“You know when a song is good enough to let go,” muses Seamus Fogarty of his patient and meticulous approach to songcraft. Over time and tide it’s given rise to the London-based Irish alt-folk and electronica alchemist’s truly magnificent second album and Domino debut The Curious Hand. A record not born of grand ideas realised at a stroke, but eked out slowly. A record made through open-spirited collaboration with friends and family and hours lost in a headphone world, before Seamus takes his songs and “screws them up,” as he puts it. By which he means squirreling them back to his home studio and applying the synthesiser drones and circuit burps, found sounds and spoken-word audio samples that give all of his records such wonderful atmosphere.
“Screwing up” his songs, in the best possible sense, is a recurring theme throughout Seamus’s slim but nigh-on flawless catalogue. The first installment was his ghostly debut album God Damn You Mountain, an auspicious introduction to his unique idiom. It gave acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle and bouzouki new context among Steve Reich-like lo-fi electronic pulses and gurgles and all sorts of found-sound miscellanea from the breaking of eggs to snippets of random conversations. From there, followed what now represents a kind of bridge between Seamus’s two longplayers, the haunting Ducks and Drakes EP. A repurposed passage of Ducks and Drakes even carries over to The Curious Hand. The Curious Hand’s 11 tracks are the most thematically and sonically immersive music Seamus has made to date.
The Curious Hand elevates Seamus Fogarty into a whole new bracket of artists doing fascinatingly skewed and modern and heartfelt things with roots-influenced and electronic music. He’s an evocative and thoughtful lyricist and melodicist and inquisitive sonic explorer for fans of all from Alasdair Roberts, Bill Callahan, James Yorkston and Will Oldham to Jon Hopkins and Kieran Hebden.