It started when I got more brave. I just wanted to see if I could make something real using the colours that were in my head.
Dubliner Patrick O’Laoghaire aka I Have A Tribe calls himself an unfinished man, and he says it feels good to be an unfinished man. What he doubtlessly means is that he keeps learning, and that it will never stop. And, in all honestly, if this constant search for knowledge manifests itself in sounds like the ones from his latest project I Have A Tribe, one sincerely hopes the likeable Irishman never ceases to learn. His tracks have an organic, three-dimensional quality that lends them a rarely found sincerity; his music is, at times, fragile, with the sound of tender, dreamy chamber music – then it expands, careering forward and unfolding an unforeseen energy.
In the short period of time in which Patrick O’Laoghaire has been active as I Have A Tribe, his songwriting has become even more complex. A distinct leap can be observed from the melancholic indie gem “Yellow Raincoats” to more recent songs such as “Animals” – the range of emotions Patrick O’Laoghaire is now able to evoke has grown more colourful in a brief timespan: sounds of fury and outrage intermingle with the casual sorrowfulness of his first songs. Patrick himself sees it similarly: he wants to project the colours in his head into the outside world, he wants his music to paint pictures. And it does, sometimes with sweeping brush strokes of light and joyous hues – then, in the next moment, things grow turbulent, as a paint-laden brush nearly tears the canvas, leaving jagged forms in a wild mix of red and black. I Have A Tribe brings the entire colour palette to life, and – just as the fine arts – transcends boundaries and time to create a plane of communication that uses unfiltered emotional expression to achieve its gripping intensity.
A search for similar artist spits out bands like Midlake, whose folky instrumentation I Have A Tribe most closely resembles, yet, here and there, versatile electronic sound bites surface; the synthesizer parts in “Calgary” are reminiscent of Bowie’s Berlin phase and unquestionably invoke his masterpiece Low. And, in some more intense moments, he brings a musical power that is reminiscent of Warren Ellis’s Band The Dirty Three; vocally, Patrick can be compared to Antony, the supremely talented New York-based transgender singer – and Tom Waits but, somehow, none of that really captures it… Patrick’s music is too unique to be pigeonholed.
The dreamy and extremely placid Dubliner has, with producer Rob Ellis, managed to realize the sound he envisioned. Ellis helped him transfer his colour palette to the recording. With references that include PJ Harvey and Scott Walker, Ellis was the perfect candidate for the job: with the help of Conor O’Brien of Villagers – for whom I Have A Tribe has already had the pleasure of opening for several times – they have recorded a couple of handfuls of great tracks. And although Patrick always views music as something fleeting, something bound to the moment in which it is created – like a bird’s song – these EPs from I Have A Tribe have captured those fleeting moments to a degree and have made a one-off event relivable. So let’s hope he keeps learning – and that he lets us listen!