“Groundbreaking”
Neil McFadyen -
Folk Radio UK  

“An extraordinary meeting of wordcraft and music rhythms”
Ellen Cranitch - Grace Notes, Lyric FM

“Pioneering”
Domhnaill Mac Ruaraí;
Raidió na Gaeltachta

“different. It's hypnotic, educational, and compelling”
Eileen McCabe -
Irish Music magazine

“Stunning… Transcends boundaries”
Bernard Clarke - Nova, RTÉ Lyric FM

 

'Preab Meadar' is absolutely captivating" -Bruce Cameron Come all Ye; NSW, Australia

 

"Just had a first listen to a stunning new CD by Daire Bracken and Lorcan Mac Mathuna." Dai Jeffries

 

"thank you for the amazing music" - Pete Mullineaux, (Poet and author); Galway

 

"Wonderful" - Mairead Nic Illinnein; BBC Radio nan Gaidheal

 

"Fantastic gig tonight" -Laura O Gorman; dublin

 

"WOW powerful stuff" -Casey Mulligan; Collarado

 

"Just splendid" - Gilbert DeCock; Belgium

 

"Superb" - Jon Saunders; Spain

 

"beautiful Thank you for getting this out there" - Christy Croft; UK

 

Preab Meadar radio quotes

 

Ellen Cranitch - Grace Notes, RTE Lyric FM
-Dec 4th 2014
.

"That was Séadnadh Mór from an extraordinary album just released called preab meadar. A collaboration between Daire Bracken on fiddle and Lorcán Mac Mathúna on words.

Its an extraordinary meeting of wordcraft and music rhythms. The title roughly translates as dance meter. What they've done is they have taken some original lyrics and some ancient lyrics and weaved them into very complex rhythmic structures using just the voice and fiddle. All the sounds that you heard are created on the fiddle whether its a conventional bow on the string or a little left of field way of playing the fiddle. Now here's another one, a track called Amergin"

"A kind of ghostly ethereal textures woven by Daire Bracken and Lorcan Mac Mathuna  there from their new album preab meadar. Just fiddle and voice doing all kinds of strange and weird and wonderful things. That was Amergin.

 

 

Domhnaill Mac Ruaraí - Cóisir Cheoil, Raidíó na Gaeltachta
-Dec 6th 2014
.

"Cionnródach. Cuirthe i gcion a chéile go húr agus go cionrádach.

Pacáiste álainn, cuirthe le chéile go slachtmhar. Ní fhaca mé pacáiste comh deas seo le fada an lá. Ceol ag teacht ó na fréamhacha ach na gasanna ag síneadh amach ar dóigheannaí éagsúil. Rachfá féin suí síos agus éisteacht leis agus b'fhiú sin a dhéanamh . Is ceart iad"

 

 

Bernard Clarke - Nova, RTÉ Lyric FM
-Dec 7th 2014
.

“We open tonight with a new and stunning album from Daire Bracken and Lorcan Mac Mathuna. This is Séadnadh Mór"

“How’s that for high? Seadnadh mor from the preab meadar album by Lorcán Mac Mathúna and Daire Bracken on fiddles. Stunning and incredible!"

"Played it for a few people here in Lyric and we are all taken aback by this. I mean Ellen Crannitch, my good friend and colleague, will get as much out of this on Grace notes as I will on Nova. An album that transcends boundaries. I urge you to check out this new album Preab Meadar by Lorcán Mac Mathúna on vocals and Daire Bracken on fiddles. They are exploring medieval Irish poetry and letting it generate the music."

 

 

Áine Hensey - An Gealach Ghorm, RTÉ Raidíó na Gaeltachta
-Jan 3rd 2015
.

"Sin tús thar a bheith suimiúil leis a gclár anocht. Bhí sibh ag éisteacht ansin le traic ón albam Preab Meadar le Daire Bracken agus Lorcán mac Mathúna.

"Albam díreach eisithe le cupla seachtain anuas agus fíor, fíor, shuimiúil an méid atá déanta ag an mbeirt acú le chéile ansin le sean scéalta, sean dánta cuirthe le ceol, agus píosaí nuachumtha mar an píosa sin bunaithe ar scéál an tiarna Franklin a dimigh ar thuras I lár an 19ú aois agus nár tháinig ar ais riamh ar ndóidh. Sin an dara píósa, tá dhá píosa cuirthe le chéile ag l agus ag d faoin eachtra áraithe sin
Beidh muid ag filleadh ar sin. Is breá liom é caithfidh mé a rá. Tá sé iontach ar fad, an samhlaíocht atá ag baint leis an méid atá déanta le Lorcán agus ag Daire leis an albam sin Preab Meadar"

 

 

printed reviews Preab Meadar

 

Folkworld
Michael Moll, Spring 2015

Irish fiddler Daire Bracken (founding member of Danu) and Gaelic singer Lorcan Mac Mathuna have created with "Preab meadar" a unique album. The music is something very archaic and sparse, yet at the same time ultra modern.

