Guitarist and songwriter Cian Nugent hails from Dublin, Ireland.
His playing style, while quite unique, derives from many sources. Early recordings reveal the deep influence of the American Primitive players including John Fahey and Robbie Basho and the great British folk guitarists such as Bert Jansch, Davy Graham, and John Renbourn. Along the way, more idiosyncratic sources made themselves known in his playing and composing: he is equally obsessed with blues and traditional musics, late-’60s and ‘70s singer/songwriters, jazz (of many stripes), 20th century classical composition (notably Charlemagne Palestine’s), electric folk (Fairport Convention), and rockist sources such as Television and the Velvet Underground. His playing has also opened up to show that he’d spent serious time deep-listening to modern guitarists including Jim O’Rourke, Ben Chasny, and Jack Rose.
Nugent grew up a devoted rock fan (he has claimed that the Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks” remains a personal influence) and played in several rock and ska bands in his teens. During his twenties, his playing evolved and he gravitated to playing solo acoustic guitar and developing a unique fingerstyle signature. His earliest recordings -- a privately distributed self-titled EP in 2007 and the full-length Childhood, Christian Lies & Slaughter on Incunabulum/audioMER. in 2008 -- bear this out. He continued to play with bands, however, and in 2009 he took on the role of bassist for Limerick’s Sea Dog and became a founding member of the #1s. Despite his activity with others -- including a touring guitar duo with Steve Gunn called Desert Heat -- Nugent spent a great deal of time expanding his own sound. Doubles, a solo guitar album, was released on VHF in 2011, and consisted of two side-long tracks. One could hear the embrace of dissonance, repetition, and exploratory technique in his compositional method. Nugent toured with Fern Night, Arborea, and other psychedelic folk artists, following the album with a 7” single that paired the original “Grass Above My Head” with “My War Blues,” a tune based on a song by former Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski.
Not content with the limiting solo guitar format, he formed Cian Nugent & the Cosmos. The band’s membership consisted of the guitarist, drummer David Lacey, electric violist Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh, bassist Conor Lumsden, and organist Brendan Jenkinson. The group issued Born with the Caul on No Quarter in 2013 (they had help on horns in a couple of spots). Over 45 minutes long, the set consisted of only three tracks; it provided a mercurial spin on late-’60s and early-’70s progressive folk. In the midst of touring and other musical activities, Cian Nugent & the Comos entered Bow Line Studios in Dublin on Valentine’s Day 2015 and cut a new album. For the first time, Nugent sang on a recording, and combined his approaches between band tunes and solo interludes. Night Fiction was recorded by Daniel Fox (Girl Band) and mixed by Brendan Jenkinson. It was released by Woodsist in January 2016, before the group undertook a major North American tour. ~ Thom Jurek