The Craic in the Cosmic Egg by Paddy ShineRelease date: July 8, 2020
Label: Tesla Tapes
Perhaps, it’s just me, but as a fan of Ayn Sof, Temple ov BBV and Gnod in all its many incarnations and collaborations, I can safely say The Craic in the Cosmic Egg is Paddy Shine as I’ve never heard him before. This album takes me back to the first time I met Paddy back at the Buyers Club during my final days in university about four years ago, I remember talking to him about Neil Young and how much I enjoyed his lyricisms such as “only love can break your heart”, it’s great to hear Paddy make an album that can be referred to as Folk music. If anything can be said about the GNOD collective it’s that they are as legit and self-aware as people come, each one of the hydra’s many heads has got no obvious direction.
The album begins with the gentle and sedately introduction that is ‘Four Noble Truths’ built on some really nicely plucked guitars and what sounds like either some e-bow or maybe something like a singing-saw or I guess a violin, probably more likely. There’s a fitting sense of beckoning in the track, that seems characteristic of its creator. The Four Noble Truths refer essentially to the basic premise of Buddhism, the fact or presence of the existence of suffering, the cause of suffering as a consequence of the ego and the physical form, the potential to end suffering, and finally the path to enlightenment. This is perhaps something to mull over during the course of the album what is suffering and why is suffering, how do we mitigate it?
‘Sit Watch Wait (death is coming)’ is going to be the moment that blows a lot of people’s minds, it starts of with some trance-inducing ambience and bells, but is quickly joined by what I really hope is Paddy Shine singing like some sort of perfect middle-ground between Tom Morris, Neil Young and Thom Yorke. As soon as that happens, the album immediately lunches forward with an added intestinal length of human connection forged. The vocals are magnetically captivating and the bassline is fucking smooth as fuck, but really simple. I do keep wondering whether I’m thinking I’m hearing more common instruments and they’re actually more traditional instruments ran through some electricity.
The thing is that it’s simultaneously miserable and meditative and morose, but also the most accessible thing I’ve ever heard Paddy Shine do. It’s not a bad thing, it feels all-inclusive and very natural, there’s a vibe with Paddy’s current output that he could have made it at any time in history or in any place, he’s tapping into something universal. There’s obviously a grounding in his culture but, there’s a sense from the very traditional song structures and timbre that makes them feel like they’re inspired by archaic aural traditions and ancient spiritual ideas. ‘Big auld Moon’ is a great example of this, the guitar part just feels like something that someone could have played on an Irish hill hundreds of year prior on a lute or a harp or a bazouki or something. The samples on the track are quite disorientating but, again feel like they’re influenced by Shine’s sojourns around the “Gnod farm” digging for ancient bog wood and finding himself immersed in a land that’s been home to humans since before the Roman Empire.
‘The Trap’ feels like a more lysergic perspective on the album’s tone, there are some ambient tones dancing around that literally sound like peripheries of my brain will tripping. The gently tribal percussion feels very soothing and introspective and there’s a sense of sitting around a fire with a group of friends playing music whilst somewhat delirious. The vocals on this track are so soft, it’s amazing how much of anti-thesis it feels to ‘Bodies For Money’. However, it comes from an exactly equal philosophy, this is an album that feels like an exploration of the human condition and the connections we share together. I crudely covered the Four Noble Truths before, politically we may compare this to the utilitarian Pleasure Principal “seek pleasure, avoid pain”. On a universal basis, minimise pain for everyone, live according to your needs and self-sufficiently as you can so others can potentially meet their needs.
Just Say No… as a Gnod release was about the natural response of anger at the selfish mistaken goods people engage in to satisfy their own wants whilst others don’t get what they need. The Craic in the Cosmic Egg is not focusing its energy there, this is an album for sharing intimacy and personal pursuits of serenity. ‘Play it back into the circle’ seems to suggest this literally, the top-line melody on this track is so beautiful. What sounds like this really mellow swooping lead guitar, it feels a bit like the lead guitar from ‘On The Beach’ by Neil Young only if it was sound tracking Simpsonswave Ned Flanders driving in a technicolored cruiser. All of the whistles and soothing vocals, everything about it is welcoming and peaceful. I love it. It’s so extremely wholesome. It feels like Paddy is trying to reach out and embrace every listener, which I have literally seen him do during the Ayn Sof set at Rocket 20.
I really love how tranquillising this whole album is, it’s almost ambient, in how chill it is, without being Sparklehorse depressing or as formless as anything like Stars of The Lid. It’s one of the most serene albums I’ve ever listened to…’Come all the way in’ is literally something you’d say when telling a group a story or getting a crowd closer to the stage, or bringing someone in from the cold, hard world. “Come on in from outside, come all the way in”. The throating singing on the track and the kind of slant into a more dubby, krautrock vibe feel like some of the more sedately chapters of Gnod’s Infinity Machines, but again, the intention is one that wants to assimilate or connect with the listener rather than dissipate or even, decimate the listener. The choice to have sounds of smacking-lips like granny kisses is an unusual one but, overall, it’s endearing.
The Craic in the Cosmic Egg as the sum of it parts is an album that feels like it belongs to no time and no place, but is ultimately for everyone. It reaches out like the great branches of bog wood that accompany the release, metaphysically embracing the listener with a message of peace, love, and community. What better way to convey this sense of everyone being in life together than with folk music? A music of aural tradition passed from generation to generation like the most primitive exchange of knowledge. However, it is not just an album with a very welcome message and atmosphere, it is overall a collection of very well-written and performed songs that any fan of folk music, not just meaning the likes of Nick Drake but, also in the indigenous sense, should absolutely listen to. It’s a perfect match of modern and archaic folk sounds with an acoustic feeling, even in its most electronic moments.