Your Turn To Go It Alone
by Agitated Radio Pilot
Rusted Rail : : 2006
Originally released as a 3" on Rusted Rail, now a free download.
A lynchpin of the Deserted Village collective, David Colohan has been exploring lonely trajectories for many years as Agitated Radio Pilot. "Your Turn To Go It Alone" sees the pilot draw haunted airs and comforting campfire ballads from the midlands forest mists. This double 3" e.p. is housed in a handmade mini-gatefold sleeve.
AGITATED RADIO PILOT – YOUR TURN TO GO IT ALONE
(2x 3" CD-R on Rusted Rail, www.rustedrail.com)
Agitated Radio Pilot is the solo project of Ireland’s Deserted Village collective member David Colohan. I’m more familiar with Agitated Radio Pilot’s instrumental characterization of unease, but the first disc in this double 3” cdr set crystallizes this sound of unease into words. On it, Colohan spins wistful songs of loss lamenting the ephemeral nature of human relationships and the tragic flaws that hasten their demise. Colohan uses his role as storyteller to inhabit these characters and their lack of insight into their flaws only makes them more poignant. It’s like watching a movie where characters compound their poor interpersonal choices with further misdiagnosis of what they should have done; it’s almost too painful to watch. But it is also engaging because it works on so many levels.
In “Get Well Soon”, Colohan laments “One too many times I missed/The loneliness in your kiss” and then later admonishes his ex for not telling him to “get well soon” because “I would have tried” as if the failure of their relationship was ultimately due to her inability to prod him to action. He seems painfully ignorant of the myriad ways in which humans actually communicate. In “Hold Back the Sea” his relationship is cast as a protective wall against the onrushing waves of impending heartache. But is one’s lover ever truly a barrier to the world’s deluge? Musically, the songs are perfectly pitched chamber folk with gorgeous melancholy acoustic guitar, arching organ, clarinet (played beautifully by Sean Og, another Deserted Villager) playing off each other. Though it’s clearly Colohan’s show, almost every track features great guest appearances from Stephen O’Brien, Gavin Prior, Colin Hoye, and the aforementioned Sean Og. For all of the loner lyrical tendencies, these contributions remind us that in the real world, Colohan is far from truly isolated.
While the first disc is comprised of lovely miniatures, the second contains only two tracks. “We Can’t Last” is possibly my favorite on the whole disc. Colin Hoye’s plaintive trumpet hovers above a bed of piano and acoustic guitar minor key figures. Colohan’s deep resonant voice then paints a picture of doomed relationship that is crushed by the weight of personal history. By the time distorted drums and stuttered piano chords kicks in to an oblong groove and Hoye’s trumpet again casts its magic spell, the emotional effect is complete. The final epic track is more of the full-on instrumental droning abstraction that shifts and sways with an awkward quiet grace over its thirteen plus minutes. This kind of meditative release seems inevitable after the raw exposition of pain that preceded it. It is as if Colohan’s pain in hearing himself tell his own story becomes too much to bear and a retreat to pure emotion is the only recourse. It’s the perfect finale to another fine, if low key, release from a talented songsmith. 10/12
AGITATED RADIO PILOT – YOUR TURN TO GO IT ALONE
(2x 3" CD-R on Rusted Rail Records, www.rustedrail.com)
ARP is a project driven by Village lynchpin Dave Colohan (United Bible Studies, Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree, Holt) with collaborators relevant to each piece. The debut ARP release on Deserted Village, 'A Drifting Population' was semi-improvised electric guitar and piano instrumentals inspired by experiencing the Australian outback, and is well worth tracking down if you can, and there are more out there on micro-labels for the curious – this new one is more "Irish" in its privileging of misty airs and haunted balladry. 'Emmet St. 1' set the atmosphere nicely with some nice interplay between Colohan's bleak piano and United Bible Student Sean Og on clarinet. This resonant introduction gives way to one of Colohan's finest and most personal songs 'Hold Back the Sea', which recalls some of the fractured observations to be found on the superb HoltCompact Disc'80 Mile Beach'. Equally majestic is 'Get Well Soon', which has Colohan on voice, acoustic guitar and e-bow, and is apparently named after a Vincent Gallo/Courteney Cox film. And sonically, Townes Van Zandt does indeed cast a long shadow. 'Becky Came By' sounds like a piece designated for an imaginary second Holt album, speaking as it does to Colohan's obviously rich backpacking experiences in Australia. 'Fireplace Road' is another fine ballad, the lyrics compiled from psychic remnants of a time Colohan spent living on Long Island near where some of his favourite painters (De Kooning and Pollock) used to live. The title track is a keen slice of melancholia – fractured relationship music with a hummed guide track for brass that reminded the artists involved of Roy Harper's 'When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease' so they left it in to great effect. 'Last Ride' is a psychedelic folk treasure, emanating from a dream of walking garden gnomes, talking cats and the mental hospital in Mullingar (a recurring theme for Colohan). Without obvious gothic moves, it manages to be deeply odd and not a little creepy, a little like Current 93. Disc 1 of the set is neatly bracketed by 'Emmet St. 2', Sean Og on flute this time.
