Cormorant Tree Oh is the current alias of Mary Keane, a multi-disciplinary artist and musician from Dublin. Through her work, Mary seeks to entwine the worlds of music and visual art with the aim of creating a distinct world from her own imagination. Back in 2018, Mary released the self-titled debut Cormoran Tree Oh record, alongside a series of accompanying illustrations. Four years on Mary is teaming up with Trapped Animal Records for the release of her second album, Swoontide. Ahead of the record’s release later this month, Mary is premiering the latest track from it, We Are Fruiting Bodies.
Swoontide is something of an audio diary for Mary, a collection of ideas recorded to a laptop over a number of years as they came to mind. During this period she also made a conscious decision to change the way she approached writing. While her debut was written with only the recorded form in mind, at least partly the result of chronic stage fright, this time around she harboured a desire to play these tracks live. The result, as showcased on We Are Fruiting Bodies, is not a watering down of the recorded form though, instead by keeping the prospect of performance in mind her music takes on a newfound urgency, the sound of an artist thriving within self-enforced boundaries.
The track begins with a typically experimental flourish, the listener greeted with an array of descending electronics that slowly give way to a more traditional song structure, Mary’s Bat For Lashes-like layered vocals accompanied by a stringed instrument, possibly a Balalaika or a Mandolin, which runs throughout the track. Around the song’s core structure, we’re treated to an ever-shifting assortment of sound, be it warped found-sound, electronics or occasional percussive thumps. While somewhat oblique, the lyrics seem to run on threads of creation and death, the idea we come from nothing and eventually return to it, the fruiting bodies of the opening verse coming to terms with the inescapability of an ending, “dissolve we must, back into the blackness from whence we thrust”.
On Swoontide, Cormorant Tree Oh feels like a project finding its truest form, where previously intriguing, here there’s a drive, a sense of pieces falling into place and the beauty lurking underneath coming into sharp focus. From the natural world to horror films, from folk music to the sound of her mother’s washing machine, Cormorant Tree Oh has that rare ability to make you see the world through her eyes, and it looks pretty fabulous to me.