The duo play with musical metres and styles from the Gaelic language, going back in one track to possibly the earliest piece of poetry, from some 3,000 years ago. These old songs are combined on the album with songs composed by the two musicians, inspired by the ancient material. The album only features voice and fiddle playing - and the fiddle playing is very interesting and full of experimentation. It may be as an album a bit too intense to listen to regularly (and I find the out-of-tune whistling in one song irritating), but it is nevertheless quite a masterpiece - intriguing and fascinating. 

 

 

Irish Music Magazine
Eileen McCabe,
June 2015

DAIRE BRACKEN & LORCÁN MAC MATHÚNA
Preab Meadar
Own Label DBLM01, 13 Tracks, 43 Minutes


Preab Meadar was never going to be your idea of a typical traditional album. That could be surmised just upon reading the title which is also the derivative source of the descriptive theme of the thirteen tracks within. Preab Meadar is essentially dance metre and Bracken and Mac Mathúna have taken the core of these terms and opened the chasm of exploration through historical interpretation and performance creativity with the utilisation of fiddle and voice.

The synthesis of rhythmic instrumental beats with inflected vocal patterns is one that has its origins in the poetry of the medieval period where the syllabic poetry and structured metre patterns were a part of the early medieval Celtic literature. The pair has taken this concept and re–invigorated it with a modern style of Celtic Influence yet stayed true to the structure of accent and the harmonic inflections that are contrived through the relationship with the voice and the fiddle. This is illustrated impeccably in the opening track, Séadnadh Mór, where the 8 and 7 syllable pattern showcases The Lion and the Fox derived from 1588 and telling of the praise of the Breifne chieftain, Brian Maguire as it portrays a picture of the period in the build up to the nine year war of the time. The rigid structure is followed strictly and strangely pulls you into its sway as the defined beats reach a crescendo of sound.

Preab Meadar is different. It’s hypnotic, educational and compelling. It has a depth and intensity that needs an attentive and respectful ear. Each track tells its own story and is mostly connected to strands of the Celtic past of which the lads have stayed true to the core of yet have brought it into the relevancy of today’s musical soundscape with a respect and insight worthy of the trail of culture it weaves. Fully recommend you read the sleeve notes before each track to gain a deeper insight into the context of rhythm and productive arrangement. It’s an absorbing learning experience.

 

Folk Radio UK
Neil McFadyen,
Nov 10 2014

Four years in the making, and the source material dates back millennia.

To create Preabmeadar, Daire Ó Breacáin and Lorcán Mac Mathúna have combined the two greatest instruments of Irish music, the fiddle and the human voice. But the two have never quite been combined in this way before.

In the Irish oral tradition, poetry based on a strict syllabic structure, with complex patterns of rhyme and alliteration, was developed by the early bards. The technique ensured their work could be passed on word for word and lose none of its original impact. Through generations, the hereditary bards performed the roles of chroniclers, satirists and genealogists for those in power. Their work could enthral, terrify and delight. Their legacy provides us with an insight into the society of pre-Christian Ireland that culminated in 500 years of the richest vein of historic Irish literature, the Dán Díreach.

Fiddler, composer, songwriter, teacher Daire Ó Breracáin is a founding member of Slide & Danú. Growing up in Dublin, he soaked up the influences of some of the country’s most accomplished traditional musicians. His eclectic and exuberant fiddle style has resulted in a wealth of collaborative work in several musical disciplines, and he’s performed with a wide range of artists including Stockton’s Wing, Salsa Celtica, the Black Family and Niamh Parsons.

Lorcán Mac Mathúna’s work is well known to Folk Radio UK visitors. His ground-breaking projects Dubh Agus Geal (Northern Lights) and An Táin (Deep End Of The Ford) have brought ancient voices to a modern audience; with his mix of contemporary influences and mastery of the traditional sean-nós approach to singing. As part of the Fleadh Cheoil 2013, and the Derry City of Culture celebrations, Lorcán composed  Derry to the Sea – a specially commissioned song cycle which celebrates the Foyle and the history of Derry from its founding to the present day.

In Preabmeadar, Daire and Lorcán have utilised the ancient, complex patterns of bardic poetry as a basis for contemporary dance music and song. In October, they provided us with a glimpse of what Preab Meadar holds in store on Folk Radio UK, with a preview of  The Lion and Fox (Séadnadh Mór). At last the album is complete and the fruits of their labour are ready for us to enjoy.

The Lion And Fox (Séadnadh Mór) provides an opening of ghostly whispers and an urgent fiddle paints pictures of deception. Tadgh Dall Ó Huiggín’s 16th century poem uses the device of an old fable to comment on the treacherous political landscape leading up to the nine-years’ war, two decades before the collapse of the world of the Gaelic chieftains.

