Ceol (Music)

Germany’s Ultra Left – Getting It Wrong Again

During a Far Right gathering British and German Neo-Nazis show their support for the UDA-UFF, the largest British state-sponsored terrorist group in Ireland, 2009

During a Far Right gathering British and German Neo-Nazis show their support for the UDA-UFF, the largest British state-sponsored terrorist group in Ireland, 2009

An update for you on the controversy surrounding the banning of the bilingual Scottish punk band Oi Polloi from a music festival in eastern Germany organised by a Left-Wing socio-cultural collective. The reason for the ban? Because Oi Polloi performs songs with lyrics in Scottish Gaelic as well as English and for some on the Ultra Left of European politics minority languages and cultures impede the development of a borderless, homogenised Europe (which is at least consistent with modern German history). A report from Britain’s Left-leaning Morning Star newspaper:

“A German social centre has come under a barrage of criticism for barring a band from playing because of its advocacy of oppressed languages.

Edinburgh-based punk band Oi Polloi had been due to play at the Strausberg Horte in eastern Germany on March 1 but were told last week that their gig was cancelled because some of their songs are in Gaelic.

The self-organising social centre’s “ruling gathering” finally responded on Tuesday accusing the band of “backward” political demands that meant they shouldn’t be allowed on stage.

And the Horte’s “clarification” caused a further storm, saying that the only people who support indigenous language rights in Germany were “the guys and gals of the NPD” – a neonazi party linked with violent racist attacks.”

The full statement from the supposedly anti-fascist youth centre in Strausberg plumbs the depths of ideological myopia, expressing the sort of intolerance for diversity and pluralism that one would normally associate with the Far Right:

“In einer einstündigen Debatte haben die etwa 20 Anwesenden festgestellt, das ein Teil der Mitglieder die kulturpolitischen Forderungen von “Oi Polloi” für rückschrittlich hält und ein Auftritt in unserem Haus nicht gewünscht ist.

Warum rückschrittlich?

Oi Polloi” fordert die “unterdrückten Völker”oder “indigene Gemeinschaften” auf, sich gemeinsam gegen den Kulturimperialismus zu erheben. So soll “Unterschiedlichkeit” verteidigt werden, um in Gemeinschaft und Volk einer besseren Welt entgegen zu sehen. Das “Ursprüngliche” soll gerettet, die indigene Sprache geschützt werden. So positiv auf Volk und Gemeinschaft beziehen sich bei uns eher die Jungs und Mädchens der NPD. An dem “Europa der Vaterländer” wollten wir eigentlich nicht mitmachen. Genauso wenig wie an einem “Europa des Kapitals” (Anmerkung für die Schwarz-Weiß-Fraktion).

[Translation from Sozialen Zentrum - Horte]

About 20 attendees debated for about an hour. In that process we realized that a part of us consider some of Oi Polloi’s cultural [and] political demands as backward. And therefore do not wish an appearance of the band on our stage.

Why backward?

Oi Polloi demands that oppressed nations or indigenous collectives arise together against cultural imperialism. This way they want to defend diversity in order to look collectively and folkish towards a better world. The primordial/original should be rescued, the indigenous languages saved. In our world only the guys and gals of the [Neo-Nazi] NPD refer positively like this to folk and collectives. We don´t want to participate in a “Europe of the Fatherlands” and in a “Europe of Capitals” neither (as a note for the Black-White-Fraction).”

Meanwhile another community group, this time in Ireland, finds itself under threat from right-wing British terrorists as the Skainos Centre in Belfast is subject to a campaign of intimidation from known associates of the extremist UVF. The centre is of course the home to a highly successful Irish language education project which has emerged from within the Protestant and Unionist community. One wonder what the activists at the Horte would make of finding common cause with terror factions on the western edge of Europe, factions who embody the sectarian and racist values of colonial-era Europe?