Disc 2 contains two lengthy pieces that demonstrate the progressive and improvisation aspects of not only ARP, but the United Bible Student movement as a whole. At its heart it is a psychodrama of a ballad, but it is augmented by some wonderfully heartbroken trumpet and wildly disorienting and distorted percussion that pays tribute to the NZ racket-mongers Pumice. It comes off as a species lounge music viewed through a broken mirror of contaminated pharmaceuticals. 'The Barren Ground Assembly' is a full class of students zoning out through an improvised space not dissimilar to that on the United Bible Student live release 'Airs of Sun and Stone', though it has less of that work's morning raga feel, being more of a night creature. Successfully recalling vast moonlit prairie spaces, as it well might, with a title referring to a name given to herds of Caribou.
Although a core element of the Deserted Village stable of projects, ARP have chosen to release their latest work on the new Irish label Rusted Rail. It's a nice package though, quite why the release needed to be a double 3" set rather than a single standard set is moot. I get the idea that the short songs on disc 1 are quite different to the extended tracks on disc 2, but I think most folks could mentally compartmentalise were they to be on a single 5" disc, which is what I'm going to do to the tracks right now – they'll be nice to have in the car for company. (Tony Dale)
AGITATED RADIO PILOT – YOUR TURN TO GO IT ALONE
(2x 3" CD-R on Rusted Rail, www.rustedrail.com)
The rain that will come turns land into sea for a time (Becky Came By)
During one week in May, 2006 more than twenty inches of rain fell on the north shore of Massachusetts. Rivers burst their edges, pouring through streets and pooling in empty fields. Even weeks later trees could be seen sticking out of newly formed marshes. Whole sections of land had changed, becoming new environments. The world had transformed in the blink of an eye. Then, when the water had receded, it was as if nothing had ever happened.
The mystery of the natural world, its movements and rhythms flow through the music of Dave Colohan. His latest flight as the “Agitated Radio Pilot,” “Your Turn to Go At It Alone” is the first release on his newly created label Rusted Rail. The album is split between two 3-inch cds and housed in a miniature handmade gatefold sleeve. “Your Turn…” runs the gamut between spectral Current 93-style folk, Harold Budd-esque electro/acoustic compositions, but maintains Colohan’s unique, striking musical vision. It’s the attention to detail here, the perfect balance of instrumentation and space that make these songs seem so open and simultaneous mysterious. His choices, the reverb electric guitar lines on “Becky Came By,” reminiscent of Don Peris’ work on early “Innocence Mission” records, are simple and haunting. Likewise, little surprises, such as the shuffling wooden percussion on “We Can’t Last,” provide contrasting tones for Colohan’s simple folk melodies and allow these songs to stand out from the standard singer/songwriter, avant-folk flavor-of-the-week. This song in particular seems to be a cousin of Bill Fay’s work on his opus “Time of the Last Persecution,” with its slow, textured guitar solo and percussive piano figures.
Lyrically Colohan pulls a common thread through these tracks, focusing on relationships that have crumbled, unfulfilled love, and loneliness. However, “Last Ride,” the album’s most fully-realized song, diverges from the subject matter of the other tracks. Instead of focusing on individual relationships, here Colohan turns his melancholy gaze toward the forest, and transforms it into microcosm of humanity’s charge against the tide. The song’s lyrics are full of detailed images, beautiful little portraits of life trembling against death. The instrumentation is absolutely gorgeous, especially when a lonely flute soars over the guitar line during the chorus. It is the single best thing I’ve heard all year.
