Moot Is an artist collective and record label from Kilkenny Ireland

Record Label

Anois, Os Ard: March In Irish Underground Music
Eoin Murray , March 21st, 2022 09:52

Eoin Murray catches up with Kilkenny’s Moot Tapes label, and spotlights psychedelic and experimental gems from across the island

A quick glance at the Bandcamp page for Kilkenny’s Moot Tapes label is enough to suck you into its strange sonic universe. Nightmarish figures and other-worldly characters adorn the covers of its 13 releases to date, alongside gnarly abstract splashes and sketches of people hugging, wrestling, hallucinating visions of God or staring bewildered over a laptop screen. Its logo depicts two creepy, cat-like creatures hanging upside down, wrapped in what could be an embrace or a fight – together, they almost take the shape of a human heart.
This mixture of the macabre with an eerie softness embodies the label’s output, which has encompassed everything from dusty breakbeat techno, doomy krautrock and twisted field recordings to crackling ambience and poetic lo-fi folk. With an ethos rooted in representing and cultivating a countrywide experimental music community, and in providing space for unique link-ups and collaborations, Moot Tapes has become a crucial platform in the Irish undergrowth since launching as a label in 2018. Co-founder Stephen Morton puts it simply: “It’s about documenting these very interesting sounds people make while they’re alive.”

Moot dates back to around 2012, originating as a leftist art and music blog. Morton, who creates all the label’s visuals, and his friend Peter Lawlor, aka the electronic music producer and DJ Replete, started hosting gigs, club nights and even a small festival under the name, and held down a monthly DJ residency at Dublin venue, The Bernard Shaw, for several years until it shut. The idea to start a label, which Morton was admittedly quite sceptical about, came as a way for Lawlor to release his more experimental and ambient leaning work. Its debut release, a split cassette with Kilkenny composer Neil Quigley laid the groundwork, with the latter’s track, ‘Death Vapour’, setting the tone for much of the label’s catalogue: disjointed thuds, warm electronic swells and concrète clicks swish about as a robotic voices repeat the track’s title.

Since, the label has championed the works of “friends and friends of friends”. From Static.’s slamming rave cuts and Claire O’Brien’s chillingly intimate songwriting to SSMMÜTT’s scrambled motorik psych and Claire Guerin and Eamon Ivri’s bristling found sound experiments, the label has developed a distinctive identity, even with the sheer amount of variety at play.
In February, Moot released its debut vinyl EP, courtesy of Howlbux (The Altered Hours’ Elaine Howley and Irene Buckley) and Muireann Levis. The first release in the label’s Signs Of Life series, these two tracks occupy a sublime space: a wavering, alien voice repeats a quiet parable over a foggy synth melody in ‘Nightfall/Over’; Levis’ vocals hover above sparse, environmental ambience in ‘Elsewhere’.

The EP’s artwork is the label’s most striking to date, and embodies the “signs of life” the series is hoping to capture: “I was thinking about axolotl and sea creatures and all these new life forms marooning up onto a beach,” says Morton. “There is a broken down sand castle that signifies the fall of empire, of real life castles and the queen and all that shite. Then there’s the final remnants of humans, cans of tenants and amber leaf. Then, buried waist high, is a kind of broken but beautiful person surviving, resurrecting. Then there is the cut off head of a landlord/capitalist in the corner and everything is happy and full of life.”

Signs Of Life: Part 2 was released on 4 March, and features two stunning tracks from Neil Quigley and Irene Buckley, taking in lush electronic beats, cavernous woodwind motifs and a jazz-inflected instrumental jam a lá Tortoise or Do Make Say Think. The plan is to release five parts of the series as a single vinyl volume in due course, but for now, there’s a killer catalogue to rummage through.