Based in Limerick city, Ireland, Paddy Mulcahy (aka Nubus) is a young classically trained composer and producer. Having developed a mostly ambient electronica sound to date, the musician has just released Tape Sketches on 1st June 2015 last, his first solo piano EP recorded entirely on an analog tape machine.
As suggested by the moniker – “NuBus” refers to a piece of hardware component that was used in the early Apple Macintosh computers and in Texas Instrument audio peripherals in the late 1980s – Paddy Mulcahy was drawn towards the sonic possibilities offered by software sequencers and Digital Audio Workstations at an early age. In addition to a series of self-released albums including Enter Morning (2013) and the Memory Season EP (2014), Paddy Mulcahy has also worked extensively as a composer for adverts, documentaries and short films. Since 2013, the musician has struck an interesting partnership with freelance videographer James Skerrit for whom he has scored several shorts.
In perhaps what constitutes a new departure for the musician, the eight tracks on the EP were improvised as “sketches”, performed on solo piano and recorded on a vintage Grundig tape machine. Paddy Mulcahy’s recent performance at Nils Frahm’s launch of his sheets project in London (2014) or his opening for Lubomyr Melnyk’s January 2015 concert in Limerick all point to a shared obsession with the acoustic sound of the piano.
This holistic attempt to grasp the mechanical nature of the instrument and its inner workings transpired in the recording process. Every accidental sound, every creak and crackle from the piano keys or from the hammers on the strings were deliberately captured while the natural hiss of the tape was also preserved in the final mix.
The musician’s reworking of his electronic soundtrack for James Skerrit’s “Eoin” into an acoustic piano piece (“For Eoin”) illustrates the overall approach adopted on Tape Sketches. Ultimately, the semi-improvised nature of the recording reveals graceful and delicate instrumental vignettes with each snapshot of fleeting moments in time taking a surprising life of its own on repeated listening.
Tape Sketches is available as a download only on Bandcamp.
[Update: Tape Sketches was re-released on 1631 Recordings on 4th March 2016]