About these ads

Celtic Europe, Battling Bigotry From Left And Right

Oi Polloi

Oi Polloi

There is an influential theory held by an extremist minority on the Far Left of European politics which opposes a plurality of languages and cultures in Europe because it impedes (as they would claim) the development of a common group identity amongst the working classes on the continent, an identity that that would transcend historic national boundaries and borders. In this view anything that smacks of “ethnicity“, however benign or open, is a barrier to the establishment of a unified and cosmopolitan proletariat. In times past the German language was seen as the natural mechanism by which this could be achieved, the logical outgrowth of the nation’s industrial dominance and growing left-wing radicalism in the 19th century. After WWI and the establishment of the USSR the Russian language came to dominate, albeit with a degree of chauvinism perhaps not so readily apparent in its Teutonic predecessor. Now the English language is regarded as the new lexicon of the desired socialist utopia (though ironically anglophone supremacism finds just as welcome a home amongst ideologues on the Far Right in Britain, the United States and elsewhere).

One bizarre aspect of this dogmatic myopia in the heart of Mittleeuropa is the so-called Antideutsch or anti-German movement, a myriad outgrowth of the labyrinthine Marxist-Leninist politics of Germany and Austria. It shares the tenets of some on the Far Left in its suspicion of minority languages and cultures, particularly those that are believed to run counter to majority languages and their homogenising role in world society. This perhaps explains the decision by the organisers of a politically-orientated music festival in eastern Germany to ban the attendance of Oi Polloi, a well-known anarchist-punk group from Scotland that produces songs in the Scottish Gaelic and English languages. It was the former tongue that apparently spurred the decision to prevent their performance. Now we have an update from Oi Polloi on the controversy:

“”Banned for singing in Gaelic” UPDATE: Today we heard that the German “Kulturzentrum” that “banned” our March 1st concert there because we sing in Gaelic is standing by its refusal to let us play but still without a public explanation for this frankly sickening discrimination against minority language speakers. As an internationalist band who campaign in support of diversity, multiculturalism and the linguistic human rights of minority language speakers, we are determined not to let such bigotry and discrimination go unchallenged. As such we repeat our call for a boycott of the so-called “Kulturzentrum” Horte in Strausberg and would encourage others who disagree with the banning of artists on cultural/linguistic grounds to contact the venue via the e-mail address on the link below to let them know your views. There can be no place for racism or discrimination in the alternative/punk scene and we and other speakers of threatened minority indigenous languages will NOT be silenced.

We also hope to have good news very soon about an alternative concert for March 1st in a venue where speakers of all languages are welcome in an atmosphere free of prejudice or bigotry. GEGEN ALLE DISKRIMINIERUNG! “KULTURZENTRUM” HORTE BOYKOTTIEREN!”

Incredibly such prejudices can also be found amongst Far Left activists here in Ireland some of whom regard the Irish language, the indigenous language of this island nation, as an impediment to the development of a “pan-European class consciousness”. Indeed in the past I have heard a member of the Socialist Party argue vociferously that Irish-speakers through their “wilful rejection” of the English language are “reactionaries” and “tribalists”. Similar arcane views are to be found amongst some in the SWP-PBP grouping, as reflected in the complete indifference of elected TD Richard Boyd Barrett to Irish language rights when quizzed on RTÉ some years ago. Even in Scotland that migratory demagogue of the wayward left, George Galloway, has taken in recent times to attacking Scottish-speakers with the charge of “Obscurantism”.

George Chittick displaying the best of British and anglophone culture in Ireland. Lord be praised!

George Chittick displaying the best of British and anglophone culture in Ireland. Lord be praised!

However, as I pointed out above, such poisonous views are just as virulent on Europe’s Far Right and that is reflected in this story from the Irish Independent newspaper:

“A senior member of the Orange Order who claimed the Irish language was used by republicans for political purposes has been criticised.

An Irish language development officer in east Belfast said many people were upset by the remarks of George Chittick, the order’s Belfast County Grand Master.

