" Spectacular... highly charged... deeply expressive" -The Irish Times reviews


in brief

Like their landscapes the music of Ireland and Scandinavia are spectacular; inspiring; and very different to each other.

Northern Lights connects the folklore and folk music from the furthest shores of the great expanses of the North Sea.  It poses the question “what parts of the traditional music repertoire is personal and local, and what parts are universal?

In connecting a vast musical landscape which evokes everything between the ice of the North Sea and the warmth of Irish summer pastures,  it finds striking resonances in these unique traditional repertoires.

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from the album




" Spectacular... highly charged... deeply expressive" -The Irish Times "Outstanding disk" -Newfolksounds "intriguing. ...a brilliantly listenable and stimulating musical experience ...timeless and gently epic... mesmerising" -The Living Tradition "Masterpiece. Defies reviewers in the best possible way" -Folkradio "Marvelous... top quality. Definitely one of the best Celtic influenced albums from 2011" - Folkworld

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describing northern lights

Northern Lights is a blending of Norse and Irish: sagas, stories, soundscapes, cultural flavours and perspectives, through a meeting of their music and songs. It is a project of Lorcán Mac Mathúna (voice, whistle), Raphael De Cock (voice, pipes, Siberian harp, shrutti, hardanger fiddle, jews harp), and Rémi Decker (pipes, guitar, low whistle).

With Northern Lights, De Cock and Mac Mathúna, backed by the percussive guitar of Decker, have found extraordinary similarities in how themes that are common to all people (superstition, exile, and lament of the dead, for instance) are expressed in Ireland and Scandinavia. In fact these expressions of the human condition are so fundamentally visceral that we recognise them instantly regardless of language.

They have found resonant touchstones in the musical sounds of traditions separated by language and distance, and have created a “mesmerising” dialogue with them. They have managed to create a soundscape which conveys the local and the universal at once.


So what! What is so special about Northern Lights?

Northern Lights explores the idea of the universality of music  by contrasting Traditional Irish music and Ireland’s oldest singing style, Sean Nós, with Scandinavian musical traditions and singing styles. It sets up a dialogue between the traditional music repertoires of these traditions; a loric colloquy, an interlocking dialogue of verse, which transcends language barriers with the language of musical tone and colour and emotional depth.

Inspired by the reconstruction of a 1000 year old Viking longboat (the Havhingsten fra Glendalough, or the Sea Stallion); which was originally built in Dublin and scuttled in Roskilde, Denmark, in the 10th Century; this group explores possible influences and shared stories between the traditional cultures of both worlds. Worlds that were once linked in an age of longships, raids, and trade.