A dossier of illuminations and orientations relating to the work of Daniel O'Sullivan.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


My debut solo album VELD will be released by O Genesis Recordings on June 30th. It's available for preorder here. Assembled at Tower Gardens Road under sidereal supervision. Cover art by Mark Titchner. Cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering, Hammersmith. Some blurb from beyond...

Tim Burgess’ curated imprint O Genesis Recordings present VELD, a new solo album of luminous pop incantations, electroacoustic music and shimmering drones from composer and multi-instrumentalist Daniel O’Sullivan. Whether solo or in his varied collaborative projects, O’Sullivan’s work is remarkable in the way it infuses familiar everyday experience with traces of the uncanny, the secret and the magickal. VELD distils these tangled realities into a wonderfully rich and complex record — one of O’Sullivan’s most immediate and moving pop albums to date, yet one that's strikingly dense and allusive, alive with enticing sonic diversions, hypnotic mantras and eerie biomechanical rhythms. 

VELD was written and recorded between 2010 and 2016 while O’Sullivan was living on Tower Gardens Road, during the same phase that also nurtured other collaborative projects including Grumbling Fur (with Alexander Tucker) and Laniakea (with Zu’s Massimo Pupillo). This was also the space where O’Sullivan assembled and arranged Ulver’s 12th studio album ATGCLVLSSCAP and the last two Æthenor LP’s (O’Sullivan’s “automatic composition” group with Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) and Steve Noble). The house was a kind of parallel world, an oasis of the strange and the mystical in suburban North London belonging to Ian Johnstone (artist, permaculturalist and muse of the late Jhonn Balance of seminal English experimentalists Coil), who passed away in 2015. The album is dedicated to Ian and his home who, explains O’Sullivan, was a friend, inspiration and grounding space over the years. 

Their influence has audibly seeped into O’Sullivan’s intuitive, exploratory approach to music. His varied work is united by a love of bricolage, a fascination for drawing sounds and ideas from across disciplines and aesthetic worlds into a shared orbit. Traces of his many projects all meet and mingle in VELD: from his solo music as Mothlite to the lysergic songcraft and space-time vortices of Grumbling Fur and Laniakea, the reality-distorting zones of Æthenor and Ulver, the electronic pop of Miracle (with Zombi synth maestro Steve Moore), and his recent involvement with another pioneering London group, This Is Not This Heat. 

While distinctly a solo-led record, VELD is animated by the same roaming, impulsive compositional spirit as his collaborative work. While grounded in pop music — which O’Sullivan describes as the ideal vessel for channelling more celestial energies — its dreamlike soundworld draws inspiration from across both natural and human landscapes. Its influences range from Ray Bradbury (whose story ‘Veldt’ inspired the album’s title) and Gurdjieff to Borges and Anais Nin; St. John’s Wort and Psylocybin to Tottenham Cemetery and Streatham Common; Cocteau Twins and Judee Sill to Alice Coltrane and Tony Conrad. 

Written during a time of great personal upheaval and growth, these are songs steeped in thoughts of change and growth: the joys, fears and strangeness of parenthood and family life, loss and grief, the passing of time. Yet they’re also inspired by the transformative, self-obliterating potential of sound and music — its ability, explains O’Sullivan, to weave together multiple voices, forms and aspects of the self into a unifying whole. So throughout you hear O’Sullivan’s voice merging and phasing with guest vocalists including Linn Carin Dirdal, Jael Reasoner and Astrud Steehouder, as the music surges from astral pop songs (‘Scorpio Rising Blues’, ‘Sabotage Devices’, ‘Luminous Fibres’) to dubbed-out electronics and burning feedback (‘Plutonians’, ‘The Projector’), fractal sound collage and spidery guitar pieces (‘Doe A Deer’, ‘Be Honour You’). The result is a record whose songs evoke multiple universes and other possible realities, making it O’Sullivan’s most unified and self-contained solo work to date. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Peru, February 2017

January SAD toppled me this year. A number of incidents involving the intimate nature of teeth became altogether too agonising to bear. So I decided to visit some OLD friends in the Amazon. Some older than I realised. Energetic work with Ayahuasca and Noya Roa under the guidance of Manuel Mahua, Papa Gilberto Mahua and Oscar Rodriguez Reategui in Pucallpa.

Tasting the tears of stars that fruit the fallen trees. Thinking about Milarepa, the art of listening and the development of LUNG-GOM-PA. The awakening of living spirit.

"Home is where all your attempts to escape cease." - Naguib Mahfouz

The restoration of sight. The little machines on another frequency, tirelessly working to repair the damage done and not yet done. The suffering inseparable from joy. The luminous ape in the library of everything. 

The finger pointing at the star is not the star. Resistance to the dropping of the body. Holding breath so very tight. 

Home. The heaving, seething, perpetual blush. The groaning, birthing belonging.

Carried away in play. Lost in recognition. The fibres aligning only to become prideful. The grasping. Let go to nurture. The nature of providing is the practice of release.

Tavener's Magnificat. Band On The Run. Rhythm Of The Saints.

This time I would listen. I would make myself confortable and let her work on me. The astral hospital bed. 

Fanning, combing, inverting. Gondolier of the neural canals. Breathing the prism. Fireflies dimming the grey skinned, fingerless imp. In dark slumber.

The spinning helix, the jealous lover, the trickster. Naughty, clingy Mary Mary.

Watercolours as offerings. Staving off starving.

She made her voice known to me. Distinguishable from the others. To be a child.

The parent of the self. The dilating diaphragm. The pockets of breath between vertebrae. A childish Pieta. 

Friends you lost to objects they cultivate a ghost in the stuffed and the glass eyes and paint.

Traveller of the arteries. Navigator of hidden realms.

Baptismal submersion. Spitting perfume. The crown and the fingers. 

Arcana. The shell is a perfect, purple cell. The song where everyone nuance contains a new lesson, another curvature in the undiscoverable sphere.

Don't be shy. Be flexible. Don't interrupt. 

We were all children. We knew not.

The woman of the stars, the man of the roots. The behaviour of the observed is affected by the observer - on this we can all agree.

My home. Her final transmission. "You don't have to make any big decisions yet my son."

Service. Gratitude. Patience. Forgiveness.