With the 30th anniversary of their first gig – in front of three people in the Baggott Inn round the corner, it’s tempting to consider Kíla one of the great untold stories in Irish music. Sure, many State readers will have seen them live at some point, or probably own an album or two, yet their continued global adventures and success in the world of soundtracks remains largely unheralded. Yet their cottage industry has thrived through a large number of projects, both recorded and literary. What they perhaps need now is an album to jolt the wider world into deserved appreciation.
Well, what do you know. Suas Síos is a record of such scope, such vision, such quality that it might just prove the pinnacle of their long career so far. The title track barrels along at such a pace that you’re almost caught off guard, the band swapping vocals lines and brewing up a storm of traditional instruments in a style reminiscent of a Celtic ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. A hard kicking opening, it seems as though the eight piece are on a mission. As is producer (and former member) Karl Odlum, who has conjured up all sorts of magic from their various and varied contributions.
All of which means there are moments that – were they to replace the pipes and fiddle with electric guitars – wouldn’t sound out of place on a And So I Watch You From Afar or Overhead The Albatross record. In fact, there are elements of the Kíla sound to be found across the Irish musical landscape. ‘Am’ and ‘Length Of Space’ have am ambient beauty that the electronic set would be proud of and it’s hard not to draw comparisons between the increasing number of Irish emcees and Rónán Ó Snodaigh’s quickfire vocal delivery. Add in elements of Arabic and African music, plus even a unexpected way with a pop melody (‘Abair’) and you have an album – and a band – that is gloriously unique. Long may they continue.