John McGrath

Guitarist, Sound-artist, PhD & Author

John McGrath is a guitarist, sound-artist, PhD and author from Ireland. His music explores the boundaries of the ancient and modern as traditional elements meet improvisation and experimental tendencies. Recent work is concerned with nature and place, focusing on single-take recordings. These solo fingerstyle instrumentals feature drones, transformative repetitions, found sound and distilled fragments of live granular synthesis. His compositions have been featured in The Wire magazine and on numerous international radio stations. He has a monograph with Routledge entitled, "Samuel Beckett, Repetition and Modern Music". John is a lecturer at ICMP and Goldsmiths, having previously taught at University of Liverpool and LIPA. 

"Dublin born guitarist John McGrath’s debut EP of solo acoustic instrumentals combines static drones, glitches, and contemporary techniques with rich harmonics and intricate fingerpicking.  His versatile, experimental approach, reminiscent of Jim O’Rourke, Christian Fennesz, and Marc Ribot, pushes at the boundaries of new guitar music and the UK avant folk scene. McGrath recently supported Richard Dawson and performed with Rhys Chatham and Dustin Wong." -The Wire

"Bringing a touch of the 21st century to the guitar soli scene, Irish guitarist John McGrath combines loop pedal technology with Takoma-style fingerpicking on his new EP, Lanterns. The results are very cool, suggesting an alternate reality where loop maestro Dustin Wong worked on acoustic rather than electric guitar. Over four tracks, McGrath adds neat harmonic and percussive elements to his sharp solo playing. But it’s more than a gimmick — the songs here are uniformly strong, especially the oddly named, but quite lovely 'Ghosty’s Spinach Song,' which closes out the EP." - Aquarium Drunkard

"John McGrath's reputation is still bubbling underground, however his appearances in various guitar ensembles and scratch orchestras, as well as his Lanterns EP, have made him known for dexterous guitar work and the ability to work folky melodies in with complex arrangements. With the help of fellow composer Chloe Mullett, McGrath's work with Immix is less of an overhaul and more of a tasteful augmentation of his music, as if to highlight the ornate nature of his work that is more subtle in a solo capacity. Bringing to mind the likes of Owen Pallett and Grizzly Bear, John McGrath is an artist capable of balancing classical and folk textures to great effect." -

The Skinny

“his clutch of haunted icy soundscapes sounds very much like wandering around half-remembered wintry dreams.” - Bido Lito!

"a deft masterclass in cyclical finger-picking fused with subtle glitches, warped drones and rapping Autumnal taps." - Peter Guy, Liverpool Echo

"One of the most innovative solo guitarists on the scene right now is John McGrath ... utilising seriously warped effects over John Fahey-esque musings." - Deep Hedonia

"like Bert Jansch remixed by Four Tet, combining extraordinary technical mastery with warm drones and harmonic effects." - The Cube