I like the idea of conveying a lot through a little

Growing up and based in Swinford, Co. Mayo, Conor Walsh is a self-taught musician and who started composing on the guitar in his late teens. Quoting Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92 as a major influential and life-changing piece of work, the musician started transposing his music to the piano in his early twenties. Having honed his craft over the past few years scoring music for documentaries, TV projects and short films while also performing extensively (the pianist famously premiered for Hozier in 2013), Conor Walsh released his début EP The Front on Ensemble Records in October 2015 last.

Conor Walsh - The Front (2015)
Conor Walsh – The Front (2015)

Unlike many of his peers who left Co. Mayo during the recession for bigger urban centres or moved abroad, Conor Walsh remained dearly attached to life in the rural West of Ireland, preferring to work from home.

It’s tough here in the winter, but I’m just used to it […] It’s a lonely kind of existence in a way, but it’s countered by the freedom I have here to use the space creatively.

Conor Walsh’s music is closely associated with O’Connor’s Hotel which has been in his mother’s family for over a century. Located on Swinford’s main street, the building is no longer run as a hotel but still has a working bar opened to the public on the ground floor. The lobby features an 80-year-old piano on which Conor Walsh has been playing and composing most of his own music. The building was used as a location to shoot the official video for The Front and takes also centre stage in Patrick Dyar’s beautiful short Conor’s Hotel.

The piano has got a lot of character I feel. It’s got a lot of ghosts. There are many people who’ve played the piano through the years, from the 1920s on who are obviously not with us anymore. So it’s like the piano is this permanent fixture in the lobby and everybody passes through. Life is transient, but the piano is always there.

Featuring four original tracks based on repeated motifs with subtle variations and layers of electronics, The Front seems to distil the quintessence of Conor Walsh’s musical ideas. Summoning sumptuous ambient soundscapes, “Quadrivium” and “One Swallow” both build up to an intense listening experience while “K Theory” features heart-stirring voice loops.

All quotes are from Conor’s Hotel.

Video and cover artwork © Louise Gaffney

Conor Walsh (RIP) sadly passed away on 11th March 2016 last at the young age of 36.