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Following on from our 2018 repress of his debut album “Content to Write in I Dine Weathercraft “ we’re delighted to present an Anthology of Stano’s productions spanning the start of his solo career in 1982 to his 1994 “Wreckage” LP. Featuring 18 tracks from the five LPs he released in that time span on double vinyl with extensive liner notes, it is a comprehensive look at one of Ireland’s more enigmatic musical characters.

A member of the legendary punk / post-punk group The Threat which disbanded after lead singer Maurice Foley disappeared to join the Hare Krishnas, he had set up his outsider stall early on. The Threat had Stano on synths, one of the first female bassists in Deirdre Creed and their debut single was produced by progressive trad musician Donal Lunny of Planxty. Stano’s solo career of improvised electronic music continued in this vein of the unexpected – sitting outside both the country’s mainstream and alternative rock scenes.

An indigenous musical industry with few resources even at the top level – studios, labels and venues being scarce – and with few of the cross water big independent acts venturing over the Irish sea to play Dublin in the early 80s, it was an isolated place where due to its intimate size the more traditional rock bands nestled in close proximity to the few electronic acts. News travelled through a small scene via fanzines such as the influential Vox, which was associated with Stano publishing his poetry and releasing his debut 45 « Room », the Peel & Fanning shows of course and the newly established Freebird records.

Eschewing both live performance and the spotlight for studio collaborations he worked with a number of Irish musicians - Roger Doyle, Michael O Shea, Daniel Figgis, My Bloody Valentine - and following the debut on local rock label Scoff records he signed to German experimental label Dossier where a further two LPs – 1986’s The Protagonist 28 Nein and Daphne Will Be Born Again the following year - were released. Signing to U2’s Mother records, he released their first Long player “Only” on the label which garnered praise from the UK music press including LP of the week in The Guardian. The final LP of this anthology featuring collaborations with Colm O'Coisoig of My Bloody Valentine "Wreckage" was released on Independent label Hue Records in 1994.

Using an old door, 17 strings, chopsticks and combining them with phasers, echo units and amplification, the new device was to become his signature sound, mixing Irish folk influences with Asian and North African sounds in a mesmerising and soulful new way that brought him to the attention of the leading improvisers of his day - Alice Coltrane, Ravi Shankar, Don Cherry and more.
A logical follow up to AllChival’s recent reissue of Stano's debut LP, Michael O’Shea’s self titled LP was originally released on Wire's Dome Imprint in 1982. The background to the album is as interesting and inspiring as the artist who created it - born in Northern Ireland but raised in the Republic, O’Shea was keen to travel and escape the troubles of his home. Wandering throughout Europe and the Middle East, O’Shea found himself living and working as a relief aid in Bangladesh in the mid Seventies where he learned to play sitar while recovering from a bout of hepatitis. A later period spent busking in France accompanied on zelochord by Algerian musician Kris Hosylan Harp led to O’Shea’s idea of combining both instruments as a homebuilt instrument - Mo Chara [Irish for "My Friend"].

He later described the process on the back of the LP himself saying:

"Having sold my sitar in Germany and being desperate for money to travel to Turkey, I conceived of the idea of combining both sitar and zelochord. The first Mo Cara was born, taken from the middle of a door, which was rescued from a skip in Munchen"

A combination of dulcimer, zelochord and sitar, O Shea would play it with a pair of chopsticks, striking the strings softly using Irish folk rhythms mixed with the rich, nostalgic sounds of of the many Asian artists he’d encountered on his travels. It was a pan cultural sound standing at an unusual crossroads of folk, traditional, rock, progressive, jazz, electronic and post-punk worlds without hesitation. 
Perfecting the instrument on the streets, there were further spells spent busking in the underground stations and cafes of London's West End and Covent Garden during the heady days of the 1970s when they were full of eccentric street entertainers, jazz improvisers and musical pioneers. His work with Rick Wakeman never saw the light of day but O’Shea’s contact with the world of post-punk London ensured his name would live on. Introduced to Wire's Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis via cartoonist Tom Johnston, O’Shea eventually acquiesced to an open invite to record at their studio. Turning up unannounced in the summer of 1981 the LP was recorded in a day in the legendary Blackwing Studios and released on Dome the year after.

The first side features the fifteen minute masterpiece "No Journeys End" with the B side featuring more input from Wire in processing the Mo Chara sound.
Lewis himself said years later of the forgotten masterpiece: “I always said it was the best job we ever did.”
After an aborted LP with The The's Matt Johnson the following year, O’Shea quietly disappeared from the formal recording world and his brief but unique contribution to the music world came to a sad end in 1991 when O’Shea was struck by a post van and died a few days later in hospital in London.
This repress on All City’s AllChival imprint has been remastered and reissued with the approval of both Dome and his surviving siblings.

STAFF COMMENTS

says: Mind expanding tackle here from All City's Allchival wing, who raid the archives of Wire's Dome imprint to reissue Michael O'Shea's self titled masterwork. Operating in the street musician tradition of Laraaji, Space Lady and Moondog, incorporating the DIY experimentalism of post punk and exploring the avant-garde and esoteric end of the folk and jazz worlds, this LP will beguile, bemuse and bewitch you in equal measure.


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