In an initial attempt to extend my Irish language exposure beyond lecture halls and contributing articles ‘anois agus arís’, I found myself on the Irish language website nós.ie. Nós.ie is an online lifestyle and cultural magazine. It is characterised by its innovative approach to journalism through Irish and its crisp content. The evening’s revelation was not the Irish media platform however, but a band by the name of IMLÉ.
IMLÉ are an eclectic group of musicians whose sound is ‘based around vocalists with very diverse musical backgrounds’, according to their Facebook bio. The diverse expression of a multitude of genres is evident as the band skips from one track to the next. Listening to the album and trying to identify what Spotify category IMLÉ would fall into was a challenge. My ear picked up traces of folk, rap, hip-hop, blues, some classical influences and as one would expect; some trad. Songlines Magazine liken the band to ‘the lovechild of Kila and Massive Attack’. IMLÉ have certainly taken a stance against the ‘stigma’ of Irish language music and produced a sound comparable to the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Bears Den, or Slow Club.
Ceap do Shuaimhneas combines a sense of trad with an intro on what seems to be a concertina. A mellow, recurring contrapuntal bass gives a folky tone to the song. The song is one for the easy listening Sunday playlist, reminding us to take it easy and let go of the heaviness in life. Another immediate favourite of mine was Pádraig, kicking off with an unusual spoken preface. This style of introduction continues for half a minute into the song and with a mention of Ospidéal Beaumount, it’s clear there is a significance to these artistic choices and the possible connotation with the mention of Beaumount. Despite the initial tone of unease, I soon feel as though I’m listening to a collaboration with Noah and the Whale. There is buoyancy to the melody line and the casual integration of English sentences lends a light-hearted quality to the music.
IMLÉ’s self-titled debut album is a breath of fresh air to the Irish music scene. Its vibrant and spirited sound, with fast spitting lyrics crisply cut the ear, an effect I believe is afforded by the adoption of the Irish language.
The album has been released on vinyl by Gael Linn and is the first of its kind to be released by the label in the last 30 years. A year after the release of their debut single and two years after the establishment of the musical talent, the launch of IMLÉ’s vinyl record, took place on Thursday 23rd November at An Siopa Leabhar on Harcourt Street. Check out the band’s facebook page for details on the launch. IMLÉ is also available on Spotify and iTunes where you can admire the striking album artwork.
Well worth a listen.