Five old school friends from Waterford, Alan Comerford, Brendan Fennessy Paul Savage, Phil Christie and Richie Walsh, grew up playing together in various bands, with diverse musical tastes they discovered the records they collectively, grew to love.
O Emperor emerged with debut long-player “Hither Thither” in 2010, a record of immense depth and far-reaching confidence, it was received with lavish praise from fans and critics alike it was one of ten shortlisted for the prestigious Choice Music Prize Irish Album of the Year. Since then, O Emperor who have a phenomenal reputation for their performances have shared the stage with the likes of MGMT, Spoon and Villagers, performed at a range of Festivals including SXSW, Benicassim, Electric Picnic and Longitude. A special arrangement of the song “Sedalia” was commissioned for performance with the RTE Concert Orchestra and received praise from Rolling Stone, NPR World Cafe, Artrocker, BBC 6, Hot Press, The Times and many more.
While debut album “Hither Thither” could be described as a lush tapestry displaying a classical use of depth and shading, their second album “Vitreous” shortlisted for the 2013 Choice Music Prize, is more like a stark, multi-coloured and pixelated piece of pop art. Heavily distorted drums take their place alongside syrupy analogue synths and disgusting fuzz guitars sounding like bees buzzing inside tin cans. Beautiful landscapes are destroyed with disparate, abrasive sounds, perverse displays of artistic self-destruction.
Recorded at Big Skin HQ, the base for the band’s label operations, their DIY studio was (literally) built from the ground up with everything from label administration to recording happening inside its grubby, fire-stained walls. “Vitreous” was entirely produced/recorded by the band, affording much time for them to play around with old synthesisers and other strange pieces of equipment lying around. The nine songs on the record represent a fraction of the ideas explored in over fifty demo recordings undertaken in the studio in the year the album was recorded. No qualified sound engineer was present, allowing the band’s whims for making things sound “wrong” to slip through the net. Clocking in at just over 29 minutes, the record is striking for its sense of economy and directness. More remarkable still is the fact that within this half hour of music, such a broad musical spectrum is taken in, snippets of Kraut minimalism, 70s/80s glam/art rock maximalism, freak balladry, Prog noodling and electronic flights of fancy.
2014 saw the band spending lots of time in Big Skin HQ writing, experimenting and demoing. In January 2015 they unleashed highly anticipated new music leading off with “Switchblade” a track from their EP “Lizard” released in March 2015. Innovative as ever O Emperor added another string to their self-sufficiency with the production of a video for “Switchblade” storyboarded by the band and animated and produced by Paul Savage.
Lizard’ like its predecessor, ‘Vitreous’, is an entirely self-recorded affair, these latest recordings coming about over the space of a week’s jamming at the band’s , “Big Skin HQ” in Cork City. The EP signals somewhat of a loosening of belt buckles and inhibitions. The reckless nature of the approach is audible throughout and the result is something truly bombastic; an unapologetic embrace of all that is garish and gaudy.
“A band which consistently impresses and surprises with each bold step forward”
Today FM – Paul McLoone
“The sheer variety of influences and styles present makes Vitreous an absorbing listen…..Where they go from here, is anyone’s guess but you will want to be with them for the journey”
Irish Independent – Albums of the year
“The Waterford band’s debut, Hither Thither, will one day be re-evaluated as one of the best Irish debuts of all time. On their follow-up (now minus the major label backing), O Emperor again artfully display complete originality, ever-progressing creativity and plain old fashioned musical brilliance.”
Irish Times – Albums of the year – 4*