Cuar is an Irish chamber music ensemble led by Neil Ó Loclainn (Ensemble Ériu, Dave Flynn’s Irish Memory Orchestra, Louis Stewart). The project explores composition and improvisation within the framework of Irish traditional music, playing new music written especially for the group. Citing influences as varied as Tommy Potts, Tony MacMahon, sean-nós singing and uilleann pipe music, on the one hand; and the Karnatic (South Indian) music tradition, composers Morton Feldman, Bela Bartok and downtown Jazz on the other, the music disavows the idea of genre to create a boundary less style rich in melodic detail. Together they forge a unique sound world which establishes a new, distinctly Irish, creative chamber music language.
In April 2017 they released their debut album Roscanna on Raelach Records. The album is a 5 movement suite in specular structure composed and arranged by Ó Loclainn (double bass, flute) which also features the unique talents of Matthew Berrill (clairinet) and Aoife Ní Bhriain (fiddle) two of Ireland’s most exciting and accomplished young musicians.
“ear-craningly beautiful missive from the new post-genre frontier”
★★★★ The Irish Times
"toes the line between dancing and mourning, moving by force of experience through hints of tradition while leaning into winds of untethered expression"
Tyran Grillo, Rootsworld
“As a trio of contemporary musicians, Cuar are suggesting a very interesting curved path around an already thriving and living tradition. Seamlessly blending written with improvised sections while recording all tracks in one take brings a palpable edge to an album which should be listened to as if the music was heard for the first time, “with a child’s new mind”
Guillaume Janssen, Spellbinding Music
“quite different from most Irish music, and perhaps all the more interesting for that”
“The album’s influences are assimilated so beautifully by this approach that it’s all so organic in how it weaves its spell on the listener. One is being entertained and entranced, but also stimulated enormously by this music, if you really listen”.
Bernard Clarke, The Blue of the Night, RTÉ Lyric FM
Roscanna “exerts an unyielding grip from the first note to the last of these softly rendered magic spells”
Ian Patterson, All About Jazz