"Trad" music and etc. (Lankum)

i have posted about the band Lankum a couple times. deleted a recent post and felt a little bad for it; particularly i know that @eblomquist is a fellow enthusiast.

one thing that IMHO lankum does well (if very subtly) is bring us back to trad music’s identity as class rage. latently this is apparent in their treatment of the cyril tawney classic “on a monday morning.” (please, not to be confused with the Fleetwood Mac song and covers!)

tawney deserves his own detail; perhaps most remembered for “the grey funnel line” - a Navy euphemism. this song has been covered a million times and often to cheesy effect; it is one of those things that can be read for cheerful resilience instead of dire and bitter alienation. (see also: “jonnny” / “guns and drums” / “the saints go marching.”)

sorry to say, i find cyrils’ original delivery of “grey funnel” and “monday” a bit dated, in his emotively agitated baritone accompanied only by a loose guitar strum. but they are brilliant songs; stripped to its emotive core, “grey funnel line” speaks to me deeply. ( i’ve covered this song myself and feel privileged to have performed it with henry barnes/AFC and tara tavi / et al. [Amps for Christ - The Grey Funnel Line - YouTube]. )

even more, that song has entered my deep (sub)consciousness as a potent symbol of alienation in the face of labor pressure - “pass the time like some machine” - and melded with the late great eliott smith reacting to the record industry / creative-industrial oligarchy - “keep a fat man feeding [in beverly hills]”

“monday morning” is in the same tradition, and Lankum’s rendition leaves it stark and cold in the best way. for me this was tbe most gripping song on the record (*)

the speaker hates their job and spends their earnings on escapism. they are denied the basic animal comforts (love, sleep, warmth) in service to a profit-seeking system

([crass “systemic death”] - fickin, just get it right ok?)

in irish trad, lyrics about alcohol (imho) sub for these baseline creature needs.

case in point, lankum’s rendition of “wild rover”

this rage at power is not unique; it’s an overwhelning element of folk lyrics. (no shit right?)

<… oversharing, deleted… >

(*) i have to gush a little. i think Lankum is just crushing it right now. they are doing the thing. every song has a turn, an evolution. this is their third record that i’ve heard: their first was interesting, second was brilliant-in-flashes, this… !? this is it. the once-ina-generation experience of a superlative set of musicians: finding each other, growing into their voice, stepping into their musical culture, and taking it to the next level.

(i think they are using drone and live sound technology [floor mic into LPF->reverb] the way that e.g. SteelEyeSpan or Pentangle did fuckin 50 years ago. but more consistently - it took my dear friend Henry above to compile the ultimate SteelEyeSpanMix. far superior to any one record… sorry!)

anyways, i wonder. i have attempted to connect some of these musical concepts / practices in recording and (mostly) in live performance: “trad” class consciousness, muscle memory, and the conceptual / formal freedom of electonic sound / free performance. i don’t pretend to have the natural grace of Radie Peat, but i appreciate the approach.

i am curious to see if anything shakes loose from saying this here.

custom such as yours… i could have any day … how could this (etc) not resonate with anyone who has struggled


This is wonderful!

Just waking up so a short reaction.

To me, Lankum adds an element that I consider to be part of the folk tradition that branched off in the 1960s, namely the overlay of psychedelic influences.

More to come…

Happy Sunday!

Edit: just noticed this in the NYT review linked to below by @secretstates :slight_smile:

“ intense, darkly psychedelic new album, “False Lankum.” “


Thanks for this. Great so see someone write so eloquently about one of the most incredible sounds to come out of Ireland!

On a personal note… we named our son after Lankum fiddle player (amongst other things) Cormac MacDiarmada. An amazing man who hails from an incredible family of musicians here in Ireland who over the past three decades have collectively shaped many of the strange and wonderful corners of Irish music, from trad, rock, free improv and pop.


I love Lankum, bought their ‘Between the Earth & Sky’ album on vinyl when it came out. Since 2016 I’ve been far moire into folk music than electronic music, coincided with me taking up the acoustic guitar again. There’s loads of great stuff out there, old and new.


