Just as it’s impossible to spell their name without having read it first, it’s next to impossible to describe The Olllam’s sound without having listened to it.
The good folk at TradConnect had a go, saying, “Imagine the Bothy Band plugged into some celestial Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds vibe and you might get a sense of the creativeness of The Olllam”, but even this fails to describe the collision of styles and worlds that this transatlantic three piece bring to bear on traditional music.
After a decade of talking and dreaming, The Olllam was formed last year by Belfast-born uilleann piper John McSherry, a founder member of the legendary Lúnasa, along with Detroit jazz musicians and multi-instrumentalists Tyler Duncan and Michael Shimmin.
With a name inspired by the ollam bards of Irish lore, the trio wanted an ensemble that naturally represented their combined experiences in a multiplicity of styles. Their debut album, ‘.the olllam.’, was recorded across the Atlantic, through emails and Skype rehearsals, but has a cohesiveness that belies its disparate styles and long-distance gestation.
‘.the olllam.’ is lush with trance-like melodies, stunning instrumental virtuosity and a magical marriage of tradition and technology, finding the listener somewhere between Radiohead and Planxty while encompassing modern post-rock ambience sounds that would not sound out of place on an Explosions in the Sky release.
The Olllam play Monroe’s Live on Friday 19 July at 9pm, followed by Headford’s renowned Tav Jam Band from midnight until late. Admission is €5. For more information, see www.monroes.ie.