Traditional Irish folk music represents a profound well for artists to draw from. A nigh-on inexhaustible array of poetry both stark and profound, the most simple of text can have the most emotionally imposing impact on the listener.
A new generation of Irish musicians are grappling with this songbook, and it’s resulting in some truly incredible music. Lankum are one of the best-known exponents, and their remarkable performance at the recent Mercury Prize ceremony was ranked by most in attendance as one of the evening’s most impressive entrances.
ØXN share some members of Lankum, but have an identity all of their own. New release ‘Cruel Mother’ has deep roots, a song whose origins can be traced to the middle of the 18th century – but could well be much older.
Comprising Radie Peat, Katie Kim, John ‘Spud’ Murphy and Eleanor Myler, ØXN tease out the timeless nature of the writing, their drone-infused arrangement taking ‘Cruel Mother’ into the realms of blackest night.
Hugely affecting, ØXN seem to mirror the other-worldly aspects of the song, saying the unsayable in the process. The band comment…
“‘Cruel Mother’ is a traditional song, possibly originating from the mid-18th century, intended at the time as a cautionary tale. Women were considered criminals if they had illegitimate children; were considered demonic rather than suffering from mental illness or distress. It’s a song of persecution, abuse, infantilism and guilt based on the version by Andy the Doorbum.”
The bravura nine-minute performance is backed with a newly shot video, featuring the multi award-winning incredible Irish actor Olwen Fouéré.
A profoundly moving experience, you can watch it below.