Apart from all its other more obvious merits (Dawn Upshaw, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Donnacha Dennehy, Crash Ensemble, Yeats poetry …!) Grá agus Bás has a thrilling ‘search for balance’ thing going on in it. The title of course, reflects it; and the cover, too, for instance, with its depiction of a fight for space between the landscape and something more abstract and man-made (gorse fires come to mind under present circumstances); but most dramatically for me in the voice-ensemble dynamic in Iarla O’Lionaird’s eponymous piece, where the instrumental music (more abstract?) is rightly given plenty of space to ‘feature’ before Iarla’s voice (more landscape?) asserts itself and starts to win over one’s ‘only-human-afterall’ ear. (Hey, come on, I’m trying here … you know what Elvis Costello said about this pursuit.) (It’s reminding me a little of episodic novels where you really don’t want one narritive strand to end and it takes you a little while to get into the other part but when you do you actually don’t want IT to end, and so on to the end!)
Anyway, I know it won’t be everyone’s thing, asking so much of us, as it does, but I think this is going to be a hugely significant item in Irish cultural history, and I’m just glad it’s got such an air of geology about it (- excuse the puns).