Kilbride & Malone Duo

Kilbride Malone Duo

Kilbride & Malone Duo

(Niall Kilbride, b Limerick, 22 Sept. 1950; d Boston 8 April 1999; Karen Malone, b Limerick 3 Oct. 1952; d Boston 17 July 2013).

Jazz musicians Niall Kilbride (saxophone) and Karen Malone (drums) were among the earliest practitioners of free improvisation in Ireland, beginning in and around Limerick in the very early 1970s. The two musicians played with many different experimental musicians and groups, but their duo was known for particularly discordant, noise-based performances.

The Kilbride & Malone Duo came to nation-wide attention briefly in 1974 when the British military intelligence used one of their recordings as part of a “psy-ops” operation against paramilitary groups in the North. Between 1972 and 1974 Captain Colin Wallace’s Information Policy group planted fictional press stories and created fake “Satanic Mass” settings around Northern Ireland in an effort to link these practices with paramilitary groups and scare the local populace off engaging with such groups. A bootleg recording of a highly distorted Kilbride & Malone Duo performance was left playing in an abandoned farmhouse near Larne as part of one of the Information Policy group’s “Black Mass” set-ups. An RTÉ news clip filmed at the farmhouse described the music as “played by people possessed” and “demonic”. An excerpt from the recording is given here.

Untitled Improvisation (excerpt) (1974) by Kilbride & Malone Duo

Kilbride and Malone immigrated to the USA in the mid-1970s and lived in Boston for the rest of their lives, where they worked as instrumental teachers at local high schools. They played with a number of local musicians in Boston and New York including John Zorn and Lydia Lunch and are featured in several films by maverick “no-wave” Irish film-maker Vivienne Dick.


Jenkins, Richard Black Magic and Bogeymen: Fear, Rumour and Popular Belief in the North of Ireland 1972-74 (Cork: Cork University Press, 2014)

by Jennifer Walshe