Linda Ervine said: “I know a lot of people who have been angered and offended.”

Mr Chittick told a loyalist rally in north Belfast yesterday: “A word of warning to Protestants who go to learn Irish… it’s part of the republican agenda.”

He later said his remarks were aimed at those seeking funding for Irish language projects rather than financial aid for projects which would generate jobs.

Ms Ervine, a development officer at an Irish language centre in east Belfast and who is married to Brian Ervine, a former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, said she was surprised by what Mr Chittick said.”

Ironically as a member of a fundamentalist Protestant and British nationalist organisation that promotes anti-Catholicism in the north-east of Ireland George Chittick might find some common ground with religiously-minded folk elsewhere in the country, albeit from a Roman Catholic background. Some lines from an article in the local Limerick Leader:

“Now if I may be allowed to make an even more irreligious proposal to that propounded by the Minister, let me suggest that if primary schoolteachers find that they haven’t enough hours in the day for extra classes in numeracy and literacy, maybe they should consider taking a few minutes from the four hours a week spent teaching the Irish language, which does little for our literacy or numeracy problems, and, as far as I’m concerned, nothing at all to enhance our chances of getting into Heaven. You won’t find Ruairi Quinn making a suggestion like that for fear he’d really be burned at the stake of nationalistic fervour.

On the other hand, if the Department of Education really wants to improve the literacy and literary skills of primary schoolchildren, I can’t think of a better way of doing it than by encouraging them to read the Bible.”

Even those who claim to be the greatest advocates of equality and pluralism in Western society cannot but help reveal themselves to be Anglophone illiberals in faux liberal dress once the issue of Ireland’s indigenous language is raised. For how else would you describe the views expressed in the otherwise oh-so correct publication “Other People’s Diasporas: Negotiating Race in Contemporary Irish and Irish-American Cultureas highlighted in it’s Irish Times review:

“…Moynihan questions in another chapter why Des Bishop’s embrace of the Irish language does not highlight the “historical baggage – of nationalism and separatism some would say borders on xenophobia – it brings with it”, but there is no reason why Irish speakers should be any more xenophobic than speakers of other languages.”

Unless of course the observer is a partisan for English. For only in Ireland (or Scotland and Wales) could a colonised people attempting to undue centuries of linguistic and cultural damage to their identity be presented as xenophobes for not wishing to speak the language of their former colonial masters. Obviously the free marketeer and neo-liberal view of multiculturalism only extends to the “right kinds” of culture. In that the New Left and the New Right find a common voice.

[With thanks to An Lorcánach, Daithí Mac Lochlainn, Club Leabhar NYC, Méabh and others]

German Music Festival Bans Gaelic-Punk Group?

Some surprising news from Scotland’s well-known anarcho-punk band Oi Polloi, a bilingual group who produce songs with both English and Scottish Gaelic lyrics. They have issued a statement on their Facebook Page claiming that the organisers of a music festival in Germany have objected to the band playing Scottish language songs and cancelled their planned gig.

“We’re very sorry to announce that our March 1st gig at the Horte social centre in Strausberg in eastern Germany is now cancelled after we were “banned” when organisers realised that – shock horror – we sometimes sing in Gaelic, one of the UK’s minority Celtic languages. Like many other minority language speakers we’re used to abuse from “Speak English or Die” British Nationalist types at home but it’s especially depressing to come across an attitude of such hostility to multiculturalism and diversity in what we thought would be a progressive social centre. We know that speakers of Sorbisch, the Slavic minority language in parts of eastern Germany, also suffer the same kind of ignorance and hostility from those who want them to all speak Hochdeutsch instead but we had hoped that a place like the Horte centre would be different. Needless to say this will only spur us on to continue to campaign for respect for minority cultures, diversity and linguistic human rights. We’d also call on all politically-aware touring bands to boycott the so-called “Kulturzentrum” Horte – there can be no place for racism or discrimination against minorities in our scene. For diversity, multiculturalism, respect for minorities and a punk scene free of discrimination!”

