The kaleidoscopic third album from Seán Mulrooney and his Ireland meets Berlin ensemble. Ecstatic folk-psych that full embraces the natural world and living ancestry, through joyful experimentation and deeply rooted sonics.
An inspired soundscape that echoes eclectic and eccentric atmospheres: traditional Irish folk, outsider pop, global sacred music and drone rock.
Features guests from Tindersticks, Clannad as well as Irish troubadour Damien Dempsey.
From Old Irish “meisnech” (‘courage’, ‘spirit’)
“Misneach” encompasses a blend of courage, hopefulness, bravery and spirit.
Titled after this concept of bright bravery, Misneach, is the third full-length from Ireland’s Tau & the Drones of Praise. Following on 2016’s Tau Tau Tau and 2019’s self-titled album, as well as 2020’s widely acclaimed Seanóirí Naofa EP, it is a next-stage realization of the traveler-folk vision of principal songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Seán Mulrooney, whose travels invariably inform the songs being written.
That’s nothing new for Tau, now officially Tau & the Drones of Praise, who have in the past engaged with folk traditions stemming from Mulrooney’s Irish homeland as well weaving in the teachings of the indigenous first nations people from Turtle Island, the continent of America. Recorded like its predecessors mostly in Berlin at Impression Studios by Robbie Moore, who also plays in the main four-piece studio lineup with Mulrooney, Earl Harvin (Tindersticks) and Iain Faulkner (who helmed additional recording in Dublin at Sonic Studios), Misneach is nonetheless the boldest and farthest-reaching work Tau & the Drones of Praise have done, stepping beyond expectation born of their past and into a reimagined future of interaction with the natural world both within and outside ourselves.
Misneach is a homecoming for Mulrooney, who, even as the arrangement of opener “It’s Right to Give Drones and Praise” seems to reference Screamadelica-era Primal Scream, establishes Ireland as the backdrop on which the songs are built. Mulrooney recently told Hot magazine that his return to Ireland from Berlin in 2019 found him “reconnecting to the magic, the mystery and the myth of Ireland…I’m learning to play the fiddle. Trad and our old customs are new to me – but I feel an ancient recognition of them. For me, the great thing about traditional music is that it has to evolve. It’s constantly evolving with respect to the authenticity of the origins, in a very natural way.”
Heralded Irish folk troubadour Damien Dempsey and Pól Brennan from the legendary County Donegal band Clannad are just two of the more than 16 guests featured on the album. Engineer Robbie Moore calls it “adding to the party,” a process where an organic interwovenness is joyfully unleashed. But in the hands of Mulrooney – and the significant company he keeps –Misneach is also the clearest and most live-sounding that Tau & the Drones of Praise have been yet. The songs are brimming with energy but are never overblown or melodramatic, even as grand ideas coincide with arrangements that, despite their depth, remain wholly unpretentious and earthed.
Cultures, languages and gods tie together. In terms of perspective, it can be no coincidence that the first words on Misneach are “I am the tree,” and the last is “hope” in the song of the same name (“ón chré”- the Irish word for hope).
It is an album of ecstatic refrains and a search for wisdom. Wiry electricity and living ancestry.
In the same interview in Hot magazine Mulrooney noted: “We have so much knowledge here, and it’s good to honour that, as well as the landscape and our sacred sites. With the wisdom of our ancestors at our back we can move forward. As John O’Donohue said, the ancestors are pulling boulders out of your way on your path – and you don’t even realise it. They’re always around.”
Quite a party, indeed. And the party is beautiful. Not blind to past woes – the trees in “It is Right to Give Drones and Praise” have of course been cut to build the Queen’s warships – but still daring to move forward towards joy. The party celebrates existence and connectedness. Experimentation and timelessness. The party is Misneach.