Issue 14 6/2000

FolkWorld CD Reviews


Fluxan Os Ventos "Sempre e Mais Despois"
Fonomusic; CD8128; 1999; Playing time: 50.09 min
Hailing from Galicia in Northern Spain, Fluxan Os Ventos do not have the strong Celtic element in their music; their sound has an attractive more Southern feeling than most of their new Galician folk music collegues.
Fluxan Os Ventos started already back in 1972, being one of the really old folk bands from Galicia. "Sempre e Mais Despois" ("Forever and even afterwards") is Fluxan's seventh album; the last one was published in 1984! Having had in the last couple of years only very occasional gigs becasue of non-musical commitments, they decided in 1997 to record a new album nevertheless.
The album focuses on the voices of the 10 members of the band, featuring 13 traditional songs from Galicia. The songs are backed by an enjoyable choice of instruments, featuring guitar, hurdy gurdy, violin, bagpipes, flutes, drums. The style of the songs is not Pandeiretada, but more the folk kind of songs; the vocal harmonies are unspectacularly beautiful arranged, proving that these singers have a long-time experience in singing. The overall feeling of the album is a lot of atmosphere and warmth: Galician traditional music from heart.
Nice booklet also by the way (although it is only in Spanish).
Fluxan Os Ventos' Homepage, e-mail Fluxan Os Ventos
Michael Moll

Etzakit "Goiz Edo Noiz?"
Label: Elkarlanean; KD-548; 2000; Playing time: 42.25 min
Roots rock music from one of the smallest language groups of Europe: Basque. The five young men of Etzakit have found already with their second album their own destinctive sound, melting Basque roots music with modern songwriting, a strong rock music element and world music influences. The roots feeling comes mainly from the use of the Trikitixa, the Basque accordeon; add to this a rock band featuring guitars, bass, drums and a rock singer singing in Basque. On some tunes a brass section is added to this eclectic and powerful mix.
This music is fun, the Basque language and the Trikitixa makes this music to appealing, exciting and unusual rock music from this European region. They sound like being a great live act as well. Although they seem not to aim at an international market (all sleeve notes are in Basque only), they might have a big appeal internationally. Play this CD loud to have a party!
Etzakit Homepage, E-mail Elkarlanena label
Michael Moll

Burlakat "Tsastuska"
Label: Own; BUR1-99; 1999; Playing time: 38.06 min
When hearing the name Rääkkylä, any fan of Finnish folk music will think of strong female singing, as Rääkylä is the home of Finland's best known Folk/World Music exports, Värttinä. This album of the band Burlakat indicates that Värttinä might be only the tip of the iceberg of the music scene of the Lakelands in Eastern Finland.
In the centre of Burlakat are three female singers with lovely voices (Johanna Koukkunen, Pauliina Luukanen, Sirkka Moström), joined by talented instrumentalists on accordeon (played in a similar style as in Värttinä), guitars/mandolin and double bass. Their repertoire consists of traditional songs from Finland and Karelia (a region devided by the Finnish-Russian border). Sometimes the voices seem to be a bit too soft for the powerful Finnish songs, yet this album is highly enjoyable listening. Not really a must for everyone, yet an attractive addition to the Finnish folk collection.
c/o Tarja Lamminsalo, Paksuniementie 156a, 82300 Rääkylä, Tel.+358 40 5037449
Michael Moll

Label: Fono Astur; FA-CD 8774; 1998; Playing time: 38.52 min
Xéliba play traditional music from Asturies, the small region in the North of Spain neighbouring Galicia. Their music approach reminds of their Asturian collegues and friends Llan de Cubel: Celtic music of Asturian traditions with arrangentments obviously influenced from Scottish folk bands, an appealing blend which is typical for the Asturian music scene.
The five boys are great musicians, playing in the "Asturian Way" on acoustic instruments like Bouzouki/Guitar, Flute, Box Accordion, Percussion and, of course, also the Gaita Asturiana, the Asturian bagpipes. Xéliba is obviously in the first place an instrumental band, and this is also where they are best; yet the two songs presented in soft singing style give a fine variation to the album.
Lovely music, presented with soul. The well designed booklet proves also with the background information to the tunes that these musicians care about the origins of their music and have a decent knowledge about Asturian traditions. Definitely one of the quality bands of Northern Spain.
Xéliba Homepage, Mailto Xéliba
Michael Moll

