The one thing your writer has pointed to repeatedly about Cork black-metal outfit God Alone is that they’re among the first generation of musicians and listeners to grow up in a climate where the lines between youth subcultures aren’t so much fluid, as non-existent.
The demise of the old ways of discovering music has led to a generation of young listeners and players that have taken in a diverse array of sounds and genres that even a generation ago might have boggled the mind of the staunch genre loyalism that, for many, formed an important part of their own adolescent experience.
You can hear it in the five-piece’s music: a cathartic, technical and literate fusion of black metal and shoegazing forms the basis for a whirling dervish of tones, textures and tastes. Folkish flourishes peek above the maelstrom on occasion, auto-tuned vocals nestle on top of proggier moments that equally recall post-punk, Eurodance and math-rock.
So it’s no surprise that the Northside lads reacted to the sudden stop in live activity served up by the Covid crisis with an idea that reflects that same broad frame of reference: a remix album.
Metal and electronics have long had a relationship, especially in Ireland, such as Northern outfit Manchild’s big-beat collaborations with Therapy? man Andy Cairns or Bliss Signal, Corkman James Kelly’s electronics project with Bristol grime producer Mumdance.
The same spirit of collaboration flows through God Alone², an eight-track album of Irish electronic producers’ reinterpretations of songs from the band’s 2019 self-titled extended-player, released online last month, and available soon on tape from Cork collective Hausu. Bassist/vocalist Cian Mullane discusses setting about the idea.
“We've wanted to release a project like this for ages, and the lockdown gave us a perfect opportunity to actually go about doing it. We just asked some of our favourite producers around the country if they'd be interested, and thankfully they were more than happy to remix our tunes. We couldn't be happier with all their work.”
There’s a massive variety of electronic music and creation to be found on the list of producers charged with reinterpreting the band’s sound and fury. Cork hard-drum producer Doubt’s fix-up of ‘Feeling on Tic’ takes the song’s reverby moments and places them in a pounding, percussive direction, while Kilkenny/Carlow man Fomorian Vein plunges the depths of ‘Madting’ and emerges with glitchy breaks and broken-down vocals. Kerryman Donagh Sugrue, under his An Eldritch Abomination name, plays liberally with some of the band’s cockier staccato guitar and builds into skittering, rolling drum-breaks, while ambient producer Gadget and the Cloud stretches ‘Yes Aiii’ into a magnificent seven-minute soundscape. Guitarist/vocalist Jake O’Driscoll outlines that there weren’t any rules set for producers going into it.
“We just sent each producer the (masters) and asked them to do whatever they'd like with them. We had full faith in each of the producers, and we gave them as much artistic freedom as possible to do what they'd like. The results were class, and there's an unreal mix of genres and styles throughout the EP.”
Matthew Corrigan’s Ghostking is Dead project collaborated successfully with God Alone.God Alone creates big music on a lot of levels, as anyone that’s seen the band in person can attest to. No mean feat for any producer to take, reinterpret and mould in their own voice, then, but being given scope to reshape the songs as they saw fit blew open doors for collaborators like Ghostking is Dead songwriter Matt Corrigan.“Sitting in front of ‘Ke Ta’, with near endless opportunities, was fantastic and daunting entwined. Ultimately, it became an exercise in impulse. I could only take pieces and bites and act on the manipulation instincts they triggered in me. To this end, I tried to use as much (of the song) as possible, drawing out sounds from the original to meet my own nefarious ends. I did a lot of things on that remix that I don't think I've ever done before, which is the sign of some fuego source material.”
God Alone creates big music on a lot of levels, as anyone that’s seen the band in person can attest to. No mean feat for any producer to take, reinterpret and mould in their own voice, then, but being given scope to reshape the songs as they saw fit blew open doors for collaborators like Ghostking is Dead songwriter Matt Corrigan.“Sitting in front of ‘Ke Ta’, with near endless opportunities, was fantastic and daunting entwined. Ultimately, it became an exercise in impulse. I could only take pieces and bites and act on the manipulation instincts they triggered in me. To this end, I tried to use as much (of the song) as possible, drawing out sounds from the original to meet my own nefarious ends. I did a lot of things on that remix that I don't think I've ever done before, which is the sign of some fuego source material.”Actualacid man Jack CorriganFor Actualacid man Jack Corrigan (a relation of labelmate Matt, oddly enough), the process of reinterpreting ‘Yes Aiii’ was about reflecting the band’s own unpredictability, grabbing and dropping pieces of music to fit something entirely new as mood and ideas dictated.“I didn’t want to extract a specific groove or riff and try to dress it up differently because, there was simply so much good stuff in the (masters) they sent me. So I took a load of the elements and their “anything could happen next” philosophy and tried to see how far I could take that approach, just to keep introducing ideas and dropping others til it got to a weird mixtape-type place. It definitely ended up extremely loose and meandering, but it was a fun experiment”
If it sounds like there’s a lot on your plate in pressing play on God Alone², it’s because there really is. But stepping back from the volume, distortion and sheer tumult, it’s also a concise document of eight of the country’s emerging electronic artists, catching the band’s music at source and running wild with it. It makes for a vital listen, while its release via Hausu lends the project a further sense of community, evidence of which is an antidote to the dearth of gigs in the city in recent times.
“We are the happiest campers with it,” says Mullane in typically familiar fashion. “All of the producers created absolute bangers, and we couldn't have asked for better remixes. We'd been looking into the idea of creating tapes for ages, because they look really cool, and Hausu are the perfect fit of really sound people and class producers to work with.”
“I think the finished project is brilliant,” says Automatic Blue producer Drew Linehan. “Everyone turned it up to 11, and I was amazed by how consistent the project was; every song sounds like it’s from the same sonic universe, and I think that's a testament to the artists understanding how to effectively balance their own distinctive styles with God Alone's own idiosyncratic sound.”
Lockdown has surely been anathema to the God Alone lads - having gigged as much as humanly possible over the last few years, and 2020 was shaping up to be a killer for the band, including more UK touring and an appearance at progressive rock festival Arc-Tangent in Bristol. Alas, circumstances have dictated, but the band has made the best of it.
“We've written a serious amount of new tunes over the whole lockdown, that continue the vibes from our self-titled EP, but are also a lot dancier and shoutier. We have some class stuff planned for next year that will hopefully go ahead, but if not, then we will just continue to make tunes in a room together as we've always done, and will always do,” says O’Driscoll with a grin.
- God Alone² is available now via HAUSU and Cosmonaut Music. Download and stream it at godalone.bandcamp.com, as well as the major streaming services. Pre-orders are still open at the band's Bandcamp for a transparent purple cassette release of the album, to be delivered soon.