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A Litany Of Failures, Vol III
Various Zara Hedderman , November 19th, 2020 08:52

A compilation of independent and underground music from Ireland proves a balm for Zara Hedderman

One of the greatest pitfalls of mainstream media – aside from its collective propensity towards homogenous material – is its reluctance to highlight artists operating with little (or no) regard to creative compliance in becoming a marketabile entity. In the world of music, particularly, we often see acts preferring to become a polished brand than band. Making a deal with the suited music industry devil typically results in all heart and soul being ripped out a project.

More often than not, the most visceral and captivating music comes from musicians playing locally within an independent scene. Typically, it’s outliers that bring forth a far more exhilarating and earnest style to deliver their message. They ensure creative autonomy across their songwriting in the absence of corporate expectation and a paint-by-numbers production style. These are the musicians who, when they aren’t on stage themselves, are amongst the crowd watching their contemporaries perform in the usual spots in town. Furthermore, it’s not atypical to see the same faces swapping instruments in various bands. In this regard, the music created by DIY and independent musicians often captures the sparks of passion and fun ignited by playing music. This striking sense of community and cross-pollination is particularly ingrained in Ireland’s fertile independent scene, as demonstrated on A Litany Of Failures: Volume III.

Within the independent realm, songwriters have the freedom to draw inspiration for their lyrics from whatever they want. Politically-charged message about gender-equality rights, a takedown of individuals exploiting their position of power or a sweet homage to an artist or television series of great personal significance. Nothing is off the table. Sonically, they can choose to colour their arrangements with a myriad of tones and textures. Since the compilation began in 2016, it has continued to provide a platform for acts around Ireland who are ignored by mainstream press. It’s introduced audiences to exciting alternative scenes thriving outside of Dublin, opening the eyes and ears of countless music fans. The latest installment of the series is no exception.

Expanding their tracklist from eighteen tracks to twenty-three, A Litany proffers a spectacular range of artists, each with their own unique style. As is the case with any compilation, establishing a cohesive through-line across the material can be a challenge, especially when each artist is working under contrasting genres. Somehow, the progression between dreamlike experimental jazz (The Bonk) to krautrock (Percolator) and exhilarating post-punk (Grave Goods) to pulsating EBM arrangements (Rising Damp) feels alarmingly natural across the record. As ever, this anthology proffers a comprehensive guide to Ireland’s boundless talent. Representing all corners of the country with Beflast delegates including Careerist, Mob Wife, and Junk Drawer, while Autre Monde and Extravision making noise from Dublin and Limerick’s dynamism is displayed via Hey Rusty and Post Punk Podge. There are plenty of nice surprises to behold, from immersive songs inspired by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks on Girlfriend’s eerie ‘Laura’, an unexpected pop-pivot from Junk Drawer with the infectious ‘Tears In Costa’ and Post Punk Podge’s exceptional breakdown of “tastemakers” set to a claustrophobic, industrial dance-beat on ‘Still At The Music’.

Another integral aspect to the A Litany Of Failures compilations, aside from the music, is to portray the aforementioned binding community permeating Ireland’s independent and DIY scenes. Throughout the tracks, we’re enlighted to unlikely collaborations. On this occasion, it’s Dara Kiely of Girl Band and Postcard Version’s Ross Hamer on the psych-infused marching beat of ‘Drink All the Paint’ from their Fifty Years Of Hair project. Elsewhere, Belfast-based producer Chris Ryan appears on the credits of three songs on the record (SORBET, Robocobra Quartet and Careerist). Despite the evident unity within this tight-knit community, there’s an undeniable individuality emanating from each track. The genre diversity across the twenty-three artists is impressive. It encourages audience to broaden their understanding of what Ireland’s independent scene sounds like in 2020.

Overall, A Litany Of Failures: Volume III is a much appreciated and needed antidote to the mainstream and celebration of independent artistry.