Malinky "Last Leaves"
Greentrax; CDTRAX 190; 2000; Playing time: 49.51 min
It is great to see new young bands of traditional and folk music starting their career - and it is even better if they are excellent!
Malinky, a young quartet from Scotland, is such a band. In 1999 they won the "Danny Award" at 'Danny Kyle's Open Stage' at the big Celtic Connection Festival in Glasgow. This open stage provides lesser known or new bands and musicians the chance to perform in front of a relatively big audiance. This happens each afternoon of the three weeks of Celtic Connections, and the best six bands are receiving at the end of the festival a 'Danny' award. This award is a big chance for these bands, as they are invited to play a main stage of the next Celtic Connections festival and they have the chance to get good deals with record companies or agents.
Malinky has strong connections to Scotland: Karine Polwart (vocals, guitar) is from Stirlingshire, Steve Byrne (vocals, bouzouki, guitar) is from Arbroath in Scotland's North East, and the band is based in Scotland. The other two lads hail from other parts of the British isles: Kit Patterson (fiddle, guitar, mandolin) comes from Plymouth in Southern England and Mark Dunlop (bodhran, whistle) from Antrim in norhtern Ireland.
It is great to see a young band focussing its repertoire on songs. The band is fronted by the very strong singer Karine, yet is lucky to have a second singer in Steve - it is seldom nowadays to have two strong singers in young bands. The repertoire is well chosen: some trad. songs ('The Beggarman', 'Alison Cross', 'The Bonnie Lass O'Fyvie', etc.), some contemporary ones, a traditional Macedonian song. Still, the highlight of the debut-album of Malinky are the two songs written by Karine herself: ' Whaur dae ye lie?' telling about the women of Srebrenica and 'The dreadful end of Marianna for Sorcery' based on a short story about a witch. Excellent songwriting, perfectly presented.
Well done, Malinky! Greentrax
Christian Moll

Värttinä "Ilmartar"
Wicklow Records; 09026 63678 2; 2000; Playing time: 47.08 min
Värttinä have been waving the flag of Finnish music for some time now - they are Finlads biggest world and trad music export.
The group known for the big female vocal power has developed their own style, although most of their albums have their very own destinctive sound. With the four strong female voices always in the centre, Värttinä have also an impressive instrumental part featuring accordion, bouzouki/saxophone, fiddle, double bass, guitars/kantele and percussion. Compared to the last CD, "Vihma", Ilmatar sounds less overproduced, maybe a little bit "back to the roots" with the arrangements of most songs sounding quite traditional. Producer Hughes de Courson (well known in his native France) has succeeded in getting most of the raw power of Värttinäs voices into the CD. For me the only low point of the album is the collaboration with the Finnish rock singer Ismo Alanko, "Äijo", but without doubt that is a question of taste.
Ilamatar sees Värttinä going in a very positive and exciting direction; yet it shows once again that you never know what to expect of a new album of this special band. Lovely CD.
Wicklow Records
Christian & Michael Moll

Matto Congrio
Sonifolk; CDF1031; 1993; Playing time: 41.50 min
Galician music has had (and still has) a big revival during the last eight years or so. If your are interested in knowing how it all started, you should buy this album of 1993.
Matto Congrio has been maybe the most influencial new Galician folk band in those days - and still today the music is very fresh sounding and innovative. In this band two of today's best known and best bands of Galicia had their start: Berrogüetto and the Carlos Núñnez Band. Three members of the later band Berrogüetto and two of the Carlos Nunez Band (Carlos himself and his long time collaborant, multiinstrumentalist Pancho Alvarez) were involved in this band. If you know these bands today, you can get from this CD an idea of how they first developed their musical ideas.
This album is a real must if you are interested in these two great Galician bands...
Christian Moll

