Irish alt folk and electronica alchemist Seamus Fogarty grew up in Co Mayo in the west of Ireland and spent his early years writing songs about mountains that steal t-shirts, women who look like dinosaurs and various other unfortunate incidents. Built upon a deeply personal foundation of soul-stirring alt-folk, country, blues and electronica, his music has also garnered much praise from the BBC where it has featured heavily across both Radio 3 and BBC 6 Music.
He now returns with his second album ‘The Curious Hand’. It is his first album for Domino and follows his acclaimed debut full length ‘God Damn You Mountain’ (Fence/Lost Map) and his move to Domino will hopefully expose his music to a much wider audience.
Fogarty now resides in London, and the capital provides the canvas for ‘The Curious Hand’. It’s there in the starkly heartbroken ‘Seems Wherever’, written from the perspective of the tube system and the deep well of the city’s troubled soul, and in the stony-faced rush hour commuters in ‘Van Gogh’s Ear’, pouring onto train carriages “bound for Egham or Whimple or West Ham”. But The Curious Hand also reaches back to Seamus’ homeland and past in charmingly simple and direct ways. Midway through the title track, for instance, a sampled conversation between neighbours back in Mayo takes centre stage as the musicians set off down yet another new musical path. Elsewhere, on ‘Tommy the Cat’, a skeletal instrumental becomes a bed for a recording of a shouting competition in the West of Ireland.
Fogarty’s method of lifting sounds wholesale from his environment and tucking them into the folds of his songs like keepsakes, renders himself at once, artist and archivist as well as twisting the notion of the folk singer’s role as collector and custodian of stories, traditions and cultural curio.
‘The Curious Hand’ showcases Seamus’ natural inclination to take his songs and “screw them up,” by applying synthesiser drones and circuit burps, found sounds and spoken word audio samples that give all of his records such wonderful atmosphere, as if they’re haunted by rogue half-tuned signals from another world.
The album was produced by Fogarty and Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Wild Beasts), who also plays on the album. The album also features the multi-instrumentalist Emma Smith (Hot Chip, Jon Hopkins), who plays a plethora of instruments across the album’s 11 tracks.