Depressed and anxious following the discharge of her exceptional debut album Land Of No Junction in 2020, Dubliner Aoife Nessa Frances headed west to spend lockdown along with her father and sisters in County Clare. Reinvigorated by the expertise, she’s returned with a darkish, dreamy and defiant second album, Protector. “Music is magic,” she tells Stephen Troussé as she leads Uncut by way of the panorama the report grew out of…within the newest problem of Uncut journal – in UK retailers from Thursday, Sept 15 and that can be purchased from our on-line retailer.
The author and cartographer Tim Robinson described the Burren, the traditional, karst moonscape of northwest County Clare, as one of many Earth’s nice wonders: “100 and fifty sq. miles of paradoxes… [an] austere magnificence, the results of millennia of abuse”.
He was pondering of elemental abuse – centuries of acid rain, carving deep grykes within the glacial limestone pavement. He took a dim view of more moderen, human actions, describing the quarries carved throughout his beloved Connemara as “festering sores”.
What would he have made from the eerie Clare edgelands, the place we picnic one superb July afternoon with the singer, songwriter and surrealist Aoife Nessa Frances? Aoife’s led us right here, to one of many locations the place she discovered peace, was capable of recalibrate and refocus, in the course of the lengthy lockdown of 2020. She is aware of the paths and steps absolutely over electrical fences, by way of dense thickets, previous the pack of proudly feral, vastly horned goats that roam the rocks.
We stumble alongside behind, emerge right into a clearing and out of the blue encounter our vacation spot: a 200-foot deep deserted quarry, gouged out of the limestone in a elegant and probably unlawful act of ecological vandalism. Pooled on the backside, water of unfathomable, good blue.
The house owners are lengthy gone and the quiet, forsaken panorama is strewn with fallen pylons that after carried energy traces. A crimson fox darts by way of the lengthy grass. A hawk glides by lazily, coasting on a thermal.
On a deceptively heat afternoon, as we chat, munch Hula Hoops and get slowly sunburnt, the quarry beneath us could possibly be some remoted Cairngorms gorge or an occult earthwork. It looks like an image postcard distillation of that beloved lockdown meme: nature is therapeutic.
Aoife is fast to affirm that Protector may be very a lot not a “pastoral nature report”. “Location and setting are necessary to the report,” she explains. “However there’s a rigidity there – between the busy-ness of Dublin and the peace of Clare, but in addition between desirous to float away and wanting to claim your self. That rigidity is essential to the report.”
However when you have been to search for an goal correlative, a residing, vivid embodiment of the uncanny depths, wild airs and therapeutic drift of Protector, Aoife’s defiant second album, you would do worse than beginning with the unusual, unnatural fantastic thing about this quarry.
For greater than 200 years, artists have headed to the west of Eire in the hunt for poetry, folklore and magic. Aoife got here right here virtually accidentally.
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