Raising Holy Sparks ~ For Fran, Etched in Glass & Water

Raising Holy SparksFran of Sligo town, if you are reading this, please get in touch!  For Fran, Etched in Glass & Water is a love letter to you.  Remember that Irish bloke (Dave Colohan by name, although you may know him only as Dave) from the bar at the Glasshouse hotel a few months back?  Your company had just folded, everyone was partying, and there in the midst was this incredibly amusing gentleman spinning a yarn about how he’d just been in the mountains, filming in the caves.  You didn’t believe him at first, but there was something about his smile …

What you didn’t know is that this bloke was a founding member of United Bible Studies (the choral/modern composition ensemble?  Michael Tanner?  Okay, let’s leave that be for now), and a romantic, and that he went home and recorded this album for you.  Yes I know it would have been easily to go back to the hotel and look you up, or to find a sketch artist and stumble around the bars asking if anyone had seen you, but no, that is not the way of an original.  We really hope you’re not married.  Anyway …

I’m not sure what you listen to (the current top songs in Ireland being “Roar” by Katy Perry and “Wrecking Ball” by Myley Cyrus ~ we will assume these are not your favorites), but if you’re not normally a fan of ambient drone, it’s important for us to tell you that this album is really good.  I mean, really good.  Like, the sort of album that should make a person get in touch.  (I have Dave’s email address and nothing would make me happier.  Well actually there are a few things that would make me happier, to be honest, such as the woman I like giving me a ring, but that’s another story.)  The album is just beautiful.  Seven tracks of “For Fran, Etched in Water and Glass” (referring to you {Fran} the rushing river of the Carrowkeel mountains, and Sligo’s Glasshouse Hotel) bracketed by two tracks of “A Farewell Too Near a Greeting”.  I don’t know where he got all these things, but Dave used “accordion, Appalachian dulcimer, autoharp, harmonium, Hohner Organetta, melodica, shruti box, sampled Mellotron & trombone” to create this album.  They were apparently lying around his house.  The trombone begins and ends the album and the rest are in between.  On occasion the instruments are recorded in overlapping fashion, but from time to time a single instrument sets out like a lonely wanderer (especially in “Part II”).  I’m not sure if Dave is lonely, but he’s definitely dedicated.

In 1985 Stevie Nicks (you know her, right?) wrote a song called “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?”.  She wrote it for Joe Walsh, but she already knew him.  This is better.  It’s a whole album!  Okay, it won’t go platinum like Rock a Little did, but what goes platinum these days, besides hair?  It’s a digital release, a public love letter in zeroes and ones.  Dave may be old-fashioned, but this is the quickest way to publish an album these days.  But it’s also a tape, so think of it as a mix tape, on which all of the songs were written for you.  Fran, I really hope you’re reading.  A lot of people do desperate things for love, but seldom do they amount to fine art.  I’ve never met Dave, but you did like him enough to kiss him so you must fancy him.  To anyone who knows Fran: can you help?

To anyone else who is still reading, listen below and you’ll hear the love.  This is more than an album.  But even without the backstory – even with just the sounds and the sight of Skógafoss – it would be well worth the purchase.  Simultaneously melancholy and hopeful, For Fran, Etched in Glass & Water is one of the season’s standout releases.  (Richard Allen)

Available here


  1. Big Steven R. Smith influence?

  2. Pingback: ACL 2013: Top Ten Ambient | a closer listen

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