Review | Songlines

Just Be

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details




The Art of Collaboration


Novel attempts to fuse the traditional musics of Ireland and Iran were beginning to make themselves felt on the edges of Dublin’s more adventurously minded music circuit in the months leading up to the COVID-enforced lockdown. Thanks, largely, to Tulca, who emerged from the city’s multi-discipline Art of Collaboration collective. This compact debut salvages some of those interrupted cross-fertilising experiments in what is described as ‘a series of musical postcards [with] a strong element of storytelling.

The quintet – Iranian brothers Shahab Coohe (santoor) and Shayan Coohe (tar, tombak), and Irish natives Ultan O’Brien (fiddle, viola), Paul Roe (clarinets) and Mick O’Brien (uilleann pipes, whistle) – take an improvisatory, jazz-inflected approach occasionally laced with accents from contemporary music and the spoken word. A stately, ceremonial introduction subtly blending Celtic and Persian, ‘The Opening’ gives way to a richer exploration of contrasting timbres in ‘Limbo’, Roe’s gravity-free clarinet and O’Brien’s whistle floating over a shifting bedrock of plucked and strummed Persian strings. With psychiatry professor Jim Lucey’s spoken verse, the bravura ‘Mountains of the Mind’ seamlessly collides East and West, ‘Follow Me Down to Limerick’ lacing both together just as dexterously. Glancing hints of delicate Oriental infusions throughout find fullest voice in the ambient evocativeness of the miniature ‘Japanese Garden’.

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