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Album Review: Different Time Zones
Seamus O'Muineachain
Cover image of the album Different Time Zones by Seamus O'Muineachain
Different Time Zones
Seamus O'Muineachain
2022 / Ghost Home Recordings
25 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Different Time Zones is the fifth album from Irish composer and multi-instrumentalist Seamus O'Muineachain, but I have to admit that it's the first of his music that I've heard. Using a combination of piano, synthesizers and guitar, the music was created and recorded in both the Czech Republic (CET) and the Republic of Ireland (GMT) in 2021. Quoting the artist:

“Location has always been the biggest inspiration to my work. I believe our environment plays a huge part in the creative process. This album was my first produced in two locations, Czechia and Ireland.”

Atmospheric with simple melodies and textures, O'Muineachain's music has been broadcast in Ireland, Australia, Japan, The USA and The UK and has been compared to the music of Brian Eno, Harold Budd and Dustin O'Halloran. The beautiful landscapes of rural Ireland are O'Muineachain's primary source of inspiration. It is well worth noting that music videos for four of the eight tracks on the album are available on YouTube. Many music videos offer a more complete understanding of what the music is "about," but O'Muineachain uses animation as well as video footage to only hint at the meaning or inspiration, inviting his audience to participate in the process by creating their own stories or by simply watching the images and listening to the music.

Different Time Zones begins with "Over," an electric guitar and piano piece with atmospheric synth washes that add tonal colors and balance. "Summer Lightning" is even more ambient with a slight air of mystery. The colorful abstract images in the music video for this piece are what we used to call "trippy," and, actually, so is the music (this is a positive comment!). From darkened skies to brilliant flashes of light, it's a really fun video to watch! "If Only" has a light piano motif that flows throughout the piece while dreamy ambient sounds swirl around it. I really like "Almost," with its catchy rhythm behind the melodic and sometimes atmospheric synth. Calm yet uplifting, the piece becomes more ambient and mysterious as it unfolds. I think I'll nominate "Foraging for Wild Garlic in a Light Snow" for "Unusual Song Title of the Year"! The piano is quiet and still, sometimes with a rhythmic guitar rhythm behind it and sometimes with shimmering synth sounds that I interpret as the snow sparkling under the sun - a fascinating and colorful piece! "In Chechia, Under Stars" has a simple piano melody that weaves in and out of darker ambient washes as it moves the piece forward. The graceful yet stately "Dogwood" describes a peaceful meadow with perhaps a bubbling stream running near the lush, rich greenery of a dogwood tree reaching out to the birds and offering them a resting place (my interpretation, of course!). Nature sounds blend beautifully with the musical instruments to give "Vlatva/Shannon" a pastoral serenity that brings the album to a gentle close.

Different Time Zones is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, Bandcamp and other streaming sites like Spotify. Be sure to check it out!
January 7, 2022