All very strange and uncharacteristic of most European music festivals I have heard of. I will update when I hear more.

03.02.2014 Updated news here.

[Thanks to Daithí Mac Lochlainn for the links]

Raven, Swordmistress Of Chaos, Chris Achilléos

Raven, Swordmistress Of Chaos by Chris Achilléos 1978

Cover illustration “Raven, Swordmistress Of Chaos” by Chris Achilléos (Íomhá: © 1978 Chris Achilléos)

Chris Achilléos is a Cypriot-born British artist who came to prominence in the 1970s and ‘80s with illustrations for a large number of books and magazines in the Fantasy and Sword ‘n’ Sorcery genres. Instantly recognisable for his exquisitely rendered female figures, invariably beautiful, frequently belligerent, he became widely known amongst fans through several best-selling art-collections that remain popular to the present day. His obvious delight in painting muscular, female warriors who stared defiantly from the covers of countless publications contrasted at the time with the willowy, weak-limbed princesses favoured by many of his contemporaries. Aside from the stunning and much-loved “Elven Warrior”, a 1983 wrap-around jacket for Michael Moorcock’s seminal high fantasy work “Elric at the End of Time”, his most famous artistic production is “Raven, Swordmistress of Chaos” drawn for the cover of a 1978 book of the same name by Richard Kirk (the shared nom de plume of the authors Robert Holdstock and Angus Wells). However in this particular case the fame came incidentally through the Irish-British musician Kate Bush who along with the designer Pamela Keat chose the illustration as a source of inspiration for the costume she wore in the music video of her 1980 hit “Babooshka”.

For a gallery of more magnificent artworks by Chris Achilléos please visit here.

Kate Bush from the music video Babooshka in full Chris Achilléos inspired style

Kate Bush from the music video Babooshka in full Chris Achilléos inspired style (Íomhá: © Kate Bush/Parlophone UK)

Tower Of Strength, The Mission

One of my favourite songs from the early 1990s is The Mission’s “Tower of Strength”, a drum and guitar heavy rock anthem from the British band that showed off Wayne Hussey’s vocal talents at their best. If not entirely typical of the group’s output it was very typical of the effect “dance music” was having on harder-edged fare during the period (compare the 1993 hit “The Witch” by the Cult, where contemporary influences are obvious). Perhaps this is not surprising given that the song was actually a 1994 remix and re-release by Hussey and the musician-producer Youth (Martin Glover) of an eight minute long original from the 1988 album “Children”. As well as the radio edit several lengthy mixes were produced, both authorised and otherwise, most of which were published in the “Tower of Strength, Limited Edition Mixes CD” (1994). One of these was the early “Bombay Mix” by Mark Stent, a variant on the original. The other was the more chilled-out “Zen Acoustic Mix” by Youth which has retained its popularity down through the years. I thought, for the night that’s in it, I’d present both below for those heading out (as in “out out!”) and those like myself staying in.

Enjoy! (And yes, I was/am a Goth – sort of…)

Lashún Gatna “Beautiful Child”

Lashún Gatna or “Beautiful Child”, a song in the traditional Irish Traveller style written and sung by Jack Delaney. The dialect is An tSeiltis or Shelta, a hybrid mix of the Irish and English languages with the former serving as a base for the latter. The translated lyrics are below (with thanks to Jack).

Beautiful Child


I have made my bed in many places,

places here and in England,

The best rest was the side of the river,

but the Guards made me move on.


The life of a Tinker is the best for me,

and like every man I need to eat,

So in towns to people singing for them,

and a couple of things sold – these I have done.


In Dublin town people look on and listen,

to old Tinker songs on roads and streets,

And some make fun and some give money,

to a voice singing resounding strong.


I have not stayed long in one place,

but in Dublin town indeed I have,

Most beautiful though are mountains and rivers,

but there is not work here to feed mouths.


