rarefatte, che Colohan crea in completa solitudine, riassumendo in sé un’eccentrica orchestra composta da fisarmonica, dulcimer, melodica, mellotron e trombone, giustapposti in molteplici intersezione e filtrati secondo iterazioni droniche, deputate a perpetuare gli inafferrabili momenti di un fugace incontro o i misteri di tradizioni e luoghi scolpiti dal tempo.

Ne risulta un conciso spaccato di appena trentacinque minuti – in chiara antitesi con le ponderose produzioni di Agitated Radio Pilot – che tratteggia visioni tra il reale e l’immaginario, distaccandosi in parte dalle matrici pych-folk per elaborare, a partire dalle stesse, una palpitante formula orchestrale, in grado di unire profondi riferimenti culturali a moti fugaci delle emozioni. Il misticismo che ammanta tutto il lavoro si presta così tanto all’ascetismo meditativo quanto a un rapito coinvolgimento, evocato in particolar modo dalle elongazioni d’archi del secondo e del quinto movimento della title track.

Sono soprattutto questi passaggi a stabilire una connessione con le sperimentazioni orchestrali di Richard Moult, mentre le componenti più spettrali e rarefatte trovano punti di contatto con le trame vittoriane di Michael Tanner. Entrambi i possibili riferimenti offrono dunque adeguata dimostrazione delle vocazioni orchestrali di Colohan, che in fondo non abbandona il misticismo folk al quale ha improntato tutta la sua attività musicale ma semplicemente lo declina secondo un linguaggio rinnovato, per cercare finalmente di catturare la comune insondabilità di una visione naturale, di saga misteriosa o di un sentimento dalla durata di un attimo.

Music Won't Save You

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released October 3, 2013

David Colohan - accordion, Appalachian dulcimer, autoharp, harmonium, Hohner Organetta, melodica, shruti box, sampled Mellotron & trombone.

Recorded in Ballymahon between March & April 2013.

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David Colohan Ireland

'An eerie loveliness that should really be soundtracking a Werner Herzog film; indeed Popol Vuh’s work provides a useful reference point for Raising Holy Sparks as, similar to Vuh, the music herein is almost religious in its solemnity and grace.' The Active Listener ... more

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