The Mining Co: Phenomenology | Folk radio
The Mining Co – Phenomenology
Pindrop Records – October 1, 2021
When an artist changes course, the first thing you ask yourself is if it is a one-time event or a seismic change. For The Mining Co., the question seems more than a little pointless; Phenomenology is a unique experience. What he portends for the future will have to wait until a later date. The real question is, what do we have here? The answer is something more than a little different and most certainly something very special.
Michael Gallagher, Londoner to Ireland, is known for his dusty, rootsy approach to folk music, but his latest endeavor allows him to explore territory far from the beaten track. Phenomenology is a foray into unimaginable frontiers, a science fiction detour based on John Carpenter’s cult film “Dark Star”. Tell the story of Dalby, witness to intergalactic stories that have unfolded through time. He observes terrestrial occurrences and reoccurrences in a land he left hundreds of years ago.
Instead of guitars, Gallagher moved to an electronic realm, augmenting the occasional electric or acoustic guitar with a range of keyboards and synths. Yet, deep down, it’s still an album from The Mining Co., just one that follows a little differently. A fan of eels and magnetic fields, he finds a way to merge this new approach in a way that makes it seem like a logical step even though he deviates from virtually everything we expect of him. .
Instead of a vast new spatial landscape, there is a synthetic world that seems to fit very well into the setting of The Mining Co. A perfect example is “Unexpected”, where a single synth frames his voice as he sings. love, but it is love. in the ruins. The chorus is played simply: “Oh, unexpected / unexpected love”. What makes the song so compelling is the way the chorus plays out against images of unspeakable destruction. The juxtapositions keep you going.
The vocals change from song to song as Gallagher attempts to portray the shifting characters telling different songs. At the same time, the keyboards seem in many ways to recall some of the types of synthesis that David Bowie used back in “Memoir of a Free Festival”. Interaction is never less than fascinating. “Beatify” flows over waves of keyboards before ending on a repeating riff that sounds like a computerized version of a broken record, creating the perfect ending to this cosmic journey through space and time.
Rather than a change as big as the constellations, what Gallagher has done is create a tone that suits the nature of this material. Although completely different from previous albums by The Mining Co., Phenomenology actually seems to fit very well into the frame it created. It’s not about exploring just for fun. Instead, it’s the sound of a musician seeking to expand beyond the limits of expectation. The Mining Co. takes journeys into the unknown, which is the best one can say of any artist.
Phenomenology is now available on Pindrop Records. Order via Bandcamp: https://theminingco.bandcamp.com/album/phenomenology
Photo credit: Pablo Errea