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Dublin, Ireland | Established. Jan 01, 1996 | SELF

Dublin, Ireland | SELF
Established on Jan, 1996
Solo EDM Dark Wave




"Past Irish Press"

“Of Pattern and Purpose is simply spellbinding”
Metro June 07

“Somadrone, one of Irelands most fascinating avant garde composers”
Galway Advertiser June 07

“Detachment that we find in Steve Reich or Brian Eno circa Music for Airports”
Hot Press June 07

“Of Pattern and Purpose is a collection of blissfully slow-motion, deeply anchored bleeps”
Irish Times 07

“Suggestions of Ambient Aphex Twin or the Atmospheric soundscapes of Mum. Nevertheless, the results are often beautiful”
Irish Times 0ct 05

“This sees him tentatively emerging as an Irish arranger of note”
Foggy Notions 0ct 05

“There is really no excuse not to pick this beauty up”
Event Guide 05

“Influence of Autobhan-era Kraftwerk, very drony, very good”
Galway Examiner Nov 05 - Misc

"Somadrone = Oracle"

As a roaming member of Redneck Manifesto, Neil O’Connor dips into propulsive, instrumental alt-rock now and again, but there’s a strong sense that Somadrone and the music created under that moniker is his safe harbour.
Previous albums Depth of Field and The First Wave were greeted with enthusiastic strokes of the chin, and we can see Oracle being on the receiving end of similar appraisals, even though it’s a noticeable recalibration of O’Connor’s creative approaches.
Tracks such as Caustic City and the title tune take a sparser route to their logical conclusions, and while the vocals aren’t always the ideal accompaniment, there is much pleasure to be gained from O’Connor’s forays into disco, house and musique concrete.
Overall, it amounts to a subtle triumph of technique and talent. - Irish Times

"Somadrone - Oracle"

Looking back it’s hard to deny that Redneck Manifesto and its members’ various solo exploits stand as some of the more intriguing Irish records of the last decade. Records like I Am Brazil and Friendship have stood the test of time, Richie Egan’s Jape have been putting out some truly excellent music as demonstrated on Ritual and Somadrone’s AKA Neil O’Connor 2013 effort The First Wave was an Eno-inflected classic in waiting. Waiting two years to provide the follow-up, Somadrone has quietly released his latest LP, Oracle, and as to be expected from such stock as this, it’s very bloody good.

The sound of the Oracle is that of nightclubbing. O’Connor has been open about the influence of disco and acid house on the sound of this record and it shows throughout. Nested deep in the sound are all the trappings of very good house music. When it needs to, it knows how to get you moving in the exact right manner, be it via a 1980s-style synthesizer and electronic beats (‘Caustic City’) or via a slightly tripper, grimey route as is the case in ‘Life Support’. That’s not to say the Eno or David Sylvian influences have been diminished. They’re still very much present as this thin veneer of ambience runs through the undercurrent of every single song. It’s in this undercurrent that O’Connor lets a certain level of melancholy run wild. These senses carry throughout the entire album, lending it this slightly more poignant and affecting tone.

Consider ‘The Swimmer’, with its gently strummed acoustic guitar providing the main musical drive, creating this sense of isolation and longing. The track spends more than half its runtime manufacturing this feeling before letting its release come in the form of an expansive booming bass. A track like ‘Sight.Insight’ manages something similar. It begins with gentle, pensive piano that sounds like it could have come from one of the more bitter cuts from Amy Winehouse’s Frank. Using this as a bedrock, the tracks rises and falls with a multitude of voices and harmonies that carry with them this very deep sense of woe. It’s beautiful and adds a great deal to an already good record. This format reaches its zenith with the album closer and lead single ‘Invitation’. The track, which brings in Richie Egan to fill out the sound and add a welcome new voice, works on the same structure as the previous songs; starts small and gets progressively bigger and more audacious. In the case of ‘Invitation’, the crescendo of the track is what the album seems to be building towards and its appearance does round off the whole record rather nicely. While this similarity in song structure is definitely a flaw in the record, the quality of the songs more than makes up for it. It’s a very good record of danceable tracks with flicks of ambience and unrepentant melancholy. Another welcome addition to an already excellent catalogue. - Thin Air Magazine (Belfast)

"Redbull Music Interview"

Having spent several years living Stateside, Dubliner Neil O'Connor – aka Somadrone – is back on Irish shores and continuing to release top class electronic music. We caught up with him recently to get the lowdown on his fifth album 'Oracle', working with his Rednecks Manifesto colleague Richie Egan (Jape), and his plans for the future.

You were initially known for your role in hugely respected instrumental rock band Redneck Manifesto – were bands your first passion when it came to your formative experiences with music?

Yeah, I started playing in bands very early – probably around 12 or 13, I'd say. I actually ended up finding cassette tapes of early demo recordings, and that music's even weirder than what I make now (laughs). It was hilarious – the most diverse music that I made came when I was 12 or 13. Then I started doing stuff on the side, just home recordings, I suppose – and that turned into the Somadrone project around 1996 or 1997.

How did the Somadrone sound develop?

