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Niall Of The Nine Hostages




available as...
Auricle AMCDR 235 £7.00
bandcamp download

duration: 58'10"

1. Ylang-Ylang  5'24"
Pentraeth 28  8'48"
Niall Of The Nine Hostages  3'59"
Intimations Of Immortality  11'02"
The Persistence Of Memory: parts 1-3  16'00"
Earth, Wind And Fire  8'48"
Etude  4'09"

Composed by Kevin O'Neill.
Recorded between August 1985 and March 1986, largely at home on 4-track,
with the OSCar synthesizer, except "Etude" which is performed on the DX21.
Tracks 4 and 5 (part 2) are 8-track recordings at Hollow Sun Studio, in Cardiff. All tracks are mixed and mastered at Hollow Sun.
Originally issued in 1986 on self-released cassette, catalogue number K04.

Authentic reissue of the third solo by Welsh synthesist Kevin O'Neill remastered
from the original private release cassette, out of print for some 25 odd years.

When I offered to review this cassette for Kevin, I had forgotten something rather important about his music; namely, that it is quite unique. That is not to say that it falls outside the sphere occupied by the likes of Schulze, Tangerine Dream, and the UK and USA synth musicians. Rather, there is no-one close enough to Kevin's territory to justify a comparison. As if to make the task of a reviewer entirely impossible, his style defies classification too. His music is improvised, which for Kevin means "giving the emotions free rein. I try to keep my compositional process as simple as possible so as not to let technology get in the way. I avoid computers like the plaque... all drum machines sound the same. Whether it's a Dr. Rhythm or a Linn-drum, I think this is the most cliché-ridden part of modern music, especially E.M."
  The title track is among the most powerfully rhythmic I have heard from Kevin, yet in places it is also supremely peaceful - and you can only achieve that with clever arrangement - featuring sampled drums and an intriguing blend of sequenced and played lines, married with gentle chord work. He gets around his technophobia by doing some of his recording, and all of his mastering, at Hollow Sun studios, where Steve Howell acts as an interface between Kevin's ideas and the extensive hardware. And while the variation within one track is intriguing, even more so is the variety over the whole album. The sequences tend to be simple, but are all the more effective for it - the bass sequence on the title track being a fine example. The sounds range from thoroughly aggressive to beautifully delicate - I almost left my wife for a female vocal sound on Persistence of Memory, until Kevin told me she was synthesized, not sampled. Some pieces really pound along, while others seem to lack either direction or purpose, consisting instead of atmospheres and emotions transformed into sonic ambiences - the mysterious Pentraeth 28 being typical of this side of Kevin's work. And still, each track has Kevin's stamp on it; but to explain just what this quality is remains beyond me. "The best thing would be to buy one and listen for yourself!"

from a review by Greg Truckell in Audion #1 from 1986

Kevin's latest album INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY was released in May, 1986. It's even better (if that's possible) than his previous releases and reveals a more mature and polished style. The album was reviewed admirably by Greg Truckell in Audion 1 so I'll just give a few brief personal notes on the tracks here. Ylang-ylang is serene, but with a hint of underlying tension. Pentraeth 28 is a broody and sometimes menacing cosmic piece. Niall of the Nine Hostages is a bittersweet atmospheric and somewhat introspective work and the title track is an arresting and dramatic tour-de-force. The Persistence of Memory is quiet and emotive with a dreamlike quality. Earth, Wind and Fire is a dark, brooding and chilling piece and Etude, which is a graceful and reflective piece nicely rounds off an extremely fine album which I can't fault one minute of. I thoroughly recommend it and am pleased to learn that it is selling very well.

from a review by Peter Harrison in Audion #2 from 1986

Back in the day we stocked all Kevin's output via Audion Distribution until cassette sales dwindled in the early 1990s. In and out of touch since, if it weren't for connecting via Facebook these reissues would never have happened. Kevin was reluctant as he feels these early works are not up to the standard of his later stuff. Yet it's the original fresh approach (as described by Greg) that sets this aside from his later releases, which far outweighs and technical or musical proficiency IMHO (Alan Freeman).

Original issue: MC (K 04) - released 1986.
CD-R: 20 numbered copies - released 3/1/2017.
Bandcamp download - released 20/11/2018.

Auricle on Discogs
Kevin O'Neill on Discogs


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