Insufficient Funs at 12 Points: Cormac Larkin on this year’s Irish representatives
Cormac Larkin of the Irish Times and director of Hatch 21 Productions has joined the 12 Points team once again for the yearly production of the 12 Points documentary. Cormac has worked closely with each of the musicians throughout the week, from soundcheck to stagetime to the post concert jam sessions. Given his extensive knowledge of the Irish music scene, we were delighted to hear his thoughts on this year's Irish representatives Insufficient Funs:
Insufficient Funs @ 12 Points
Dublin duo Insufficient Funs turned in a confident, enthralling set last night in the gilt-edged splendour of the Victoria-Eugenia theatre here in Donostia-San Sebastián. One of the strengths of this unique wandering festival, now in its tenth year, is its scrupulous horizontality: every 12 Points artist gets the off-stage respect and technical attention of a headline act, and all twelve get equal billing and stage time. In that spirit, I have always tried to accept each act on its own terms and - working on the festival (I am lucky enough to be here to document the four-day event on video) - you can’t help but feel supportive of all 12acts. But perhaps I can be forgiven a brief moment of partisan pride as this new Irish duo delivered a robust defence of the ever-improving, ever diverging creative music scene in Ireland.
Over the last decade, we have seen dozens of frequently weird and often wonderful groups from all over Europe come to Dublin and give local musicians a wake-up call with something fresh and new. Now we were seeing an Irish group come to Spain and do the same. Drummer Matt Jacobson and bass-saxophonist Sam Comerford took the open-minded audience in this glitzy city’s glitziest palace of culture on a journey into a new acoustic space with a refined, pared-down language of tone and groove. It required some concentration to tune in to the duo’s wavelength, but once you grasped its grammar, the music revealed itself, moving seamlessly between gnarly grooves and loose, open textured freedom, using simple ‘compositions’ - some of them just a few bars long - as starting points for adventures at the outer reaches of music. And though the instrumentation may be exotic, Insufficient Funs is no gimmick. The entire auditory spectrum of the human ear is called on when drums and bass saxophone meet, and from the glorious bottom end of Sam Comerford’s enormous horn (there’s just no polite way to say that) to the fizzling overtones of Matt Jacobson’s cymbals, no stereocilium was left undisturbed. Risks were being taken, ideas were passing back and forth, and new music was happening in the moment - you can’t ask for more than that.
Insufficient Funs is still a new project. If they stick with it, Jacobson and Comerford may well look back on their early gigs as incubators of a wider concept. But it was a more than promising start, and that is what 12 Points is all about.