This is a long exposure photograph of Cian Nugent and his band playing in Whelans last Saturday night. Cian is a guitar player and composer from Dublin who has recently released his debut album, Doubles. His playing playing falls very much into the John Fahey tradition and he combines this with elaborate instrumentation and arrangements to produce long instrumental pieces that have a lot in common with some of Jim O’Rourke’s work. It’s great stuff and recently scored a rave review on the massively influential US website Pitchfork. Such things don’t necessarily translate into audience numbers though as Whelans was pretty quiet last Saturday – then again, it’s pretty hard to compete when Prince is playing across town.
Cian’s compositions are very, very long; Doubles consists of just two lengthy pieces. After playing a short number with a stripped down version of the band he proceeded to launch into one of these pieces, Sixes and Sevens. I knew this was going to be long but nevertheless stuck with the usual procedure of opening the shutter at the start of the song and closing it at the end. Surprisingly it turned out pretty well. I’ve written already about how really long exposure times are possible in these situations – doubling the normal exposure length only adds one stop of exposure and in practice it’s even less than that because of reciprocity failure – but I have never before now tried extending it to half an hour. In the end it was 31 minutes and 4 seconds before they hit the final note.
Here’s a video, made by Dylan Phillips, of an extract of the Sixes and Sevens piece that the band are playing in the photograph above.