In Ireland, sean-nos refers to an ancient style of songcraft.
Completely a cappella, there’s little to no repetition of melodies or lyrics. Instead, a storyteller arrests their audience through a consistent hypnosis – never growing louder, softer, faster or slower; their tale unfolding through droning, improvisational tones.
In 2017, musician, rapper and multimedia artist MJ O’Neill crafted an Australian tribute in Post-mortem. A hallucinatory a cappella rap epic exploring the rise of Donald Trump and white supremacy throughout history, Post-mortem saw O’Neill rapping 1625 words in nine minutes; creating a hypnotic, layered new variant of performance poetry from their Irish-Australian background.
With 2018’s This Technological Terror You’ve Constructed, O’Neill has expanded the form further to explore a topic of greater intimacy. Diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2018, O’Neill discovered they’d been repressing their identity for the better part of thirty years. In 13 parts, This Technological Terror… dissects the systems of repression and the instruments of liberation.
Over the course of a startling thirty minutes, O’Neill confronts everything from comic book superheroes and schoolyard rituals of stoicism to secret university experiments and the painful experience of unconditional love that drove them towards truth; confronting the greatest insecurity of their transition as they continue their journey from male to female.