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I Have A Tribe Beneath a Yellow Moon (Grönland)

Oct. 25, 2016
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Although we can fetishize old technology when it threatens to be supplanted by the new, we’re not entirely wrong to defend the former. For example, a paperback book might not have as much memory as an e-reader, but it doesn’t need batteries.

We can also fetishize the imperfect in art, particularly in music. Patrick O’Laoghaire certainly does on Beneath a Yellow Moon, his first long-player as I Have a Tribe: the squeak of a floorboard or the inadvertently bent last note of a bass coda becomes as much a part of a song as any of the intentional guitar and piano sounds.

As contrast to the digital perfection of modern pop, which sometimes treats the human presence with disinterest, O’Laoghaire’s approach—highlighting both the old and the imperfect—is not unwelcome.

It is true that his earnest artistry, with derivations from the demotic basics of folk music and the baroque aspects of parlor music, is not especially original. His voice, in particular, could easily be compared to those of Cat Stevens (in a less strident mood), Conor Oberst (with the yelps somewhat contained) and Jeff Buckley (minus the soaring range).

It is also true that O’Laoghaire and his producer, Paul Savage, often show restraint without showing off said restraint. The finale, “Cuckoo,” embodies this by not building up to the grandeur hinted at by its seven-minute length: it never becomes epic.

We might not notice that absence, or the way instruments seem to spread apart and wave at each other in “La Neige” and then almost pile atop each other in “Battle Hardened Pacifist,” or the bruised echoes of the Apartments, an Australian collective that has mastered pop-folk desolation.

However, we almost certainly notice that I Have a Tribe defends accidents and impulses along with the old and the imperfect. Most of all, I Have a Tribe defends openheartedness, a defiantly human trait.

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