Artist: Tau and The Drones Of Praise
Label: Gliterbeat Records
Release Date: 21/10/2022
Location: Dublin, Ireland and Berlin, Germany
Tau & the Drones of Praise is a fascinating band that draws on a wide range of influences and inspirations and whose sound and style are very hard to pin down. The best way to describe it is a term I saw used online, ‘Celtic Psychedelia’.
The band’s debut full-length album Misneach is a truly eclectic mix of different genres and influences. The band are essentially an Irish psychedelic folk rock band that are based in Berlin and have drawn heavy influence from the coldwave\post-punk scene and some Krautrock, jazz and other elements thrown in for good measure. Their sound somehow feels both retro and classic, as well as fresh and innovative, all while maintaining a sense of heritage, culture and spirituality. The album features collaborations with 16 musical guests in total including Tindersticks, Clannad as well as Irish troubadour Damien Dempsey.
There’s a lot to talk about on this album but I guess I’ll start with the vocals. Seán Mulrooney’s thick Irish accent is definitely a defining feature of the band’s overall sound. It gives it a unique character and immediately lets you know who the artist is. When he tones it down for the cleaner sung moments on the album the remaining hint gives these moments a unique quality. The heavy use of layered female vocals, backing chorales and stunning solo segments gives the album a dramatic flair. Some of the catchiest moments on the album emerge from these segments too.
Musically there’s a fantastic balance struck between atmosphere, catchiness and experimentation. The band really know how to make an album that has something for everyone. There’s also a hard to explain spiritual quality to the music. I think that a lot of this is owed to the album’s folk elements, religious and cultural influences and the psyched out female vocals mentioned previously.
The whole album is well worth your time, however for me there are some definite standouts, each for very different reasons. The first song that has to be mentioned (and not simply because of its order in the album is It Is Right to Give Drones and Praise. This is a RIDICULOUSLY catchy track and one that I’ve come back to time and time again since first hearing it. This is one of the songs on the album where the band take a more modern approach and add traditional elements such as accordion into the mix. This is very much a coldwave\post-punk, but the band have given it a rich atmosphere and a spacey, tripped out quality. This song features some of my favourite vocals from Seán Mulrooney who gives us just enough of his accent to keep things exciting but not as much as he applies on the folk tracks. For me though it’s the chorus that has me hooked, the harmonised group vocals cheerfully singing “It Is Right to Give Drones and Praise” repeatedly. The segment from 3:13 through to the end of the track is my favourite part of the whole album.
Track 2 The Sixth Sun is another fantastic track. It has a relaxed and strangely soothing yet emotional tone to it, as well as an epic sort of quality. The layering and development of sound on this track is also one of its greatest attributed. There’s a slow constant build as more elements and voices are brought into the mix and the energy behind the song grows.
Tracks 4 Na Heilimintí and 5 Ceol ón Chré are prime examples of the captivating Irish folk elements that the band weave into their unique sound. Track 4 has a more traditional folk feel and employs a simple yet captivating melody that carries the song from start to finish. The vocals are soothing and somewhat ritualistic, they have almost a mystical feel to them, which is re-enforced by the ethereal instrumental elements that accompany them at times. Whereas track 5 is more of an Irish folk rock song, the kind of thing that could easily be sung along to by the patrons of a pub as the band plays. There are some captivating traditional folk instruments on display here and they elevate the whole song with help of harmonised group vocals on the chorus.
For me the second half of the album wasn’t as bold, innovative, and impactful as the first half. For some this may be a welcomed development as they are allowed to relax and soak in the calming yet still engaging music on the last three songs on the album. On my first few listens to the album, I found them enjoyable, but they definitely don’t have the staying power of the first five tracks. I just felt like the songs of this nature had been done slightly better on the band’s 2020 release Seanoiri Naofa EP.
Overall I thought that this was a fantastic offering and the most diverse and boundary pushing album by the band to date. I’ll always have a special love for Seanoiri Naofa, so I don’t know if I can say that it tops that offering. However, I will say that it is bolder and more developed in many ways. There’s just a beautiful quality to that EP though that makes it a very hard call. If you want something fresh and different that also feels somewhat familiar, then this album is a must listen.
Listen to and order the album: