Michael O’Shea – Michael O’Shea (CD)(ACMOSCDX1)
AllChival present a reissue of Michael O’Shea‘s self-titled album, originally released on Wire‘s Dome Records imprint in 1982. Having sold his instruments to fund a nomadic 1970s lifestyle, eccentric Irish experimentalist Michael O’Shea was forced to create his own handmade answer to the sitars and zelochords he’d become accustomed to playing on his travels around the globe. Using an old door, 17 strings, chopsticks and combining them with phasers, echo units and amplification, the new device was to become his signature sound, mixing Irish folk influences with Asian and North African sounds in a mesmerizing and soulful new way. Born in Northern Ireland but raised in the Republic, O’Shea was keen to travel and escape the troubles of his home. Wandering throughout Europe and the Middle East, O’Shea found himself living and working in Bangladesh in the mid-Seventies where he learned to play sitar. A later period spent busking in France accompanied on zelochord by Algerian musician Kris Hosylan Harp led to O’Shea’s idea of combining both instruments as a homebuilt instrument — Mo Cara (Irish for “My Friend”). A combination of dulcimer, zelochord, and sitar, O’Shea would play it with a pair of chopsticks, striking the strings softly using Irish folk rhythms mixed with the rich, nostalgic sounds of the many Asian artists he’d encountered on his travels. Perfecting the instrument on the streets, there were further spells spent busking in the underground stations and cafes of London’s West End and Covent Garden. His work with Rick Wakeman never saw the light of day but O’Shea’s contact with the world of post-punk London ensured his name would live on. Introduced to Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis via cartoonist Tom Johnston, O’Shea eventually acquiesced to an open invite to record at their studio. Turning up unannounced in the summer of 1981 the LP was recorded in a day in the legendary Blackwing Studios and released on Dome the year after. The first side features the fifteen-minute masterpiece “No Journeys End” with the B side featuring more input from Wire in processing the Mo Chara sound. After an aborted LP with The The‘s Matt Johnson the following year, O’Shea quietly disappeared from the formal recording world and his brief but unique contribution to the music world came to a sad end with O’Shea’s passing in 1991. Remastered and reissued with the approval of both Dome and his surviving siblings. CD version comes with a 12-page booklet.