On Saturday morning the news started to filter through that Ireland had lost one of it’s great up and coming musical talents in Conor Walsh.
I first came across Conor playing in a basement on Dame Street. He just sat down in front of a screen projecting the most peaceful of images, and – no introduction – started to play. He did so in the middle of a busy bar on a loud weekend night, and to start with the keys couldn’t quite overcome the chatter and the clinking of pint glasses, but they soon did. And 50-odd people sat in stunned silence and watched him play.
I googled my name and his before writing this to check what I said at the time. I told the now defunct AU Magazine he was “genuinely spellbinding,” and that sounds about right.
Conor was a rarity in Irish music. He was rare in that he seemed so far flung from every trend that’s passed through our shores in the last few years, yet he fit in anyway. His sounds were subtle and cinematic – literally cinematic, at some of his shows – and he seemed like he played for himself as much as for his audience. He was like an up and coming Efterklang, a Mike Oldfield or a Sigur Ros: part of a genre that sits right on the fringes of contemporary music and classical styles; that’s greatest success is so gorgeously straddling both.
A couple of years after seeing Conor for the first time, I asked him if he’d like to take part in a blog project I was involved in, called MAP. I’d seen him a few times in between, and had him firmly lodged in my head as someone to shout about whenever the chance came up.
Of course, he came through for me. The idea behind MAP is that artists from lots of different countries offer a track, that is then spread by a blogger in every other country involved. Most people I invite – understandably – have questions about copyright and things like that, or just send over the latest single. Conor, being Conor, told me he’d just finished the latest demo of his new song ‘The Front’, and would I like to use that?