The music of Daniel O’Sullivan plays like a haunted jukebox.
A multi-dimensional artist that successfully soundtracks our profoundly confusing 21st century
O’Sullivan’s dreampop mantras casually open up portals into other dimensions
Daniel O’Sullivan (b.1980) is a composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist living and working in South West London and has been contributing a vibrant, chameleonic brew to the experimental music landscape since the late 1990’s. He has achieved international acclaim writing, recording and performing with a myriad of groups including Grumbling Fur (with longtime friend and collaborator Alexander Tucker), Ulver, Mothlite, Sunn O))), Guapo, Miasma & the Carousel of Headless Horses, Miracle (with Steve Moore from Pittsburgh based progressive synth duo Zombi), Æthenor (featuring Stephen O’Malley, Kristoffer Rygg and Steve Noble) and This Is Not This Heat. He has composed several sound works for film and installation and has recently composed two archival collections for the legendary KPM imprint.
DOS collages a wide range of musical disciplines and has collaborated with a number of artists including several live performances and recordings with ‘continuous music’ pioneer Charlemagne Palestine and large scale surround sound/AV installations with Turner prize-nominee Mark Titchner. As well as playing and recording several albums with Norwegian experimental metal group Ulver and occasionally donning the robe with Sunn O))), O’Sullivan has been at the core of the wildly successful reincarnation of This Heat as a live entity.
Whether solo or in his varied collaborative projects, O’Sullivan’s work is remarkable in the way it infuses familiar everyday experience with traces of the uncanny, the secret and the magickal. His 2017 solo album VELD distils these tangled realities into a rich and complex soundworld— strikingly dense and allusive, alive with enticing sonic diversions, hypnotic mantras and ornately arranged songcraft. While grounded in pop form — which O’Sullivan describes as the ideal vessel for channelling celestial energies — its dreamlike soundworld draws inspiration from across both natural and human landscapes. Its influences range from Ray Bradbury (whose story ‘The Veldt’ inspired the album’s title) and D.H Lawrence to Jorge Luis Borges and Leonora Carrington; the Nordic Fjords and Amazonian jungle to Tottenham Cemetery and Streatham Common; Van Dyke Parks and Judee Sill to Coil and Cocteau Twins.
Folly is O’Sullivan’s second album under his own name and embodies a confident evolution from his acclaimed debut VELD (2017, O Genesis), an album which distilled the multiverse into a rich and complex soundworld; textured and allusive, alive with sonic diversions, hypnotic mantras and ornately arranged songcraft.
Folly was written around the birth of his son Ari and the passing of his friend Ian Johnstone, and both events were significant in the album that followed. O’Sullivan explains, “Joy is inseparable from suffering and sometimes those polarities arrive at the same moment. Music offers a vessel to contain the unspeakable.”
This cycle of twelve songs deftly illustrates O’Sullivan’s ascent as a unique and multidimensional songwriter. Moving from the familiar pantheon of experimental music and arriving upon a universal narrative probing the human condition from the inside out. Both lyrically and within the intricate lattice of arrangements, traditional forms are reshaped into transcendent pop symphonies. Both intimate and alien, archetypal and atypical, joyous and melancholic, the aperture of Folly is wide open and light streams in.
O’Sullivan explains the solo writing process, “Writing songs alone can take some time even if a song arrives fully formed in your mind. The execution of it involves long durations with each individual part of the arrangement until it reaches something concise. The song tells you what it needs and I try not to force ideas onto it.” and goes on to say, “These songs are outside in rather than inside out, there was always a latency between the birth of the song and my understanding of its purpose. Folly is looking at who is doing the shaping, most of these songs are about writing songs.”
Folly was recorded and mixed by Thighpaulsandra (Coil, Julian Cope Band,
Spiritualized) at his Aeriel studio premises in Wales and mastered by Matt Colton at Alchemy. Written mostly in London, O’Sullivan explains the inspiration for the title, “There’s a folly of a medieval abbey in these gardens that surround where I live. My family and I spend a lot of time roaming around there, amongst the frogs, foxes, mushrooms, owls, and the many strange introduced plants and trees. It was landscaped to be a rabbit hole sort of place.”
Releases by Daniel O’Sullivan
- The Air St. Evignne
- Under The Knife
- Time Elapsing Blue
- Honour Wave
- Air Tunes
- The Diamond Vehicle
- Penny Rag
- The Coming Of Age Story
- The Pendulum
- Scorpio Rising Blues
- The Swimmer
- The Many Are We
- Doe a Deer
- HC SVNT DRACONES
- Luminous Fibres
- Sabotage Devices
- Be Honour You
- The Projector
- Plants I-VII