Review: Raising Holy Sparks - Beyond the Unnamed Bay (2011)


artist: Rais­ing Holy Sparks
release: Bey­ond the Unnamed Bay
format: MC
year of release: 2011
label: Fort Evil Fruit
dur­a­tion: 50:48

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

2011 marked the end of David Colo­han’s artistic period as Agit­ated Radio Pilot, a name that will be famil­iar to our fre­quent read­ers. Ini­tial dis­may at the end of this great pro­ject will be rap­idly assuaged by this: Rais­ing Holy Sparks, a new band with Declan Kelly and Vicky Lan­gan as addi­tional core mem­bers on this album, as well as a num­ber of guest appear­ances. I was so excited about David con­tinu­ing to record that I agreed to draw the band logo for him after a design of his, even before hear­ing the album.

Now that I have heard it, I’ll describe it briefly as Agit­ated Radio Pilot with elec­tron­ics, and that’s more than it sounds like. ARP through­out the years already dis­played an impress­ive range of styles, encom­passing singer/songwriter, lo-fi songs and ambi­ent, as well as elab­or­ate impro­vised organic drones and inter­ludes. Bey­ond the Unnamed Bay is also such a blend, with “Here Begins Our Last­ing Joy” and “As Far As We Can Go” being the most sali­ent lyr­ical songs. The first is a stun­ningly beau­ti­ful acous­tic track, one of the best Colo­han has ever writ­ten, with Richard Moult on back­ing vocals instead of his usual piano con­tri­bu­tions. The second again fea­tures Moult as backup vocal­ist, but this time over old school pro­grammed drums, synth bass, and organ drone. Another lovely, almost poppy track, which high­lights the new dir­ec­tions of this pro­ject.

The Depths of Bailey Point” is a mam­moth track, incor­por­at­ing exten­ded sound­scape impro­visa­tion, lyr­ical ele­ments from the other songs on the album, and some noisy ele­ments. Other tracks are shorter instru­mental com­pos­i­tions that really high­light the lovely ana­log synth sounds Colo­han has been play­ing around with. “Dia­monds in the Water Where You Swam” and “The Road from Knock­nacarra” are the standout tracks here. “Along the Sea’s Drum­ming” is a slightly longer sound­scape with many dif­fer­ent synth sounds, all main­tain­ing that slightly lo-fi, organic feel. And let’s not for­get the “Hal­le­lu­jah” intro and outro, lovely grainy pieces where Lan­gan car­ries the vocals, backed by rain­fall and piano.

If I seem biased toward this first Rais­ing Holy Sparks album, it is not because I con­trib­uted the logo, but because I’ve been such an admirer of Colohan’s work for a num­ber of years. As such, see­ing this new pro­ject launch so suc­cess­fully is a great joy, even though on a mod­est tape run of 100 on Ireland’s new Fort Evil Fruit label - there truly is a tape revival going on. The music is in keep­ing with the spirit and the com­pos­i­tion qual­ity of Colohan’s earlier music, and though it is a pro­ject that stands by itself, at the same time it feels like a nat­ural con­tinu­ation of Agit­ated Radio Pilot. An essen­tial buy for any­one who enjoyed that pro­ject, and an excel­lent place to start if you want to dis­cover Colohan’s tal­ent.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

A1 Hal­le­lu­jah (1:58)
A2 Here Begins Our Last­ing Joy (3:42)
A3 The Depths Of Bailey Point (19:34)

B1 Bey­ond Blake’s Hill (1:07)
B2 Dia­monds In The Water Where You Swam (3:09)
B3 As Far As We Can Go (3:57)
B4 The Road From Knock­nacarra (4:15)
B5 Along The Sea’s Drum­ming (7:52)
B6 There Can Be No Loneli­ness In Our Singing (3:58)
B7 Hal­le­lu­jah (1:17)