A gently hypnotic guitar chord, starkly beautiful piano, and the hint of a cello start up before gently building for a few minutes until a fragile voice gently sings lyrics based on the Tao Te Ching. For 11 whole minutes.
No, it’s not the long awaited debut single from H & Claire, formerly of Steps, but rather the second mini-album from Ireland’s Dacianos. The band have had to release this as an album, despite it containing only two tracks, as BPI regulations define an album as lasting over twenty minutes. As the total running time here is 22 minutes, we’re denied the pleasure of seeing this lined up in the shops alongside S Club 7.
You get the feeling though that chart placings are the last thing on Dacianos’ mind. This is intelligent, uncompromising music made from the heart. The first track, Section 20 is a marvellously atmospheric epic, with lyrics that are based on Section 20 of the Tao Te Ching. Taoism is obviously a subject close to the band’s heart, as vocalist Barry Kavanagh has recently written a book based on Taoist philosophy. If this all sounds a bit off-putting and worthy, well it could easily have turned out that way. The blissful melancholy of the music however, makes this surprisingly accessible.
The other track, The Last Of The Mohicans is in a similar, lo-fi manner. It begins with a two note pattern on an oscillator, before a whole range of unusual instrumentation is brought into play, including cowbells and Tibetan chimes. Kavanagh’s vocals are in a spoken word style here, buried deeper down in the mix than in Section 20, as he recites a tale of a book-lover who used to read to him as a child. This is another eleven minute epic, with an organ slowly building to dominate proceedings around another lovely piece of piano.
Ten or eleven tracks of this would probably have proven too much to all but the most devoted of fans, and with little humour here, it’s certainly not the thing to listen to if you’re in need of some cheering up. As it stands though, this is a worthy companion piece to Mis-Showbusiness, Dacianos’ previous offering. It will be interesting to see what they can produce when demonstrating their undoubted talent over a full album’s worth of material.