City of Walls - 2003
It's becoming increasingly difficult to locate his earlier works, due to their being somewhat of a curse on his record labels (anyone who's carried his first CD, Nahoo, has seemingly gone under without a trace), but it's worth it. Paul Mounsey combines the ancient hymns and melodies of Ireland and Scotland with the groove-infused percussion of his adopted homeland, Brazil. It's simply astonishing how well these two worlds collide.
Paul has worked primarily in advertising and television, providing music for directors such as Tony Scott, Michael Shapiro, Paul Giraud, Dariusz Wolski and Hugh Johnson, and other artists including Michael Nyman, Etta James, Chico Buarque, and Jimmy Cliff. It's difficult to write a great deal about Mounsey himself, as very little information is really known about him and he has had a tendency to stay in the shadows for much of his career, letting the music speak for itself. However, we do know that in his spare time, he composes chamber music, lectures on film scores, and writes about music, cinema, and literature in the Brazillian cultural magazine Bravo!. He remains a relatively active member in Scottish cultural societies "back home" as well as those in his newfound residence of Brazil.
Perhaps it's my irish/scottish heritage, or the way he can combine instruments from such diametrically-opposed cultures, but Mounsey's work has struck a chord in me since the first time I heard it. Nahoo is nearly perfect from start to finish, Nahoo Too only slightly less so. It is unfortunate that Notes From the Republic suffers from so much "filler"--but that is not to say that it lacks any moments of beauty. His latest, City of Walls, is perhaps his most even work to date; all the tracks are quite good, but few are truly exceptional ("Work Song" being a major exception, and one of the most stirring pieces I've ever heard). However, this artist is heartily recommended without reservation, and with every possible accolade I can bestow. For all his failings, he has still managed to create some of the most beautiful world music I've heard.