Members of Lankum and Percolator join Katie Kim on the most astonishing surprise package of the year
By Éamon Sweeney
You wouldn’t expect the first release on the newly revived Claddagh Records label to be a startling collection of experimental doom folk, but sometimes nothing sounds better than an assumption getting crushed. Øxn are a bewitching quartet featuring the Lankum frontwoman Radie Peat, Katie Kim, and Spud Murphy and Eleanor Myler of Percolator, who radically rework folk into new shapes and sounds.
This daring six-track debut (whose name is pronounced sy-rum), which grew out of a collaboration between Peat and Katie Kim for Nollaig na mBan, was recorded in a Martello tower in Dalkey and at Hellfire Studio in the Dublin mountains, both locations where Lankum forged their majestic Mercury Prize-nominated album False Lankum.
One day, that tower might become as famous for Irish music as Sandycove’s Joyce Tower is for Irish literature. The elements even get a role in the proceedings, as on The Feast you can hear a howling gale at the Hellfire.
The first track, Cruel Mother, features the unmistakeable voice of Radie Peat singing in a sean-nós style before transforming into a darkly mysterious folk song with shades of The Rip, Portishead’s classic gothic folktronica single. It revisits an appalling time for women, when having a child outside marriage was criminalised and mental-health issues were dismissed as demonic.