There are some recognizable points where Celtic trad, neofolk and contemporary classical music meet. In Scotland, artists like RANT and Aidan O’Rourke occupy this zone occasionally or often but, in Ireland, The Gloaming have planted their flag decisively in this ground.
Formed in 2011 by a group of established and acknowledged Irish and American musicians, The Gloaming have systematically followed a path they opened with their debut album in 2013. I recall listening in puzzlement to the first minutes of Song 44, the opening track. The minimalist pizzicato string, the long chords and the chant-like singing, in Irish, by Iarla Ó Lionáird created a strong atmosphere that had me searching for a proper tag: neofolk? chamber folk? Irish contemporary classical? Celtic ambient? What?
In the end, it does not matter, of course. The Gloaming are their own aural universe: not bound in any time period; recognizably Irish and very global at the same time. No wonder Peter Gabriel quickly paid attention and got them on his Real World label.
What makes The Gloaming so fascinating, apart from the unique style and flawless musicianship, is the way their soundscape is built. Usually very few elements on top of each other (or at least that’s how is sounds) but all very intricately engineered; the feel of both the instruments and the space where the music is played is very palpable. This combines both the physical and the ethereal quality of sound itself. Likewise, the compositions join the cool touch of 20th century minimalists to the earthy Irish tradition and meditative strains. The Gloaming’s music is essentially a meeting of opposites sown together in a powerful way.
In the course of their recorded output they may have become just a wee bit softer and easier to approach – but only just. I recommend their music and hope you have the time and peace to let it really envelop you.
You will find more band info, media and web store at http://www.thegloaming.net