Arriving alongside the almighty Locust, Irish multi-instrumentalist and singer Áine O’Dwyer’s Gegenschein is another mesmerising iteration of her improvised energies, this time harnessed in a durational context over two long pieces excerpted from recordings made at the Franciscan Friary, Limerick City, Ireland on the Winter Solstice, 21st December 2012 - the same day as the world was predicted to end according to the Mayans - and then again in 2013, after the world proved it wasn’t giving up, or was maybe on the cusp of a major phase shift.
In contrast to Áine’s earlier solo releases, Gegenschein is notable for the both prominent presence of her vocals on 12/12/12 and the length of its pieces, consisting of 25 minute and 15 minute works, respectively, which are both broader than anything on her acclaimed Music For Church Cleaners album or Locusts; documenting the multi-instrumentalist docked at the organ seat and rendering two billowing scapes painted in thick, lustrous waves of physical sonic pressure, and resulting a genuinely astonishing spectrum of coruscating, complex overtones.
Like Locusts and Music For Church Cleaners, Áine’s Gegenschein is all the more amazing for the fact that prior to Music For… she had little to no qualifications for playing the pipe organ she was self-schooled as a Harpist and signer - but, thru her personal musical philosophy and improvised compositional approach she manages to generate a totally otherworldly sound from that most crenellated, lofty instrument in way that unflinchingly embraces its infidelity and complexity, and in a documentary style which has become a defining, alluring feature of her beautifully flawed and plangent art form.
The longer of the two at 25 minutes is World Ending, which was recorded after the world was supposed to be kaput, depending your beliefs. It is then, perhaps an elegy for a world that passed, or a prelude for things to come, bubbling between mystic drone and ecstatic fanfare before keening into tempestuous, swelling figures and cascading into harmonic skyfalls that signal a sense of spiritual confusion and turmoil which is only compounded by the recording spaces’s imposing ‘natural’ reverbs - we say ‘natural’ because, although they’re made of stone, they were definitely made by man with a mind to altering the congregation’s mental state, and Áine beautifully turns that in on itself.
Meanwhile on the 15 minute B-side, 12/12/12, Áine’s vocal makes a vital, if detached and distant, appearance buried amid the steepled harmonic gasps of her pipe organ, sounding like a mythical Irish folk goddess heard across a stormy lake, or belting it out from the tunnel of prehistoric New Grange, which coincidentally aligns with the winter solstice and probably bears some intrinsic relationship with the Mayan prophecies, to our imagination anyway.
We’re pretty much floored by this side and Locusts. Your attention is required to both, immediately.