Roger Doyle is something of an enigma in Irish music. Renowned the world over for his work in advancing and innovating electronic music, he still finds himself relatively unknown on his home shores.
This elusive aspect to his professional persona is not something he actively pursues or encourages. Rather the opposite. Doyle courts a wider audience every chance he gets and with the release of new documentary The Curious Works of Roger Doyle, the public has a chance to better understand, and more importantly appreciate, one of the most acclaimed and celebrated of Irish musical talents to have worked in the last 50 years.
Written and directed by Brian Lally, the film charts the efforts of Roger Doyle to compose and stage his first opera, Heresy, based on the life of the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno who was burned at the stake in 1600.
Delving much deeper than just Doyle’s latest endeavour, the documentary gives a much broader insight into the mind and body of work of a unique presence in the genre of experimental music. It’s a fascinating, almost autobiographical look at Roger Doyle’s works and collaborations throughout a boundary pushing career. Though the film plays out in a procedural fashion, there’s enough substance to Doyle’s body of work to keep the viewer engaged.
Narrated by Jeananne Crowley and featuring input from cohorts and confederates who have worked with Roger down through the years, the film invites you to see and hear snippets of his music and the craft that goes into it. It’s those spacious and reflective segments of the film that work best; time spent with Doyle’s music whether it be quieter, poetic piano pieces or sharper, almost caustic electronica.
Like his experiential style, it can be challenging, fractured, divisive and even singular in its appraisal of its subject but it’s a compelling watch. There’s no question that Roger Doyle is an enigmatic figure in the world in which he strides. He’s someone who continues to scrutinize, explore and operate outside his comfort zone even if it is the path less taken. Curious? Indeed.