Michael O'Shea - Michael O'Shea (LP)
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 mesmerising and soulful new way that brought him to the attention of the leading improvisers of his day - Alice Coltrane, Ravi Shankar, Don Cherry and more.
A combination of dulcimer, zelochord and sitar, O Shea would play the instrument (Which he dubbed "Mo Chara", Irish for "My Friend") with a pair of chopsticks, striking the strings softly using Irish folk rhythms mixed with the rich, nostalgic sounds of of the many Asian artists he’d encountered on his travels. It was a pan cultural sound standing at an unusual crossroads of folk, traditional, rock, progressive, jazz, electronic and post-punk worlds without hesitation.
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 during the heady days of the 1970s when they were full of eccentric street entertainers, jazz improvisers and musical pioneers. His contacts in the world of post-punk introduced him to Wire's Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis via cartoonist Tom Johnston, to which O’Shea would eventually acquiesce to an open invite to record at their studio. Turning up unannounced in the summer of 1981 the self-titled LP was recorded in a day in the legendary Blackwing Studios and released on Dome the year after.
Michael O’Shea quietly disappeared from the formal recording world not long after the record's release, and his brief but unique contribution to the music world came to a sad end in 1991 when he was struck by a post van and died a few days later in hospital in London. This repress on All City’s AllChival imprint has been remastered and reissued with the approval of both Dome and O'Shea's surviving siblings. Lewis himself said years later of the forgotten masterpiece: “I always said it was the best job we ever did.”
No Journeys End
Guitar No. 1
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