FolkWorld article by Christian Moll:

Flook's Flying Flutes

About whisles as drumsticks and bodhrans replacing flutes

Flook, Press photo Flook the definite flute band from the Celtic music world has finally brought out their debut studio album, "Flatfish". A good reason for FolkWorld to find out more about this exciting band with nowadays two flutes.

It all started about four years ago, somebody had the idea to put together a band of 3 flutes, with Brian Finnegan, Michael McGoldrick and Sarah Allan - the first tour was called "Three Nations Flutes". Sarah says, "We did everything with just the flutes, different sorts of flutes and whistles, and a little bit of me on accordion." Although originally planned as a one-off/occasional project, the project got great reviews right from the start, and it continued to grow over the years. "By the end of the first tour, we had already asked Ed (Boyd) to join us on guitar. And we changed our name to Fluke! The spelling of that had to change before too long, as there was a Manchester-based techno band of the same name."

About two and a half years later Michael McGoldrick decided to leave the band because he had too much work with other bands (including Capercaillie) and with his solo work. "Before Michael left we had started using John Joe Kelly (bodhran) as an occasional 5th member, and when Mike decided to go, we chose to replace him not with another flute player (would have been impossible to replace him) but to continue with John Joe. There was perhaps a bit of scepticism at our replacing a flute with a bodhran, but to us it felt like the right thing to do, and we were moving away from being a novelty flute act to being more like a serious band."
Flook, Press photo The music has become a bit less frantic than it was before and a little more considered, and more groovy with such a strong rhythm section. Some press people were unsure if Flook could survive the loss of such a strong founder member. But by now it is clear that Flook remains a very strong band, presenting exceptional music appealing to growing numbers of people. The new album (brought out on their own label) shows that Flook is alive and kicking. "Getting gigs was hindered more by the changing of agents than by the changing of band members; there is certainly no shortage of work at the moment, and next year promises to be extremely busy." As a purely instrumental band, you might think that it's a diffcult affair to get enough gigs - but in Flook's case the band never had any trouble getting gigs.

Flook's music is a fusion of styles and traditions. "We mix Irish traditional music with our own compositions and we are also heavily influenced by the music of Brittany and by our love of Eastern European music. Each of the 4 members has had a very different musical upbringing, and it is the interaction between the four of us that creates the unique Flook sound, a mix of traditional tunes with contemporary beats and ideas."

Flook, Press photo The musical biography of the four members of Flook is diverse, so the musical influences of Flook are a broad mixture. Brian Finnegan grew up amongst a generation of Irish musicians who allowed themselves to be influenced by the broader musical world around them. He has a very strong sense of the roots of traditional music, while having developed a unique style of flute playing drawing on elements of jazz and Indian music, and a particular approach to ornamentation using advanced tonguing techniques. He played in a band from the North called Upstairs in a Tent who made quite a name for themselves in the early nineties and then disappeared. Brian has recorded a solo album, "When the Party's Over", but it is very hard to find.

Ed Boyd grew up in Bath (southern England), playing music at school. When he moved to Manchester he found himself surrounded by musicians, playing irish music in sessions. It was here that he first met Mike, John Joe and countless other great young musicians. At this time he formed the band Red Ciel with 2 friends, and recorded the fine album "Jump to the Sun". Ed is much in demand these days as a backer for traditional musicians.

John Joe Kelly grew up in a Manchester Irish family. He started the drums by using his sister Grace's whistles as drumsticks! (So he won't have a shortage of drumsticks in a band like Flook - although then Flook might have a shortage of whistles...). From very young he was always an outstanding bodhran player, and these days he even gets still better, expanding the boundaries of what beats and sounds you can get from one simple drum.

Sarah Allan's musical background began at school, embraced free jazz when she was at college, then moved towards folk music through a series of lucky encounters with like-minded musicians. First off Sarah played in anarchic, 23 piece big band "The Happy End", then The Barely Works. After that Sarah formed BIGJIG with banjo player Chris Thompson, which mixed a folk frontline with a funky backline of bass and drums - a superb band that never gained the reputation it deserved.

Flook, Press photo The sound of Flook is unique because of the use of two flutes at the same time. Sarah tells us more about this: " The sound of multiple flutes has always appealed to both myself and Brian. Its very unusual to have a group with more than one flute, although more than one of anything else is quite common. There is so much you can do with flutes, especially as we have such a wide range of instruments. I play the deep alto flute quite a lot, putting down bass lines, shifting in and out of the front line and the rhythm section. It's not often that we're both doing the same thing at the same time - we use the flutes both for harmonies and for textures."
In spring 1999 Flook had a tour together with 3 more flute players from all around Europe and undertook a 2 week tour entitled "Flutopia". "We had a fantastic time. It was a priviledge for us to be playing alongside Jean Michel Veillon from Brittany, Quique Almendros from Spain and Andras Monori from Hungary. Everyone played solo, in varying duos and trios, and the grand finale when we all played together for the last few numbers. What an exhilarating experience that was!"

Flook have recently started running the band almost completely by themselves (with the help of Sarah's dad who until recently did everything computor-based, and works really hard keeping their mailing list up to date). "We felt it was the right time to move on from our agent and it became obvious that we could do most things ourselves given the time - the only problem now is that because we have become very busy it's getting harder to find the time to do all the organising...."

If that is the main problem of Flook, then it looks like a bright future for these four nice chaps.

Latest published CD: Flatfish, Label: Flatfish (own label)
Further infos/contact: Flook's homepage e-mail: Flook's management.

??? WIN Flook's Flatfish CDs!
You have the chance to win one out of two Flatfish CDs of Flook if you tell us, what you can see on the picture on the right.
Answers until 12/02/99 to FolkWorld.

Photo Credit: Flook
Illustration by Andrea Davies

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