Though a Tinker I am never married have I,

but the family of God I had to go with,

And I am satisfied like a full bottle,

for all the beautiful things that I see.


Some Tinkers think that the Tinkers are dead,

some others say it will never be the same,

But I am saying that everything is alive,

don’t be afraid young lad for no Devil is true.


Like an old man said in a song of goodness,

let your worries go past the side of you,

But don’t go to sleep though there is work to do,

open your eyes and see my beautiful child.


(© Jack Delaney, Ireland, 2013)

June Summer Solstice Session At Séamus Ennis Cultural Centre

Photo of Séamus Ennis

Séamus Ennis

Another quick post, this time on behalf of the Séamus Ennis Cultural Centre which is holding a Summer Solstice Session in June from Friday 21st to Sunday the 23rd as part of the so-called Gathering (I’ll maintain a diplomatic silence on the latter event). The Cultural Centre in An Aill (the Naul, Fingal) is a great venue and well worth visiting. Séamus Ennis was, as is pointed out here, the God of the Píobaí Uilleann.



Some Quick Posts

Scúp - TG4

Scúp – TG4

First up a review in the Irish Times of the new TG4/BBC co-production, the comedy-drama “Scúp”, penned by Irish author and screenwriter Colin Bateman (the man behind the mid-2000s BBC hit “Murphy’s Law”):

“From reporters having to beg for their salaries to the canny deployment of question marks in headlines to see off libel accusations, Scúp, TG4’s new drama about a Belfast Irish-language weekly paper, hits some amusingly accurate notes in its depiction of a local newsroom.

Given most television portrayals of journalists fall several broadsheets-in-a-row wide of the mark, it’s no surprise that Scúp is the creation of a former journalist.”

Second is a heads-up for Sibéal Davitt’s invitation to experience some Trip-nós at the Culture Box in Templebar, on the 14th of March. And if you’re wondering what Trip-nós is:

“Trip-nós – it’s disco but not as you know it. Experience a completely unique dance experiment mixing Ireland’s indigenous ‘sean-nós’ dance with contemporary disco-inspired moves. Trip-nós is a live performance / workshop mixing sean-nós and contemporary dance with electronic music.

How does it work? It’s simple. First the Trip-Nós gang do their thaaang and then participants must choose which style of dance they would like to ‘represent’. They will then learn four steps or more in their preferred style which will be categorised in numbers 1-4. Finally the two groups must battle it out in an 80’s themed dance-off and… hey presto… Trip-Nós is born! Expect some belters including the epic ‘Inspector Norse’ …yeah, you know what I’m talkin’ bout!

There’s only room for 30 people so register here.”

Tayto as Gaeilge - Cáis agus Oinniún

Tayto as Gaeilge – Cáis agus Oinniún

Now there’s a mashup! Talking of which the Oirish Sun, model Roz Lipsett, Tayto and An Ghaeilge:

“Yesterday Tayto crisps launched a limited edition 1980s-inspired pack ‘as Gaeilge’ to promote the language. Model and Gaeilgeoir ROZ LIPSETT, 27, showcased the retro package.

Here she talks about why her native tongue is so important to her.

I ABSOLUTELY love that I can speak Irish, it’s something I’m very proud of and something I’m very privileged to have.

I went to a regular English-speaking primary school but in sixth class my parents sent to me to Colaiste na Rinne in Waterford, which is a strict Irish-only school. At the time I was horrified at having to leave my friends and move from Dublin to Waterford as a boarder.

But now I know my family did me a huge favour and I’m still friends with loads of the guys I met in An Rinn.

Irish was always my best subject in school. My family are all Gaeilgeoirs so they always spoke Irish at home. They are from Mayo and they have a very proud Irish tradition.

