A few years ago, Jeremy Hickey was merely the modest sticksman in Kilkenny band Blue Ghost (no, you won't have heard of them). These days, if the rumours are to be believed, he's one of the most innovative and astonishing Irish musicians around. The fact that he performs solo with a 'virtual band' projected onto a screen, Gorillaz-style, doesn't harm his reputation as a trendsetter-of-sorts; but then again, neither does his debut solo offering under his Rarely Seen Above Ground pseudonym.
Comprised of two discs – the main album and a bonus disc containing mostly instrumental doodles – Organic Sampler is, quite simply, an extraordinary record. The depth of scope and enterprise is palpable on every track; from the powerful, bleak opener Counting Down to the trim groove of Talk Back Crawl Back and the lithe squall of The Climb, there's a sense that Hickey is constantly striving to create something never heard by human ears before. While he doesn't quite succeed on that front – his influences (primarily Joy Division and Talking Heads) are paraded audaciously, though never derivatively – there's a magic about Organic Sampler that means every listen will unearth new surprises.
Which also means that there's a wide range of styles on display here, to keep interest afloat: experimental, disordered jazz cabaret (Days Go By) and sinister voodoo-style fuzziness (The Climb) lay side-by-side with animated, hypnotic pop (It Over) and songs that recall a trippy tour of a morgue during the witching hour (Stick To Your Line). Such a mixed bag could easily turn up catastrophic results, but the whirlwind of solos and styles somehow works cohesively. It's more than a little premature to call Hickey a visionary, but this is undoubtedly a wondrous debut album.