Intensity rises throughout and the listener is carried away on the dizzying combination of Daire’s fiddle and Lorcán’s intricately layered vocals.

In the earliest works that have inspired much of this album, medieval scribes would scribble fragments of ancient poems in  margins of illuminated texts they were laboriously producing. In Rannaighneacht Ghairid this compelling glimpse of ancient poetry, its structures and its adherents has fuelled the imagination of Lorcán & Daire, putting to their own music the ‘Dramatis Personae’ of the unknown author.

An opening of tumbling chants amid percussive fiddle leads to a stirring rendition of the venerable lines. The complexity of the stratified fiddle parts quickly takes on hypnotic qualities, perhaps reflecting on wandering consciousness of the scribes.

To restrict the complexities of these hereditary forms to the words they originally conveyed would do them a disservice. Daire and Lorcán are eminently capable of bringing their contemporary skills to the table. Over ten years ago Daire wrote Sé Dúirt Sé, the song that first sparked his interest in the complex medieval Irish poetry of the Dán Díreach. A hauntingly gentle vocal performance is accompanied by layers of pizzicato and bowed strings. The effect is a meandering ramble that belies the intricate structure from which it draws its inspiration.

Captain Rock is Typical of Lorcán Mac Mathúna’s dramatic, storytelling in song. Social unrest was heading rapidly towards full scale rebellion in Ireland between 1819 and 1922. Captain Rock was the name given to the leaders of the rebellious tenant farmers. As well as giving us non-Gaelic speakers something to get our teeth into, with rising intensity throughout and the powerful imagery of Lorcán’s lyrics this is modern story telling at its soul-stirring best.

Famine stalks the winter fields, and frost grows thick on the hearth each night

In contrast, Cladach An Bháis showcases Lorcán’s equal skill in creating, and delivering a lament. Telling, and commenting on, a story in two parts. In this and the more fiery and invocative Farraigí An Tuaiscirt, Lorcan’s words capture Franklin’s lost expedition of 1845, and highlight how the hardship endured by its members captured the imagination, and the hearts, of English society; while the horror of the famine in Ireland barely registered interest. Daire creates a strident and powerful fiddle among the sadness of the first and sets the flame to Farraigí An Tuaiscirt.

In the early 19th Century, Irish gangs known as factions, fuelled by class divisions as much as a love of fighting, would exalt in violent conflict wherever they could find it. Tomás Rua Ó Súilleabháin’s poem from the early 19th Century, Do Shaoileas Nár Bhaoil Dom, tells the tale of when he was set upon by a faction. Lorcán’s vocal is the epitome of the Sean-nós tradition, while Daire’s exhilarating fiddle paints a vivid scene of mayhem.

Dance is just as important an aspect of these illustrious traditions, and inDeachnadh Bheag Daire & Lorcán explore the intricacies of a forerunner to the Dán Díreach metres in a light-stepping dance and a bewilderingly elaborate vocal, taken from an 11th century poem, Samhradh (Summer).

A blend of Ireland and Scandinavia is never far away when Lorcán gets to work. In the beautifully lilting Aoibhinn, his lyrics are set to a blend of the traditional tunes: Fead An Iolar (The Eagle’s Whistle) and Fine. It’s fitting that an album of such academic complexity should also include something that celebrates joy for its own sake. This perfectly complements Daire Ó Breacáin’s instrumental Teacht Slán As Anfa – lively, invigorating and brim-full of Nordic charm.

Said to date back almost three thousand years the mystical poem (The Incantation of ) Amergin, uttered by the legendary bard, tells the story of the first invasion of Ireland by the Millesians. Lorcán delivers an ethereal rendition of the poem in spoken English and sung Gaelic, amid intense atmospheres; invoking the power of the ancient poet-sorcerer and the wonder of his kinsmen. The effect is spell-binding.

The album’s credits close with thanks to ‘Amergin for inventing poetry’.

A further contrast between the ancient and modern is offered in Tempest (Deibhide). Although attributed to a 7th century poet named Rumann, this invocation of a stormy seascape dates from the 11th century but adopts a modern approach that somehow still manages to hark back to ancient times. Fiddle and bass are on a late pass from a jazz club amid chanting that seems to reference Nordic throat singing as much as it does Gaelic mouth music. As with Amergin, Daire and Lorcán combine these disparate flavours to mesmerising effect.

The 14th century poem Snéadbhairdne is set to a whirlwind fiddle from Daire, closing the album with a fiery, dancing flourish.

