Clann Zú - Rua (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Clann Zú

Rua (2003)

G7 Welcoming Committee

"And he sat & he prayed & he prayed & he sat & he prayed to St. Augustus, St. Brigid, Padre Pio, patron saint of all sinners, patron saint of all fools, patron saint of every fucking dying crawling thing beneath him, shouting out the names of the dead & forgotten. And he cried out for Christs sake help me! For Christs sake get me out of here! God of all sick things get me the fuck out of here!"

So ends "Words For Snow," the first song on Clann Zú's Rua, a wonderfully original and inspired album by this Australian / Irish band. It's just a sample of the surprising intensity this group puts forth on their debut.

Clann Zú play an eclectic mix of styles, with a rhythm section firmly rooted in electronica, instrumentation from Irish folk music and dark melodies that call to mind Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Declan de Barra has an epic voice. When brooding he sounds at an Irish version of The Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan, although he can move at a moment to soaring vocal highs. Russell Fawcus' violin is captivating and a central instrument on the record. The band's world music focus isn't too dissimilar to that of Joe Strummer's Mescaleros, if only much darker. I've seen reviews compare Lach Wooden's "sound manipulation" to that of DJ Shadow. While I'll leave the electronica namedropping to the qualified, I will say that these elements blend surprisingly well with the the traditional Irish instrumentation.

The 10 songs that make up Rua were remastered from their original release and sound fantastic in their current form. With the volume turned up this is a record you can completely loose yourself in. From the almost danceable "All The People" to the gothic, string-driven "Five Thousand More" to the Celtic-punk vocals of "Crashing to the Floor," there's a rare intensity here. To top it all off, de Barra's impassioned vocals are multi-lingual and jump from English to traditional Gaelic.

Clann Zú sounds like nothing I can think of, making them notoriously hard to describe. I apologise if I've stumbled a bit, but if you ask me this is pretty fucking brilliant.