Anam "Tine Gheal/Bright fire"
Linn Records; CKD121; 2000; Playing time: 49.32 min
"The Bright Fire" is Anam's first album since their mayor line up change. On this album Anam are the Irish singer songwriter Brian Ó hEadhra, the Scottish singer songwriter Fiona MacKenzie, Irish button accordionst Tresa harkin, Scottish fiddler Anna-Wendy Stevenson and the bouzouki, mandolin player Neil Davey from Cornwall. Since the recording of this album, the line-up changed once again, because Tresa left the band in January, for her Tim Edey, a twenty year old multiinstrumentalist from Kent in England, stepped into the band.
"The Bright Fire" shows the wealth of songs this band has on offer - the two singers can both sing and write songs in their native Gaelic - Brian in Irish Gaelic and Fiona in Scottish Gaelic, and both in English language. It is fascinating to have a band combinig Irish and Scottish Gaelic songs!
For my taste especially some of the English songs are a bit to radio friendly arranged. But just listen to one of the Gaelic songs 'In Ó' written by Fiona, and you know that just for this number it is worth to buy this album!
All in all a special album presenting many different styles and traditions of the British isles.
Linn Records
Christian Moll

Gwazígan "Y'avait du monde"
Coop Breizh; CD903; 2000; Playing time: 53.24 min
Bringing together musicians from Brittany and Québec, Gwazígan's repertoire is mainly based on Québecois music traditions, with influences and tunes from French and Irish music. The Québec element is brought to the band by singer, guitarist and feet percussionist Bernard Simard. His songs are based somewhere between Cajun, French chansons and Québecois traditions. He is joined by an exciting band, made up by the superb uillean piper/low whistler Loïc Blejean - known from his extraordniary contributions to the Breton rock band Glaz -, flautist Sylvain Barou and fiddler Dominique Trichet (all three from Brittany) and double bassist Dina Rakotomonga from Madagascar.
There are quite a few energetic tunes with a modern Celtic sound and six enjoyable songs... and then there is as finale of the CD a strong session tune featuring some Québecois friends: Denis Fréchette (piano, La Bottine Souriante), Pierre Laporte (fiddle), André Marchand (guitar) and Normand Miron (melodeon). Great stuff!
Coop Breizh
Michael Moll

Eamonn Dillon "Storm the Kettle"
Label: Own; 7 76127 0928 2 1; 1999; Playing time: 47.20 min
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Eamonn Dillon can claim to have acquired five title in the annual All Ireland Competitions, two of which the first place. These days based in the states, the uilleann piper and (low) whistle player has released with "Storm the Kettle" an impressive album of innovative modern Irish traditional music.
Eamonn is accompanied by an appealing folk rock band featuring his sister Roisin Dillon on the fiddle, the great blind multiinstrumentalist Jim Fidler from Newfoundland on percussions, guitars and keyboards, Irishman Mike Hanrahan on bouzouki, John Schreiber on tenor Banjo and finally Rick West on bodhran. Mainly Irish tunes - reels, airs, jigs, a hornpipe - arranged in an intriguing modern and trancy way without losing their trad soul and identity. I loved this album, and recommend it to anybody who is into modern Celtic instrumental music.
Eamonn Dillon's Homepage; Mail to DillonHouse Music
Michael Moll

Label: Own; Demo/Pre-release; 1999; Playing time: 23.45 min
The members of Atzawara, the new Catalan folk band, have a lot of references, including bands like Clau of Lluna, Oskorri or Vox Populi, and hail from as diverse places as Catalonia, Mexico, the Canaries and New York. The music may not really be pigeonholed, showing traces of Catalan, Celtic, traditional, a little bit of Jazz and much more. It's acoustic music, with an overall happy feeling, sounding like a great festival band. Their instruments are violin/mandolin, double bass, diatonic accordeon, bagpipes, guitars, percussion. They sing also in Catalan language, creating a positive atmosphere. This small CD leaves you waiting for the full one...
Atzawara's homepage, Mailto Francesc Tomàs
Michael Moll

Roddy Campbell "Tarruinn Anmoch - Late Cull"
Greentrax recordings; CDTRAX 191; 2000; Playing time: 42.56 min
Rory Campbell is known internationally as one of the best young Scottish-Gaelic pipers. This CD showcases Rory's greatest inspiration - his father Roddy Campbell.
With "Tarruinn Anmoch", Roddy Campbell from the Isle of Barra has recorded his debut album, presenting traditional Gaelic singing and piping. The singing style is very natural and traditional, and most of the songs are old traditional Gaelic songs. Roddy is joined by some of the best Scottish musicians, including his children Rory on whistle and vocals and Marianne on fiddle and vocals, Malcolm Stitt on guitar and Mary MacMaster on the harp. Still, the feeling of the album is very traditional, presenting both Gaelic singing and Gaelic piping like they used to be sung in the communities of the Outer Hebrides.
If you are interested in obtaining the album, please note that the English translations of the Gaelic songs are not included in the booklet but can be ordered from Greentrax - so directly ask Greentrax to send them along with the CD.
Michael Moll