By the time I was leaving An Rinn I was fluent. Now, any opportunity I get, I will start waffling on in Irish, it feels very natural to me and I just really enjoy speaking it”

A quick blast from IFTN:

“TG4’s ‘Lorg na gCos: Súil Siar ar Mise Éire’, which concerns the making of Irish masterpiece ‘Mise Éire’ (an examination of Irish society in the years surrounding the 1916 Rising) has been nominated for a Focal award recognising excellence in archive films.

The documentary, which translates as ‘Finding The Footprints – A Look Back At Mise Éire’ has been recognised in the category for ‘Best Use of Footage in an Arts Production’ at the 10th annual Focal International Awards, set to take place in London on 2 May.”

And a view of Irish from the United States.

Ceol Ar An Imeall

Ceol ar an Imeall, TG4’s indie music show, is back tonight at 23.00 on TG4. Lots of Irish bands performing live in studio plus interviews with a host of international acts. A whole gaggle of performances for Ceol ar an Imeall are available to watch for free here. Enjoy!

Follow Ceol ar an Imeall on Facebook or Twitter.

Two Tech Stories For Gaeilgeoirí

Two tech stories for the Irish-speaking community via the Silicon Republic. The first highlights the addition of the TG4 player to the line-up of on-demand television services provided by the major Irish cable and broadband company UPC.

“On-demand TV now comes as Gaeilge, as TG4’s line-up is added to UPC On Demand, which has now seen more than 10m views six months on from its launch.

TG4 Player now joins on-demand content from the RTÉ Player, TV3’s 3Player and 1,400 hours of series box sets available on UPC On Demand.

… the TG4 Player now brings up to 40 Irish-language documentaries, entertainment, music and lifestyle series to the mix, including flagship drama Ros na Rún, Nuacht TG4, and current affairs programme 7Lá.”


“Move over MTV and Vevo… a new Irish-language video app called TG Lurgan has launched to present music videos as Gaeilge. The app has been developed by the makers of the Irish-language social network Abair Leat! which launched earlier this year.

The free app TG Lurgan is now available to download for Android and iOS users from Google Play and the Apple App Store. The app has been developed by the Irish language school Coláiste Lurgan, which is headed up by Michéal Ó Foighil and created Abair Leat!

The new TG Lurgan app features contemporary Irish-language music videos, as well as tutorial videos on learning Irish. It also allows users to create their own playlists.

TG Lurgan is also on the Vimeo platform and recently passed the 1m plays milestone after launching on Vimeo more than two years ago.”

TG Lurgan on Vimeo can be seen here. You can download the app for iPhones from iTunes or from Google Play for Android.

Gráinne Holland – Teanga na nGael

Gráinne Holland – Teanga na nGael – Language of the Gael

In a shameless rip-off of the Cedar Lounge Revolution here is my own “Something For The Weekend“.

Belfast’s Gráinne Holland is one of Ireland’s most talented new musical artists. Her innovative 2011 album Teanga na nGael (“Language of the Gael”) combines traditional Irish music with a European sound that echoes elements of pop, jazz and several other influences. It say’s much for her talent and breadth of artistic vision that even non-Irish speakers have given her work rave reviews, proving yet again that music can be a truly international language.

She typifies in many ways the new generation of Gaeilgeoirí or Irish-speaking citizens in Ireland: self-confident in their language, culture and identity. In Gráinne’s case this has allowed her to take Irish traditional music and craft it into something new that has gained a wide appeal beyond these shores.

Imram 2012, Leonard Cohen And More

Imram 2012 – Féile Litríochta Gaeilge, Túr na nAmhrán, Tionscadal Cohen – Leonard Cohen

Today’s Irish Times has a lengthy examination by Úna Mullally of the Irish arts scene that is well worth reading:

“Imram, the Irish-Language Literature Festival takes place from October 11th to the 20th, and offers a dynamic programme. There are familiar names participating: Louis de Paor, Dairena Ní Chinnéide, Micheál Ó Conghaile. And there are familiar names discussed: Pádraic Ó Conaire and Seán Ó Ríordáin among them. But there is a current of energy flowing through the festival that those used to the traditional narratives of the Irish language in the arts might be surprised by.

