Roisin Murphy is an Irish electronic music singer/songwriter and producer, who started her musical career as one half of the duo Moloko with her then-boyfriend Mark Brydon. Although she had been doing some collaborations as a solo artist towards the end of Moloko’s run, and with release of her debut effort Ruby Blue in 2005, Murphy became known as an a rather inventive artist – the sort of artist whose work incorporated elements of jazz, pop and other genes, as well as samples and found sounds of ornaments, dancing, ornaments and other everyday objects. And although the album was largely a commercial failure, it was critically applauded across the blogosphere for its unique sound.
in 2007, Murphy released her sophomore solo effort, Overpowered, which was considered for nomination for the MTV Europe Music Award for Best International Act but unfortunately never made the short list. Over the last few years, Murphy has released a number of singles and collaborations with the likes of Fatboy Slim, David Byrne, Crookers, and several others. And last year, Murphy released the Mi Senti EP, which was a collaboration with her frequent collaborator Eddie Stevens and her partner Sebastiano Propezi and had her singing covers in Italian. Reportedly, the material on Mi Senti channeled Edith Piaf and Studio 54 in what Murphy publicity coined “very adult-orientated disco."
May 12 will mark the first full-length release from Murphy in over 8 years, Hairless Toys. And much like the Mi Senti EP, Hairless Toys reportedly draws from similar influences – in particular European house music, Casablanca Records, and the legendary Grace Jones. However, on the album’s opening (and first) single "Gone Fishing” those influences seem at best subtle; in fact, after playing the song a number of times (as I often do before and as I’m writing posts), the song to my ears bears an uncanny resemblance to a somewhat obscure Prince track – “Thieves in the Temple” because of its sparse, effortless sleekness and seductive nature. But unlike that Prince track, “Gone Fishing” is comprised of synths that cascade at weird angles and oddly syncopated rhythms that make the song seem equally inspired by math rock and jazz.
After reading an article which on the gay and transgender Black and Latino influence on House music, which referenced the documentary film, Paris Is Burning, Murphy watched the film, and was moved by the film’s chronicle of the “Ball” culture they had created in the 80s – and how it was a haven for people who society had openly perceived and ridiculed as freaks and outcasts. Much like the movie, the song explores the concept of home and belonging – and what it means through the viewpoint and lens of an outcast. And as a result, the song possess a desperate longing for something that is both known and unfamiliar, necessary and yet fraught with problems. It’s the very human longing at the heart of the song that’s so particularly haunting and affecting.