Why We’re Enchanted By Angkorwat’s ‘Exploited Pop Songs’

Based in Dublin, one-woman-Cambodian-temple-fancier Niamh Corcoran is Angkorwat. A trained classical violinist, she left the strings to one side in favour of ‘starting from square one’. Using her Mac laptop keys as a keyboard and not a lot else, Angkorwat was formed.

Photo: Cait Fahey

That’s not to say that she’s abandoned her roots entirely. Says Corcoran, “A certain amount of traditionalism is useful if you know how to exploit it”. ‘Exploited pop songs’? That sounds about right – think John Maus remixing Au Revoir Simone. Mysterious, cigarette-smoke skeletons of songs shake hands with eerie banshee keening – Corcoran creates a Bateau Ivre of sound, slowly sinking and marvelling towards the abyss.

Angkorwat’s list of influences is evocative – Stendhal Syndrome, mothers and daughters, long wave Radio Atlantic 252, synesthesia and remorse, and reflective of her live shows. Corcoran stands, or sits cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by computers, cables and synths. Behind her, flickering images lick at a projector. Senses swirl in and out of the room, while synth loops wrap themselves around necks and hearts. And sometimes there’s an interpretative dancer. But the less said about that the better.

What does the future hold for AngkorNiamh? Well, there’s a hold-in-your-hands record in the new year, though she remains unsigned. But before that there’s a release on web-label Rack and Ruin. And, if you’re lucky enough to live round Dublin way, she’s playing at Filmbase in Templebar with Children Under Hoof on the 24th of October. In other news, she’s also featured on the Wire’s October compilation. As a man. Oh dear. Mystery has its downsides.

If you’re hungry for more, Niamh has been kind enough to offer NME.com readers an MP3 snack. Click here to download ‘Sink’.