“Ain’t nobody wanna hear yo’ album,” nagged the voice in Michael’s head. When the sophomoric release from Craic Attics flopped, Michael O’Brien thought it marked the end of his musical career. That’s why he was surprised when a pair of Danes asked to fly out the “international one man jam band” for a performance. Mike had never been asked to play at a concert before and it was tough to turn down the opportunity… They wanted him to play the Holy House of Music (known simply as the Holy House).
Located in the Faroe Islands in Denmark, the Holy House is a performer’s dream venue. World renown for sound, the venue utilizes 100 meter salt chambers to achieve a perfect echo. A twisted array of mosaics – including artifacts from around the world - smother the walls creating a surreal experience. The ceiling is glass – and if you’re lucky you can bear witness to the magical Aurora Borealis rolling through the sky. This is not just a venue. It is a spiritual retreat.
So why Craic Attics? The Danish Pair found the crew on Bandcamp and felt the band’s sound fit the venue – worldly, yet unworldly. They believed an eclectic culture of sounds would awaken the venue’s spirit, and Craic Attics were their cheapest option!
When Michael showed up with a hefty box of instruments the Danish Pair had one question, “Where’s Danny?”
“Olney…” responded Michael. Apparently, they hadn’t heard the second album – void of the Fal one. “I brought some other friends,” Michael continued, opening the box.
One by one - from Accordion to Zither - Michael pulled out the instruments and hung them on hooks & stands on the stage. Each one was acquired thousands of miles away from the previous one. When he was done the stage was littered in an impressive display of instruments pleading to get played.
To finish stage set-up, Michael scattered “good luck charms” on the table – Ganesh, some toning bowls, and about 5 DK’s. “I’ll take all the help I can get,” he said sipping on his Holy House Concoction – an herbal tea blend he created specifically for the performance. “Kava to get the jam going. Sage to clear my head. Ginkgo to stay focused and a whole bunch of others to "feel good." He brewed it for 60 minutes at precisely 140°.
“Meditation Glasses,” Michael said holding up a pair of glasses he pulled out of his carry-on. “Gonna do the Creativity session for 20 minutes before I begin.” He then plugged the glasses into an iPod-like device, transitioned into meditation, and emerged 20 minutes later "awoken."
“So, when’s the audience coming?” Michael asked. The Danish Pair looked befuddled, but it wasn’t a communication breakdown.
“There is no audience,” one of the Danes replied bluntly.
There was nothing Michael could do but shrug. He picked up the ukulele and started a 2 hour concert for nobody. This album is a 40 minute representation of the primal jams that occurred that night.
“Live at the Holy House” is an authorized bootleg, recorded by legendary bootleg archivist, Hanz Hoff, known for his “let it be” mentality when recording artists. Hanz recorded in 96/24 so you can hear every nook ‘n cranny that happened that night – even if it is a pop in the tape due to latency errors. It did not matter no one was there to witness the show… listening in Hi Res with your eyes closed allows you to see the show in full detail without the plane ticket.
The album is composed of 13 musical instruments – 1 per track – and is broken into four 10 minute sections: Peace, Chaos, Cinema, & Drone. There are no hits. No hooks. No overdubs. Just mental music... Instru-mental.
Each instrument is as unique as the last. Some are beautiful. Others are bizarre. Some are broken (you can hear the Baglama’s neck CRACK in the middle of the performance) and several are out of tune (Michael’s signature sound). As different as they all are from one another, they all flow into one seamless show.
The playing is unapologetic. Sure there are slip ups, but there’s a real pulse to the album. It’s alive. This is transcendental folk that showcases global music in an nontraditional sense.
“Live form the Holy House” is pretty at times and ugly at others (after all, this is coming from the artist whose debut album is titled, “Mind the Noise”). Mostly acoustic, the final quarter of the album finds Michael “plugging in.” He ends his set with the instrument he’s been playing the longest- his late grandmother’s electric chord organ. After a brief encore break, he came back out and picked up his PRS electric guitar. He didn’t play any chords though… Using a metal bar slide, an Electro-Harmonix Sitar Ravish pedal, and a Supa-Trem pedal by Fulltone, Michael created an eerie soundscape that drops the listener into a winding Kubrick scene.
If the sounds alone don’t take you away, there’s a meditation track that syncs up with the album. If you’ve got a pair of meditation glasses (i.e. Kasina MindPlace) you’ll be able to load the track to your device and be fully engulfed in “The Holy Experience.” It is a surrealistic light show and as the neighborhood guinea pig I can confirm: if you’re into “unique experiences” I recommend this as much as bringing water to the desert!
Please contact MichaelJO.BrienIs@gmail.com for a copy of "The Holy Experience" meditation track.
Write-Up by Mac Van Hout; March 2016
released March 25, 2016
All instruments played by Michael O’Brien (in order of appearance, along with city acquired):
1. Ukulele – given as gift (made in Hawaii)
2. Super Bass Thumb Piano – Buenos Aires, Argentina
3. Wooden Xylophone with South African Flag painted on – Johannesburg, South Africa
4. Garrahand – Zurich, Switzerland (made in Argentina)
5. Bouzaki – Casablanca, Morocco (made in Greece)
6. Baglama – Istanbul, Turkey
7. Didgeridoo – Cairns, Australia
8. "3 Headed Pipe" (real name unknown) – Lima, Peru
9. Zither – Budapest, Hungary
10. Autoharp – Dolgeville, New York
11. Concertina – Stuttgart, Germany (made in Italy)
12. Electric Chord Organ – acquired from Nana (made in USA)
13. PRS SE Electric Guitar – won in raffle at Chipapalooza ’09 (made in USA). Used along with:
a. Fender Deluxe Amp
b. Electro-Harmonix Ravish Sitar pedal
c. Fulltone Supa-Trem pedal
d. Metal Bar Slide