Russell's House "Russell's House"
Label: Atcof Records; 1999; Playing time: 55.04 min
Russell's House is another great new band from the Scottish scene, with its members being already well known on the scene. There is Scotsman Simon Bradley, best known as member of the internationally known Asturian band Llan de Cubel and having highlighted his Scottish-Spanish musical relationship by winning the Spanish Mod Concurso de Parjas as the first ever non-Spaniard to win this prestigious award. Then Eamonn Coyne, a native Irishman living in Edinburgh, who is a master on the banjo, playing in bands like Scoofer and Stockton's Wing. Russell Hunter (the one with the house...) plays piano and fiddle, comes from North East Scotland, and is a sought after accompanist in the Scottish scene. Finally, Sandy Wright is a talented guitarist and songwriter.
The different backgrounds of the band members lead to diverse influences from Nothern Spain, Ireland, America etc, but the music is rooted in Scotland. Sandy's three songs (two written by him) sound very blue, while the tunes range from happy-quick to beautifully-slow. The lead instruments are mostly Eamonn's banjo or Simon Bradley's fiddle (swapping between Asturian and Scottish style), with piano and guitar providing a fine backing.
If at Russell's House is always as good music as on the album "Russell's House", then Russell seems to be a good person to visit in Edinburgh!
Russell's House Homepage, e-mail Russell's House
Michael Moll

L'Ham de Foc "U"
Sonifolk; 20137; 1999; Playing time: 54.36 min
New Folk from Valencia/Spain. L'Ham de Foc's first release is an exciting melange of Spanish traditions, medieval sounds and influences from Northern Europe, Greece, the Middle East, from Australia (by the use of a didgeridoo) and from India (Indian percussion and string instruments). On the instrumental side, there is in the tunes sometimes a strong feeling of antique/medieval music, using hurdy gurdy, pandereta gallega, fiddle, percussion, accordeon, guitars. The songs sound more mediterrean-Spanish, presented by the impressive beautiful voice of female singer Mara Aranda, creating a wonderful atmosphere.
With their eclectic mix of music L'ham de Foc were awarded as Best Newcomer Act in Folk Music by the Institute of Youth. Their music is very fresh and exciting, with the youthful power of innovation, yet also with the maturity to leave sometimes time and space for beautiful quiet arrangements. A band that belongs to the best of the New Folk bands that spring up all over Europe these days. An album that makes you already waiting for the next one.
Michael Moll

Altan "Another Sky"
Label: Virgin Records; 7243 8 48838 2 9; 2000; Playing time: 49.49 min
"Another Sky" is a surprise in so far that it presents Altan as a traditional group with focus on songs. Only five out of the 14 numbers are sets of tunes. Three of the songs are in Gaelic, and this is where Mairead and the boys are song-wise at their best. Mairead's gentle and scenic interpretation of these traditional songs makes - as always - the Gaelic language to the most beautiful language in the world. The first song, "Beidh Aonach Amárach", is a perfect opener, with an exciting intro. Possibly the highlight of the album...
The English songs include "Green Grow The Rushes", a lovely song from Steve Cooney "Island Girl", even a Bob Dylan song "Girl from the North Country". These songs are all attractive, yet they cannot carry the magic that the Gaelic ones do.
Although there are only five instrumental sets, these offer a lot of attractions in form of reels, a slipjig and a couple of jigs, a waltz and finally a lovely composition of Mark Kelly.
The album has a fresh and natural, not overproduced sound, yet for my taste Altan should not have invited their studio guests on dobro and slide guitar, disturbing the beauty of two songs of the album. Very attractive is the booklet, with atmospheric wild Irish scenery.
While some of the older albums of Altan made me wish for more songs, this album provides the opposite feeling that maybe a few more tunes would have done better. Although when listening to this sweet voice of Mairead, my criticism soon vanishes...
Anyway, the album is another proof that Altan well deserve to have the reputation as the best Irish traditional band.
Altan's Homepage
Michael Moll

WIN Altan CDs!
You can win one of two of the new album of Irelands top band. To take part in the competition, answer the following question: The song 'Green Grow The Rushes' is featured on Altan's new album. Who has written this song?
Answers until 10/08/2000 to FolkWorld.

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