Great art has the power to somehow articulate the abstract, to explain the inexplicable. After a year of turmoil beyond words singer-songwriter Sean Murphy, has channeled this swirling darkness in to a hauntingly beautiful album: ‘The Dark Below & The Isle of Dogs’.
Originally from Cork, Ireland, living in Dublin and having spent the last 12 months in London, Sean Murphy has seen this last disastrous year through the lens of an artist. Working under the moniker All The Queen’s Horses, Murphy has crafted a raw, guttural and emotive response to what he has observed as a darkness bleeding across the land and in to all of our lives. A twisted narrative is weaved in folktronica-rock; a patchwork of poetry, cello, synths and mournful pianos. A kind of warped, contemporary tapestry, the story of 2020 unfolds in low light and fun-house mirrors.
As a production, ‘The Dark Below & The Isle of Dogs’ has been something of a family affair – fitting for a year in which we have retreated into tight confines and familial bubbles. Murphy’s heavily pregnant wife, Sinead provided backing vocals; Uncle, Kevin Murphy (Slow Moving Clouds, Blindstitch) played cello and long time friend, Darragh Molloy, added further backing vocals. A makeshift community around the record gives it a feeling of collage and layering, something tangible and tactile. The resulting 14 tracks tap in to the national psyche, unlocking an almost freudian out-pouring of grief, darkness and trouble. Most of the record was made overlooking the Isle of Dogs from which it takes its name. Darkness became the overriding theme, a constant pandemic gloom through a rollercoaster of a year with, impossibly, only downs in place fo ups.
Astoundingly this is Murphy’s first full album. Murphy began playing the piano as a child, later exploring synths and guitars and playing in some college bands. The odd inertia of 2020 has provided a space (albeit a dark one) for him to really focus and produce a stunning body of work. There is a winding narrative to navigate here; from a relationship going ‘spectacularly and staggeringly wrong’ in ‘Raised By Wolves’ to a protagonist at war with their own demons in ‘The Dark Below’, the listener is invited into a gloomy theatre of self doubt, implosion and human flaws. With a first single set to drop as spring begins to lift in 2021, others will follow with a planned full album release in early autumn. With live performances lined up, 2021 promises to be a year of a different kind of change for All The Queen’s Horses.
The 14 songs on the album plus the hidden track of ‘The Dark Below and The Isle of Dogs’ were produced by producers David Virgin (SPK, Sekret Sekret), Rohan Healy and Al Quiff at Beardfire Studio in Dublin. The production team, made up of father and sons who have worked with the likes of Nick Cave, INXS, Leslie Dowdall (In Tua Nua), Mary Black, The Cruel Sea, Cat Power, Billy Bragg and Lloyd Cole – on stage or in the studio – during their six decades of musical experience together, to name but a few.
Singer & songwriter Tiz McNamara, who produced the songs (‘The Dark Below’, ‘Close Your Eyes & Think Of England’, ‘A Letter Of Recommendation To The Angels’), has already toured with James Bay and his songs reached over 15 million streams on Spotify.
The album will be released in autumn 2021, with 3 singles and videos upfront, kicking off with the single, ‘Raised By Wolves’ and ‘The Ides Of March’ , as an A/B side which was released on 26 March 2021.
The band All The Queen’s Horses is ready to conquer the stages and will play several European showcase festivals in 21/22.