The music of Gaze is Ghost has fascinated me for years. Her songs have such emotive qualities that set them apart from most contemporaries, frequently compelling and otherworldly. The music takes the form from the classically trained composer Laura McGarigle, alongside more contemporary influences. Those songs have been gifted on a handful of rare occasions in the last year, but a double single was released earlier this year with the promise of more. Where the fragile piano of ‘Wild Geese’ floats, at one with a natural world, ‘Feather and Bone’ uses the talents of the trio for a fuller sound, bolstered by percussion and bursts of bass, with McGarrigle is now joined by Casey Miller and Keith Mannion (Slow Place Like Home).
We asked Laura to pick out a few of the songs that have inspired her music, a selection as diverse and distinct as her own music.
Julia Holter – Whether
Julia Holter is such a fascinating singer/songwriter- she seamlessly fuses art music forms and instrumentation with weird and wonderful off-kilter electronic soundscapes I particularly love the relentless drive of ‘Whether’ – the pounding bass drum is punctuated with skittery brass and the result is beautiful chaos.
Cosmo Sheldrake- Birthday Suit
I blame Cosmo Sheldrake for contributing to a recent woodwind obsession. Who thought bassoons could be so catchy? This is such a clever and fun song – the only criticism I can level to it is that it is so short (I am always left wanting more, but maybe that’s the point).
FKA Twigs – home with you
I always found FKA Twigs’ music interesting, but Magdalene is the first album that captured my heart as well as my head. I find the production very inspiring-it effortlessly flips from a more organic sound (voice, piano and woodwind) to something darker, creating a very rich musical landscape.
Meursault – Klopfgeist
This is one of my all-time favourite songs- I just adore everything about it. The piano chords, the lyrics, his voice. It is just such a gut punch of a song emotionally and breaks my heart every listen.
Laura Cannell – Untethered
I heard Laura Cannell perform at a concert in Glasgow a number of years ago and was completely blown away. ‘Untethered’ is from her album The Sky Unturned, an album on which the songs (largely improvised) were captured in a single take. This energy comes across in the music, which is raw, otherworldly and beautiful.
Caleb Burhans – Nunc dimittis
I love how bleak, beautiful and big this track is. I particularly love the diving glissandos in the voices. I would love to write a choral work someday (with pipe organ).
Laura Mvula – Sing to the Moon
I love Laura Mvula’s 2014 album Sing to the Moon which is a live recording with the Metropole Orchestra of her 2012 album of the same title. The lush harmonies and rich orchestral arrangements are quite sublime.
Nautilus – Anna Meredith
There is such a glorious energy to this track- that tuba line is wonderful (did I mention I love brass?). I do not think there is anything that Anna Meredith has done that I don’t find interesting. Nautilus I first heard live (complete with tuba) on the Tiny Desk Concerts. I would love to see her in concert.
Johann Johannason – The Cause of Labour is the Hope of the World
I find the late Johann Johannason’s music incredibly inspiring. ‘The Cause of Labour is the Hope of the World’ is the first piece I heard of his. It is for brass band and was written for the film ‘The Miners’ Hymns’- an elegy to mining life in Durham. It is such a powerful piece, both defiant and celebratory yet shot through with poignancy and loss.
Niamh Regan – How About That Coffee?
I heard this song only recently and my goodness, that voice! It stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it. There is such a sense of intimacy and authenticity in her music – I really admire these qualities as I tend to compose the music before the lyrics and struggle to enter into the personal. The production is also stunning.