I started getting involved in synthesiser music around that time, so it just grew from there, I suppose. I also studied music, so there's two sides to the coin. I did Master's in Music Tech in Trinity, then I did a PhD in Music in Trinity, so I kind of broke my brain a little bit doing that. I was trying to steer myself away from making that sort of music - although I still make a lot of electro-acoustic music under my own name – but I get to go to conferences and universities and that sort of thing, which is quite cool. If I get bored of the Somadrone thing, I can just dip into three or four other things that I've involved with at the moment.

Given your career in music academia, was it ever your intention to do anything else for a living?

Well, I studied film for four years and tried my hand at directing, actually. I made a couple of shorts and videos, but nothing of worth, I suppose. But it was funny because when I started doing that, I got into soundtracks and got into playing keyboards. So that film degree had a big impact with the sort of ambient music I began making.

'Oracle' is your fifth album. When did it start coming together?

I guess a lot of sketches were developed around the time of 'The First Wave' [2013]; I'd say about four of the songs were already in place. I also had Simon Cullen, who plays as Lasertom, mix the album and it was really interesting working with him because he really put a different twist on my sound. Then it was mastered by Dunk Murphy, who plays as Sunken Foal. So I had two people who were good friends of mine involved very heavily in the album and I think that distorted the sound of the album a little bit – it made it sound like something I wouldn't have produced. They added their own ingredients to it, which made it a bit more special.

Another old friend, Richie Egan of Jape, provides vocals on the album track 'Invitation'.

I've been trying to get him involved for a good while. I think Richie is number one in Ireland, certainly in terms of electronic music. We've been good friends for a very long time and we're bandmates; he's just got a really gifted kind of sound and I just wanted it to be part of the album. He lives in Sweden now so it's hard for him to collaborate for anymore than half a day, but I think it was really effective.

Was it your aim to capture anything in particular, in terms of the album's theme?

Not necessarily. I think the thing about electronic music is that it's not necessary to impart what the theme is – it's open to interpretation, more dreamlike. I like to treat the voice as just another instrument; I don't see it as a soapbox, or anything like that. I treat it with electronic textures, very much the same thing as I do with a drum machine or a keyboard. So no, there's no political messages or anything like that (laughs).

Your sound has been compared to the likes of Brian Eno and Philip Glass in the past – what was the biggest musical influence on 'Oracle'?

I definitely try to have a look around and see what's out there, but I'm a bit of a curmudgeon in the sense that I kind of go backwards, in terms of electronic music history. Philip Glass was definitely an influence on earlier albums, but 'The First Wave' and 'Oracle' were very much disco and darkwave-based. I really got into electronic music from Germany and France from the 1970s. There's not many drum machines on Depth of Field, it's more band-based – and that was what I was going for and listening to at the time; 1960s psychedelic folk music and so on. I think 'Oracle' takes its sound from listening to acid house, minimal wave, coldwave sort of stuff. That era of European synthesiser music from the 1980s.

How do you feel the Irish electronic music scene is doing at the moment? You're an elder statesman of Irish electronica at this point!

Yeah, I feel like it (laughs). I think I'm haggard by the experience – I still feel young, though. When I started out, there weren't that many people making electronic music. Now, it's really healthy and there's lots of really cool stuff around. But again, I am that hermit curmudgeon guy who doesn't have a clue what's really happening in the Irish music scene that much – apart from friends of mine who make music; people like I Am the Cosmos, Lasertom, New Jackson, Jape and that sort of stuff. It's terrible, really. I should really be more involved and go to see new up and coming stuff, but the haggardness of 18 years takes its toll. I kind of sit at home and light the stove, mostly, and hang out with my cat. That's a pretty good Friday night for me (laughs).

In that respect, what are your ambitions for the future?

I'm always trying to challenge myself with different projects and ideas. I have an ambient project on the go and release that stuff online via Scintilla Recordings. I have started another act with friends of mine, and we've been developing songs for the last six, seven months. It's great because I miss that communal feel of playing with other people; it's very boring being an electronic music producer, because you work by yourself a lot. So yeah – there's definitely a couple of projects coming up that are going to change that. I'm yearning to go back to the 'Depth of Field'-style piano with vocals and electronica territory, rather than the 4/4 banging stuff. There's only so much of that stuff you can get away with. It's all about keeping it interesting for yourself, really.

'Oracle' is out now. - Redbull


1. Oracle  - Scintilla Recordings - LP / Digital  - 2015

2. The First Wave - Bodytonic  - LP / Digital - 2013

3. Depth of Field - Skinny Wolves Records - LP/Digital/Cassette - 2010

4. Fuzzing Away to a Whisper - Trust me i'm a thief Records - CD/Digital - 2005

5. Of Pattern and Purpose - Trust me i'm a theif Records - CD/Digital - 2007

6. 10" e.p - Mango Music - LP - 1999



Irish Producer Somadrone has been making electronic music since 1997. His is also a member of The Redneck Manifesto and Jape. Compared to the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian and Brian Eno, a typical Somadrone production incorporates analogue drum machines, synthesizers, guitar and vocals that results in cross pollinating, genre-less, electronic sound-scapes.