I’m not really a religious person, but I’m no atheist either. Maybe you’d call me spiritual – or just plain indecisive – but whatever it is, I believe there’s something other than ourselves out there. With that in mind, when I listen to a piece of music that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and a shiver run down my spine, I feel a jolt of something that can’t be described in words.
Some people believe that spaces are marked with the invisible fingerprints of those who once passed through them, and that music made or played in spiritual or religious buildings takes on a certain mood because of this. So when someone takes an instrument long associated with religion, and places (plays) it in its usual context, there is often a special feel to their work. Or perhaps that is a sort of musical placebo effect…
Whether you are a believer (in anything) or not, Music for Church Cleaners by London-based musician Áine O’Dwyer is an experience anyone can be open to. This album, which is released on the relatively new – and already hugely impressive – Fort Evil Fruit label, is available on tape. The resulting (and always welcome) tape hiss only adds another dimension to the improvised songs that Áine (a member of United Bible Studies) crafts on a pipeorgan, as do the clatters, hoovers and other sounds you hear throughout the live recordings.
Each time I listen to the tape, I naturally picture a person in muted clothes, with Henry hoover in hand, methodically cleaning their way around the church while Áine plays just feet away. They are simultaneously aware of and ignoring each other, each going about their own work uninterrupted. If I close my eyes, I could be sitting in a pew myself, head bowed and – for the first time ever – not wishing this experience to be over soon.
Mail order: Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org
€5 per cassette
Rep. of Ireland / N. Ireland: add €1.50 p&p for one & €1 for each extra
Rest of world: add €2.50 p&p for one & €1 for each extra
Each tape comes with a download code (tucked inside the inlay so well that I didn’t even notice it first time around) and, in Áine’s case, a photo of the organ she played on in St Mark’s Church, Islington, in 2011 (above).