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Andrew Quint
The Absolute Sound, June 2018

Muldoon’s lyrics feature “macaronic verse,” with English and Gaelic interspersed. The music incorporates sean-nós singing, popular, music hall, and contemporary classical syntax. It’s brilliantly played by the six musicians of Eighth Blackbird, plus Trueman on fiddle and several additional Irish vocalists. The sound is highly detailed, the vocals having pop music intelligibility without any sense of artificial overdubbing. An essential acquisition for those open to music that crosses genre boundaries to achieve the highest level of authenticity. © 2018 The Absolute Sound Read complete review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, June 2018

Over the years, the chaste, economic style of Eighth Blackbird has earned it numerous awards for its collaborations with poets and other musicians. Now, we can brace ourselves for one more. © 2018 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle, May 2018

“Olagón,” the invigorating and ambitious musical collaboration spearheaded by the new-music ensemble Eighth Blackbird, is simultaneously unlike anything else and strangely, achingly familiar. Subtitled “A Cantata in Doublespeak,” it’s a far-reaching reimagining of a strain of Irish folklore, grafted onto a range of musical styles—everything from traditional folk fiddling to Renaissance motets to contemporary electronica. Anchoring the thing is the powerful vocal presence of the versatile Iarla Ó Lionáird, who also shares a composing credit with Dan Trueman. Between them they conjure up a wonderfully unpredictable musical landscape that seems to recognize few stylistic boundaries. © 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Read complete review

Nathan Faro
American Record Guide, May 2018

Composer-fiddler Dan Trueman and librettist Paul Muldoon have created an engrossing modern cantata in Olagon. The libretto is based on the tragic Irish tale of the destructive conflict between Queen Medhbh and her husband Ailill. Muldoon sets this tale against the political, social, and economic struggles of modern Ireland. His bilingual text mixes high and low verse, a modern expression of the centuries-long tradition of Irish macaronic verse. Trueman engages with this mixing of genres in his colorful score, combining elements of rock and Irish folk with modern classical and Renaissance music. Eighth Blackbird, with its omnivorous tastes, handles this with ease. Iarla O Lionaird leads with an expressive performance, capturing the nuances of the multifaceted text and music. © 2018 American Record Guide

Robert Carl
Fanfare, March 2018

All the musicians seem to be having a ball, and cut loose with abandon (yet never lose their precision). This is very much a studio recording, with superb production values. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review

Steven E Ritter
Audiophile Audition, March 2018

Eighth Blackbird is superb ensemble that always offers thoughtful productions even if I don’t always subscribe to their ultimate value. Well, no one bats a thousand all the time! But they are provocative, and often what they do come up with is well worth the time taken to explore. Sound is bright and clear, performances exemplary, and the piece itself is one of the year’s most rewarding issues of new music. © 2018 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, January 2018

It is beautiful, this. It has true lyric memorability, an intriguing score of chamber instruments and some electronic enhancement. Iarla is central as the vocalist, not singing in any trained operatic way, but more in a singer-songwriter way with distinct Irish overtones, real contemporary song form. There are some lovely part-singing sections as well.

It is a work of rare provenance, tonal but modernly adventurous. A kind of “Escalator Over the Hill” for the present-day, but utterly different and original.

I am taken by this music. There is ever a place for me for beauty and poetic, winsome suchness. Olagon gives you more of it than you might have a right to expect nowadays. © 2018 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review, December 2017

Vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird sings in a way that is not traditional singing, nor is it Sprechstimme, nor is it reciting—it is a specifically Irish declamation style called sean nós. This fits with the fact that a certain amount of the text is in Gaelic—the work’s title is a word for a cry of mixed triumph and anguish—and the entire production is a modernized retelling of an old Irish epic. …There is intentional humor here as well, in what is presented as the story of a decadent and amoral “power couple” whose world is intertwined with that of Ireland in the early 21st century. …The presentation of the material is absolutely first-rate… © 2017 Read complete review

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