Where is that Batallón de San Patricio Groove?
For this lunchtime concert, the duo -ence (Paul Stapleton and Ricki O’Rawe) are joined by Conor McAuley in an improvised performance dedicated to the ghosts of the Batallón de San Patricio, a group of disenfranchised European (largely Irish) immigrants and African slaves who defected from the United States Army to fight on the side of the Mexican Army during the Mexican–American War of 1846–48. The battalion has been memorialised by a broad range of musicians, novelists and filmmakers. These accounts provide stories of cultural resonances in the lives of diverse peoples, unlikely collectives who formed allegiances through their shared oppression at the hands of dominant imperialist powers. Our storytelling here is similar, but also different. While we are interested in resonances, allegiances, and points of connection that form moments of tense but productive co-existences between different communities, we are likewise drawn towards the precarious, noisy and uncertain material processes enacted in such meetings. Thus, we seek a kind of dissensual groove, an oscillation between distance and relation, remixing fragments from Irish and Mexican folk and popular music traditions into ever-collapsing rhythmic architectures, creating spaces in which to move.
Ricki O’Rawe is a Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies at Queen’s University Belfast. His research explores the intersections of art with politics and religion in Latin American visual and literary cultures. As a musician, he has toured and recorded with groups across different genres, most recently with Not Squares (Yeah OK, 2011; Bolts, 2015) and -ence (Dissensual Grooves, 2021).
Paul Stapleton is a musician originally from California. He performs with a variety of modular metallic sound sculptures, custom made electronics and found objects in settings ranging from Echtzeitmusik venues in Berlin to the annual NIME conference. Paul is currently Professor of Music at SARC, Queen’s University Belfast, where he researches the design and exploration of new musical instruments, often in improvisational contexts.
Belfast-based drummer/composer Conor McAuley skirts the borders of free improvisation, experimental Irish traditional music, alt post-punk music, and human-computer interaction. Drawing inspiration from elements of consciousness and experience, cognitive science and enactivism, he is currently undertaking a practice-led PhD at Queen’s University Belfast, titled ‘Musical Pathways: Exploring bodily movement in improvised drumming’.