There is an indoor and outdoor multimedia installation by Ceaití Ní Bheildiúin; a dance piece called Ré written by Daithí Ó Muirí and choreographed by Fearghus Ó Conchúir; contemporary prose from Éilís Ní Anluain; the Mouth On Fire theatre company reading Beckett’s poetry in Irish; The Cohen Project sees poets Liam Ó Muirthile and Gabriel Rosenstock translate some of Leonard Cohen’s work into Irish, with Liam Ó Maonlaí, David Blake, Hilary Bow and the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra providing the music.

Next week, a two-day symposium is being held in Dublin aiming to “explore, challenge and provoke notions of contemporary arts practice in Irish.” The symposium, titled Fás agus Forbairt’ (Grow and Develop) is hoping to bring together contemporary artists who are currently working in Irish and artists who may speak Irish but whose work is in English.


In music, the Kilas and the Ó Maonlaís were flying the flag for Irish-inflected contemporary music from the 1990s on, and that’s still the case. The annual Seachtain na Gaeilge Ceol compilation CDs feature contemporary Irish artists singing Irish-language versions of their songs. While the overall result might be nice, there’s a sense of tokenism about it, even if, on occasion, these songs are occasionally brought to a live setting.

But things are changing. Temper-Mental MissElayneous, an upcoming Dublin rapper, has a tendency to drop Irish rhymes into her raps accompanied by bodhrán instead of beats, namely with her track Cailín Rua. And Daithí, a Clare fiddle player who has managed to successfully fuse traditional strains with contemporary electronic music, recently sampled the singer Mary O’Hara in one of his tracks, a trick last pulled by Massachusetts band Passion Pit in their break-out single Sleepyhead.

From the Puball Gaeilge tent at Electric Picnic to Manchán Mangan’s theatre work, there is an edge to the Irish language in a contemporary artistic context, and that edge is growing as those in charge of funding continue to quietly seek out more non-traditional targets. But a new generation of artists also need to take the leap. Perhaps next week’s Fás agus Forbairt symposium will put a real structure around such tentative, yet quickening steps.”


Scottish blogger Tocasaid has an excellent article on Scotland’s punk rock scene and the group Dùisg (“Rise, awake”):

“Compared to the Basque Country or even our Celtic cousins in Cymru, Scotland has a paucity of bands composing new material in her own language. Fortunately though, one of them is a well kent face on the international stage.
Dùisg is the second LP by Oi Polloi to be recorded entirely in Scottish/ Gàidhligthough the language has featured in various other recordings over the years, includinga session for the BBC Alba program Rapal. The last one Ar Cànan, Ar Ceòl, Ar-a-mach broke some new ground for Polloi’s mix of Sham 69/ Cockney Rejects type Oi! and Discharge-esque thrash. Added to that was some crunchy Killing Joke, bagpipes and traditional Gaelic song.

Dùisg continues in more or less the same vein but with the addition of keyboards here and there. It’s probably their best yet – lots of catchy tunes, though some of them are delivered at a pretty hectic pace. Some great guitar hooks as well as some dark and brooding grinding hardcore. The Gaelic vocals as per usual are more the bastard son of Tom Waits and Pinhead from Hellraiser than Karen Matheson or Mànran.

Lyrics deal with some of the usual topics but also break new ground. Since when did you hear of a song promoting the use of LINUX? And, in Gaelic punk rock? Other issues dealt with in the Scottish tongue are police brutality (Dìon is Cuidich), increased state surveillance (Ar Dìleab) and the futility of capitalism (Dòigh Eile).”

LINUX! Seriously, who doesn’t love LINUX? Read it all here.

So What’cha What’cha What Ya Want

Genuinely saddened to hear of the passing of Adam “MCA” Yauch, certainly one of the voices of my generation.