The tag “loner folk” has been thrown around when discussing this album and a lot of Colohan’s back catalogue but there doesn’t seem to be very much self-indulgence here, even though many of the tracks are deeply personal. Instead Colohan seems to have a preternatural sense of the elemental, those dark places we all go to take off our disguises. So many artists have treaded this ground before and seemed insincere, but Colohan’s vulnerability, his human voice that presents these unadorned truths without spin or motive, makes me want to listen and believe.
- Jamie Townsend, foxy digitalis
The Days And Hills Grown Old is the latest Agitated Radio Pilot album. Because the previous album, Your Turn To Go It Alone totally blew me away, I had pretty high expectations of this one. I must say that this album doesn't live up to those expectations entirely, even though it's not bad at all.
The first thing that is remarkable is the atmosphere, which is vastly different from that on Your Turn.... The Days... is much more minimalistic and even more melancholic than the previous album, and there is a more definite ambient touch to the songs. The album starts with the acoustic guitar song "Saints Island", which is very serene and sad, precisely like the misty, sunken meadow on the front cover. After this comes the estranging "How You'll Fall". This song is a duet between man and woman, with a sort of old fashioned, jazzy vocal melody, and a dissonant guitar backing. "Floodplains" is an a capella track, sung with a high, thin female voice. I believe this is the same lady as the one that sings for The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree. In itself, the song is nice and clear, but I absolutely don't like the sound of her voice. This is more a matter of taste, though. "The Liminal Hills" reminds one of the songs on Your Turn... and is the highlight of the album for me. David's unique way of playing guitar and his beautiful voice are combined in a wonderful, melancholic song. Following is the longest track, "And If I Remained By The Outermost Sea". The song has a great, serene start, which is slowly developed with more and more instruments, until finally a rhythm section and voice join in. The percussion makes it sound very ritualistic, and also the voice, which is clearly used as an instrument, contributes to this. It also seems as if the song gets more and more surreal and strange, and because of this it stays interesting for the full 20 minutes. The last song is a great introspective one with acoustic guitar and the same thin voice as on the third song, which spoils it a bit for me.
ThisCompact Dischas some extremely good songs, such as the opening track, "The Liminal Hills" and "And If I Remained...", but the other songs are a bit disappointing to me, because of the female voice which doesn't appeal to me. I also think that the minimalist atmosphere of this album would be better expressed if David had used his beautiful voice a bit more. Nevertheless, this is a well-succeeded CD, especially if you have no problems with thin vocals.
Agitated Radio Pilot has in a few years released more essential, beautiful music than more well known artists produce in a career. His music combines deeply introspective songs with miniature rural instrumentals. Last Year's 'Your Turn To Go It Alone' was almost too sad for words, reaching a place only the likes of Talk Talk have found before. Slow clarinet playing as though every note must be accounted for and stately piano chords open the release which then becomes the sublime song of loss 'Hold Back The Sea'. The quality of this song like many of the artists absolutely stopped me in my tracks. The restrained expression of pain similar to some of David Sylvian' solo music. The release carries on consistently with lyrics that flow by like exquisite but unnoticed poetry. From just his vocals and guitar, we are utterly drawn into his grief, underlined with great impact by soft mournful melodies on surrounding instruments.
'Becky Came By' offers more hope, just her temporary presence giving a reason for living. The contrast is marked, the tumbling, chiming guitars affirming all that is good. The joy does not last though as each song leads us by the hand into his gradual acceptance, until we too are almost in tears and calling his love back. But there is something wonderfully unexpected by this music, it's deep sense of regret and loss is not depressing, if anything we are instead uplifted. He is not setting out to make bleak music, but to find his way through and in doing so, we likewise find ourselves still standing at the end, blinking into the sunlight at the possibility of trying one more day.
There is a secondCompact Discwith this release that contains two extended pieces. 'We Can't Last' starts as a contemplative instrumental but becomes a resigned song that builds through a lead trumpet to express the artists' feelings of injustice at the split he knows is coming. The 'Barren Ground Assembly' feels like the ancient spirits of Ireland given voice. Slow electronic chords emerge with endless electric guitar and clarinet at the fore evoking the land changing over eons not years.
Mark COyle [url=http://www.harvest-home.org/article_read.asp?id=35Harvest Home[/url]