I’ve been listening to this album for a week and have barely scratched the surface.  It’s so easy to become completely engrossed in the unique, ethereal beauty of the music itself, but there’s so much more in this recording to explore, to revel in, to wonder at. There are extensive sleeve notes for those who’d like to know more about the influence those ancient poetic metres have brought to bear on the work. And more still, on the archaic stories retold in this captivating modern setting. Preab Meadar is far more than a recording; it’s a contemporary window on the work of the earliest bards, on the origins of poetry itself.  Preab Meadar is also further reaching than academic study – it reaches into the ancient, inherited consciousness of the listener, it brings the voices of the past to the modern ear.

Daire & Lorcan’s understanding of their art has resulted in a highly enlightening piece of work. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

 

The Living Tradition
John Waltham,
Jan 2015

This is a remarkable recording – in many ways unclassifiable, and certainly not “traditional” in the accepted sense. And yet much of it is rooted further back in the Irish tradition than most of us are used to looking, while creating a musical genre that sounds entirely new. The result combines both old and new ideas in a way that, by and large, works incredibly well. The secret lies, I think, in the analytical, almost forensic approach that they’ve taken towards their researches into musical, poetic and vocal history, combined with the undoubted and well-known abilities of Daire’s fiddle playing and Lorcán’s superb singing. The result is often haunting and evocative, and always stimulating.

It’s highly advisable to read the sleeve notes before listening in order to appreciate this album properly. That way, the amazing time signatures used in some of the pieces come as less of a surprise, and one’s able to see the connection with different poetic and vocal meters from the past, now transposed into the present by Daire’s often astoundingly versatile fiddle technique and the broad range and maturity of Lorcán’s vocal interpretations. Their material, inspired by so many bardic influences from over 2000 years of Irish poetry and music,  is mainly penned by the two of them, although in some cases they use their own arrangements of traditional airs and words.

Lorcán is well known for his enquiries into many aspects of singing and its background, so this collaboration with the equally able and inventive Daire was always likely to produce sparks of brilliance, and they’re not lacking – highlights for me included the haunting, powerful Cladach an Bháis, inspired by the Franklin expedition, and their interpretation of the incantation of the legendary bard Amergin. I also enjoyed the English language Captain Rock, which had echoes for me of a song from my own area’s Tolpuddle Man of some years ago, and gave me a chance to hear Lorcán singing in my language! The final track, Snéadhbhairdne, provides the best illustration on the CD of the close relationship that can occur between the cadence of the spoken word and that of music.

It’s really difficult to nail down and define this sort of recording, although I hope by now you’ll have picked up a flavour of it. The pace is varied and often unusual and ultimately I found the best thing to do was to just stop analysing, sit back and enjoy the ride. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you do the same.

 

Spiral earth
Simon Jones,
April 27 2015

Somewhat different… I was expecting samples and loops, replays and all kinds of high tech gadgetry when I read the publicity but what emerges is distinct even individual.

Based on ages old Irish poetry which has buried within it rhythmic possibilities and hints at melody, then translate those intentions onto fiddle and voice, you get Preab Meadar. A mere four years in development, Bracken and Mac Mathuna are dogged in their quest for giving texts from the dark ages a contemporary voice. This is no way an instant hit, more a fascinating web which pulls you along, it bears patience and repeated plays as vocal and violin are the bare bones, it can be stark but once you begin to take on their mind set, these ancient texts and contemporary writes in style get to work on your critical abilities.

If nothing else it’s a bold experiment dipping into Irish history to explore both light and shade as well as some darker degrees, Cladach an Bhais delves into the more gothic aspects of the Franklin expedition which has been romanticised to such a depth by folk song, this is at least another view. There’s an air of academia through-out which can be a little distracting, all the notes you need are in the CD booklet and I confess I got lost in some of the explanations. Nor am I sure who this is specifically aimed at though it’s a fascinating item and if you’re at all into Irish traditions it’ll be a source of endless wonder.

Just don’t go seeking anything remotely predictable, innovation takes many forms. 

 

 

R2 | * * * *
Dai Jeffries,
issue 50

In recent years Lorcán Mac Mathúna has explored links between the Vikings and the Irish and presented a setting of The Tain with his band, Deep End Of The Ford. Preab Meadar is just as imaginative but rather different.

The title translates as “dance metre” and the record is based around the idea of translating the strict rhythms of old Irish poetry – and we’re going back as far the eighth century – into musical forms. The album is deceptively simple; one voice, one fiddler and lots of multi-tracking. The opening track for example, ‘Séadnadh Mór’, uses the words of ‘The Lion And Fox’ which adheres rigidly to an eight and seven syllable form. This may sound rather academic and it can be if you wish – there are lots of notes to explain what’s going on. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Both performers have written songs in the set, including two about the ill-fated Franklin expedition and one, surprisingly in English, about ‘Captain Rock’, the Irish Rebecca, set in the early 1900s.

If you don’t speak old Irish, and few of us do, don’t worry. Just close your eyes and let the sounds wash over you. It works just as well.