From the Guardian:

“Rapper Adam Yauch, a third of the trailblazing hip-hop act the Beastie Boys, has died aged 47.

Yauch, who performed as MCA, had been in treatment for cancer since 2009 after discovering a tumor in his parotid gland.

The band’s management posted a lengthy statement on the Beastie Boys website:

It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam “MCA” Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer.

Initially dismissed as a trio of jokers who scored a fluke novelty hit with Fight for Your Right (To Party) on their 1986 debut License to Ill, the Beastie Boys would grow into one of the most ambitious and influential acts of the 1990s.

The densely layered followup to their jokey and spare debut was 1989’s Paul’s Boutique, a postmodern hip-hop masterpiece that was largely ignored at its release. Today the Dust Brothers-produced record is considered a seminal album that would hint at the genre-bending direction 1990s pop was heading.

Subsequent records Check Your Head and Ill Communication found an instant foothold in the mainstream, however, propelling the band to stratospheric stardom.

Their lyrics were packed with goofy couplets, in-jokes and pop-culture references. And each of the Beasties cultivated distinct personas and vocal deliveries that meshed well together and could stand alone.

Yauch’s voice was mellow, gravelly and gruff – sandpaper and warm beer – allowing him to play both the shady drifter (Paul Revere) and loveable buddy (“My man MCA’s got a beard like a billy goat”).

In addition to his career in music, Yauch was a film-maker and passionate Buddhist and defender of Tibetan rights. Yauch directed many of the band’s music videos under the name Nathanial Hörnblowér, including So What’cha Want, Intergalactic and the more recent Make Some Noise.

Yauch, who is survived by his wife, Dechen Wengdu, and their daughter, Losel, wrote a letter to his bandmates and fans for last month’s hall of fame induction: “I’d like to dedicate this to my brothers Adam and Mike,” he wrote. “They walked the globe with me. It’s also for anyone who has ever been touched by our band. This induction is as much ours as it is yours.””

So here is one of my favourites:

Oireachtas na Samhna

The Irish Times carries a very personal report celebrating the weekend’s Oireachtas na Samhna, the annual Irish language and culture festival, this year held in Cill Airne:

“IT IS the time of Samhain and I am heading south to Killarney. Every year at this time I find myself on the road to somewhere. The reason – Oireachtas na Samhna. It has been going on now for well over a century but, in reality, it has been going on for thousands of years since its original incarnation at Tara. I am part of a tribe, and the tribe is on the move.

Oireachtas na Samhna, or the Oireachtas, as we call it, is the annual gathering of the Gaels. A festival which will be attended by 10,000 people from all Gaeltachts and beyond, and which will host some of the most prestigious competitions of our traditional arts. Sean nós singing and dancing, storytelling and oration, lúibíní and many others. Champions will be crowned this weekend, immortality bestowed. Hundreds will gather in hushed halls to hail new heroes and the families and communities that produce these champions will claim title to nobility.

Samhain is there since the beginning. It was the annual feast of Tara, where hundreds of thousands gathered to celebrate the last harvest. The word literally means summer’s end, the threshold of the dark. It is the time when we are closest to the otherworld, when the barriers between us and our ancestors soften. Our immediacy fades. We briefly become aware of the eternal.

I will meet people I haven’t met since last year’s Oireachtas. No matter. The distance of time or space is made redundant by the story we share. We’ll pick up where we left off. Like a family which meets for a wedding or an anniversary, familiarity will bathe us, and our handshakes, hugs and greetings will be as joyous as they are authentic. We’ll all be conscious of the significance of our gathering and put our best side out.

Language is more than communication. It is expression too. It provides us with another way to see the world, another way to make sense of it. And it is universal. Irish speakers of all backgrounds and ethnicities – from America, Japan, Russia, Africa, Australia, Canada and other countries are heading for Killarney right now. The Oireachtas is our festival. It’s what we do. It is our Haj, our Ploughing Championships, our novena, our Oxegen.”

More can be seen here. Including…