"Empire One" by Katie Kim & Seán Mac Erlaine is the first single from "In The Echo: Field Recordings from Earlsfort Terrace", due for release later this year. An eight-track concept compilation album, "In The Echo" was curated and produced by drummer and multi-instrumentalist Ross Turner.
Recorded in various locations in the historic National Concert Hall building in Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin – ranging from old lecture theatres, to dis-used stairwells, to a former morgue – this record features collaborations between Irish musicians across an athletic span of musical traditions, including:
Lisa O’Neill & Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Katie Kim & Seán Mac Erlaine, Paul Noonan & Roger Moffatt, Eileen Carpio & Sean Carpio, Conor O’Brien & Cian Nugent, Brigid Mae Power & Adrian Crowley, Saileóg Ní Cheannabháin & Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, and Lisa Hannigan & Crash Ensemble.
"Empire One" by Katie Kim & Seán Mac Erlaine was one of the first collaborations recorded. “It really set the tone for the rest of the album,” says the album’s curator / producer Ross Turner. “It captures the unique sound of the building beautifully and the sparse arrangement allowed for the space to become a part of the recording.”
“Katie sang at an upright piano that was located in a room at one end of the second-floor corridor. We kept the door open to enhance the blend of sounds, with Seán situated at the top of a stairwell at the other end of the corridor, maximising the dynamic between the two performers and the building.”
Katie Kim adds: “I remember the recording of this very vividly, as I think it was my first time wandering the back hallways of the unseen National Concert Hall. The acoustics were beautiful, and the walls were painted this very muted dusty pink and it all seemed a little abandoned. It was visually inspiring straight away.”
“It's quite a solitary song and Seán's response is perfect. It almost sounds like a conversation to me, maybe because we were doing it all in real time. I could hear Seán like some dreamy memory down the hall – while I sat alone at the piano, facing the wall. It may seem like a love song on sight, but in fact, it isn't. The unraveling of his musical dialogue feeds that ambiguity.”
“There’s always a heavy shroud of mystery in her songs”, says Seán Mac Erlaine, who plays bass clarinet on the track. “Katie’s voice is usually heard through lush reverbs and amidst soundscapes, but on this recording, we hear the voice right up front, close with pared back piano.”
“Ironically enough, I’m playing into a huge natural reverb of the old empty marble staircase in a dusty end of the NCH just down the corridor. And so, in a way I’m occupying that mystery space while the song unfolds.”
released April 8, 2021
Produced by Ross Turner
Mixed by Brendan Jenkinson
Mastered by Stephen Quinn
Photography by Ross Turner
Design by Benedict Schlepper-Connolly
Recorded at the National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, between 2014 and 2016. Mixed and mastered in Dublin.
Released with the support of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media.