Awesome thread and I love me some trad. I’d really suggest checking out The Gloaming as they fuse jigs and reels with a more minimal, atmospheric sound and remain my favorite group that comes from Ireland.


Also something about Peat’s keening vocal style and delivery brings a lump to my throat every time. I think probably one of my favorite voices in music right now.

Ian Lynch’s Fire draw near podcast is pretty great. This episode goes into the background of the Go dig my grave tune: Stream Go Dig My Grave / Died For Love / The Butcher Boy by Fire Draw Near | Listen online for free on SoundCloud


Very cool to see Lankum mentioned here - had tickets to attend a concert here in Maine just before Covid upended everything… Agreed that they are doing a lot of work to reinvigorate critical discussion within trad/folk music. The Mary Wallopers are also doing this, though in a somewhat more playful (less constructive?) way.
Regarding @graymazes mention of drone: Ian Lynch’s new album puts sustained tones at the fore. I’ve always liked music that deploys more interesting techniques and approaches within a traditional setting. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh’s music does this very well.
Sharing this here in case others aren’t familiar: Radie Peat & Daragh Lynch (LANKUM) - 'Hares on the Mountain' from episode 3 of 'This Ain't No Disco' - YouTube


Fovea Hex probably my fave modern take on trad stuff, definitely check if you haven’t heard before. main vocalist is Clodagh Simonds (formerly of Mellow Candle):

And this one (unrelated, new to me, from 1974) blowing me away today:


Just read this on the NYT and it seemed worth a share.

It has been thrilling to see Irish trad get so envigorated and a younger generation embrace the culture that I sometimes think we’ve been made to feel embarrassed about over the recent past.


Why have you been made to feel embarrassed about? Curious, as I’m not Irish…


Well, I guess perhaps just the homogenisation that all cultures face. I’m really not qualified to speak for a nation but I’d put it down to all manner of things from changes in education due to economic decline to the sprawl of globalisation. Common themes elsewhere but unbelievable for a country that trades so boldly on its culture.


no mention of Spiro yet? amazing bridges between folk/trad and minimalist pattern musics:


i am honestly confused: is “trad” only an irish thing? or might it cover other stuff derived from british iles musics? or (one could hope) might this be an expansive enough concept to cover other musics?

i must admit. i am a jewish bastard from california, with no blood connection to the british isles (save for my wife, a Cronin of County Cork)

but as i was studying the fiddle in all its shapes, it was the irish (and, i must admit the scottish) that appealed the most

i’ll be honest: it’s always a story that catches me. pattern-music in itself rarely quite cuts it without context; that applies to every “master” of what i was raised to call “american minimalism” (don’t hate me, it’s what they called it)

anyway here’s a song i love, and if it sends you on a Silly Wizard rabbithole then more’s the merrier


Not at all, although you might easily come to that conclusion from this thread! The designation “Trad Folk” is a bit of a minefield that I won’t go into, but I will post a couple of links to some stunning English “trad” singers!

And an English singer doing an Irish guitarist (Johnny Moynihan of The Dubliners) song:


the wind that shakes the barley (wikipedia) sung by lisa gerrard (dead can dance):

ps. irish trad goes dungeon synth in 1986


Yeah, bit OT but I have the MFSL version of this on vinyl, and it’s the last track on the side, it’s a total torture test for carts, if it can track this it can track anything!

[ I Would Not Live Always | John Francis Flynn | River Lea Recordings ]

john francis flynn debut LP I Would Not Live Always is really nice

some lovely modern touches with synths / tape loops / jazz harmonies / patternish pulsings


Oh this is lovely, thanks for the tip!

On another note, is anyone into Tuung? I like them a lot although I am mostly familiar with their earlier work…

Also there is Malinky, whose Three Ravens is wonderful.

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i like this film

(couldn’t find a version with subtitles)

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Hi everyone - just a note to say I am delighted and (maybe not?) surprised to find enthusiasts of trad (or whatever you want to call it) here. Love Lankum too.

I’m a fiddler myself, mostly of the old-time USian variety. Still trying to figure out how to shoehorn that stuff into our wacky electronic toys – it’s a different process for everyone, I imagine.