Roger Doyle – Time Machine

Reviewed on Wed 16 Sep, 2015

It’s a hypnotic exercise in eavesdropping, in Proustian recall and, above all, in bittersweet hindsight, its surface immediacy beautifully meshed with sub-cutaneous autobiographical poignancy.

Time Machine confirms Roger Doyle as Ireland’s leading composer. At 66, ‘the godfather of Irish electronic music’ remains a towering figure, one whose concern for quotidian detail is as freshly eclectic as ever, his ear for the novel and the nuanced as intelligently attuned. There’s something blissful and poignant about the modesty of his settings of answering machine messages recorded over a three-year period in the late 1980s. It’s a hypnotic exercise in eavesdropping, in Proustian recall and, above all, in bittersweet hindsight, its surface immediacy beautifully meshed with sub-cutaneous autobiographical poignancy. That there is something of the anthemic pathos of Gavin Bryars’ Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet and the buoyant, pop-bright electronic bleeps of Happy Here (Thinking About You) by Danmass here, says much about the breadth of Doyle’s references and resources. Shifting between narcotic swathes of electronic washes, now vigilant, now keening strings and doleful piano, this is ineffably sensitive music profoundly alive to the widest of emotional registers.
–Michael Quinn