“You know when a song is good enough to let go,” muses Seamus Fogarty of his patient and meticulous approach to songcraft. Over time and tide it’s given rise to the London-based Irish alt-folk and electronica alchemist’s truly magnificent second album and Domino debut The Curious Hand. A record not born of grand ideas realised at a stroke, but eked out slowly and steadily, honed and cultivated, turned over and around, deconstructed and put back together again. A record made through open-spirited collaboration with friends and family and hours lost in a headphone world. All that and Seamus’s natural inclination to take his songs and “screw them up,” as he puts it. By which he means squirreling them back to his home studio and applying the synthesiser drones and circuit burps, found sounds and spoken-word audio samples that give all of his records such wonderful atmosphere. It’s as if they’re haunted by rogue half-tuned signals from another world.
“Screwing up” his songs, in the best possible sense, is a recurring theme throughout Seamus’s slim but nigh-on flawless catalogue. The first installment was his ghostly debut album God Damn You Mountain, originally released on Fence Records in 2012 and later re-released in expanded form on Lost Map Records in 2014. An auspicious introduction to his unique idiom, it gave acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle and bouzouki new context among Steve Reich-like lo-fi electronic pulses and gurgles and all sorts of found-sound miscellanea from the breaking of eggs to snippets of random conversations (“an intriguingly uneasy handshake between the ancient and the modern” as I wrote of it at the time). From there, also via Lost Map, followed what now represents a kind of bridge between Seamus’s two longplayers, the haunting Ducks and Drakes EP. A repurposed passage of Ducks and Drakes – from the shape-shifting track A Mile Beneath The Broken Heart of London Town – even carries over to The Curious Hand in the shape of the melancholy Seems Wherever.