With a name aptly deriving from the old Irish for a grand master of a skill, the olllam is a Transatlantic collective of formidable talent, marrying stunning instrumental virtuosity, Irish tradition, and Detroit’s post-rock psych-sensibility. Their genre-defying compositions are lush with cyclical trance-like melodies, co-written by Belfast uilleann piper/whistle player John McSherry, his US protégé Tyler Duncan, and master-drummer Michael Shimmin, whose intricate, often complex, rhythms are then underpinned in recording by the phenomenal bass-playing genius of Joe Dart. Their 2012 eponymous debut album is now considered something of a cult classic, winning the 2012 Indie Acoustic Music Award for Best Instrumental Album.
Over the years the olllam has toured as a live collective augmented by additional master musicians and collaborators, including Dart’s Vulfpeck bandmates Theo Katzman and Woody Goss. Since the recording and release of 2022’s long-awaited follow-up album elllegy, which saw the olllam named as RTE Radio Best Group at that year’s Folk Awards, the band has featured Seán O'Meara on guitar and Joe Hettinga on keys.
Ever experimental, the olllam continues to seek out new musical alliances, which notably includes their work with Irish singer-songwriter Síomha.
the olllam place the listener somewhere between Radiohead and Planxty, or Tortoise and The Gloaming, with the ambient emotionalism of Nick Drake or Explosions in the Sky.
“… the result is described by them as Neo-Acoustic Celtic Post-Rock. I’d describe it a little differently – it’s f***in’ deadly!” - The Irish Times
"If Lúnasa set the gold standard for traditional acoustic music, these guys are bucking for platinum. The word ollam is old Irish for a master musician, and there are three master musicians here." - Irish Music Magazine
"People are heralding it as a new genre of music" - Liverpool Echo
“...there just seems to be so much soul in playing, that every track finds a way to spike the emotions and tingle the spine.” - Folk Radio UK
"It's a groovy, mystic rock sound that is your go-to Celtic music for people who think they don't like Celtic music." - The Irish Examiner
". . . an exquisite combination of virtuosic acoustic music with electric instruments. 'the olllam' is an extraordinary Irish fusion album by three masters happily at work." - World Music Central