Issue 21 03/2002

FolkWorld CD ReviewsDog

Matt Ender "Miles of skye"
Label: Etherean; 7112-2; 2001; Playing time: 46.44 min
After his success album Ancient isle Matt Ender just released his second cd Miles of Skye. Ender, playing the piano and is responsible for the sample and electronic sounds on this cd, found ten fellow musicians to play with him on this fine album. Eric Rigler on Uileann pipes (Titanic) and Brian Kilgore on percussion (Robbie Williams) and vocalist Steve mcDonald are the known names but Ender also included some upcoming and unknown musicians. The overall sound of the cd is very relaxing. I would classify it as Celtic-pop which is suitable for a big audience. All songs are easy to listen to and Ender stayed on the safe side with his own compositions or with the way he plays the traditional tunes. That means that Miles of skye isn't a cd that will surprise many listeners but more a cd that will satisfy the big group of listeners who love soft Celtic-pop music with a soft touch of New-age music.
Eelco Schilder

Romanyi Rota "Phiravelman kalyi phuv"
Label: Fono; 050-2; 1999; Playing time: 71.20 min
The Hungarian band Romanyi Rota considers it self to be a city folk band which points to the music which was played in Tanchaz (dance houses) in the Hungarian cities. It were mostly young musicians from small communities who cane to the big cities and played their own music and meet other musicians and learned each others style. Special for the style heard on this cd is the imitation by voice of the originally instrumental tune. Basic are the guitar and the voice that doesn't sing words but plays the role of melodic instrument. In combination with a few "real" songs this cd became a special collection of tunes. The way of singing is quit unusual and I can imagine many listeners have to get used to the bit nasal and not always in tune way of singing. Although the special collection I found that the cd could not keep it's strength until the last tune. After thirty minutes I heard enough and want to hear some variation. But don't forget that this is a reviewer's personal feeling and I can imagine that a better-trained ear will enjoy this cd a lot.
Eelco Schilder

Garden of delight "Celtic legends"
Label: own; 2001; Playing time: 47.09 min
The sleeve and title of the new cd by the German group Garden of delight suggests to me that it's a re-issue of some fantastic weird progressive folk album from the 1970's. Well, it's not. It's the new cd of this German Celtic band and they play 2 cd's, more than two hours, of self-written pop songs with Celtic influence. I read in a review that the band is used to play three hours live shows and I think that is also what they want to offer their fans with this 2 cd set. Each song is nice to listen to and brought with pleasure but for me, two cd's is to much of the same. The band has great quality and I think I would have a fantastic evening seeing them play live on stage. There is so much enthusiasm in their music that they forgot to be subtle on some occasions. My suggestion; send a cd to the organisers of the Folkwoods festival in Holland and let me enjoy your live capabilities.
Homepage of the artist:
Eelco Schilder

Shannon Saunders and the Splinters "The Yellow Book"
Label: Neli Music; SAS20041; 20001 ; Playing time: 39.35 min
"File under Bluegrass/Celtic/Folk" it says on the back of the cover of this cd with Shannon Saunders and the Splinters. Shannon Saunders is a Canadian fiddler, playing celtic tunes in a weird mix of bluegrass and Tin Pan Alley arrangements. The production is horrible especially the squeeky fiddle. The banjo player tries to sound a bit like Bela Fleck, and even though he may be the best musicians of them all, he is lightyears behind Bela's smoothness. Saunders is constantly out of tune, and the band is about the most untight I have heard for a long time. The songs are pretty good - reminds me of Indigo Girl. We have all heard it before, though. So if I should file this cd under celtic, I might have to place it next to Natalie MacMaster, if under Bluegrass it would be next to Flecktones and if I should file it under folk, it might take the place right next to Indigo Girls. That wouldnt be fair to either Natalie, Bela or Indigo Girls.
mail to
Søren Jensen Lund

Tingali "Thru the Hoop"
Label: Own label ; TN002; Playing time: 29.15 min
Tinglati is from Australia, and like many other Aussie folk bands, they make use of a lot of ethnic percussion providing a calm feeling throughout the cd. Tinglati is a reminscent of the British folk rock wave in the late sixties, but with a global touch. The lyrics are very political. The first song, La Malbouffe, is about how the USA suck all life out of poor French farmers. But even though the lyrics sometimes are very selfrightious, I really dig the music. I always liked combinations of western and Arab music. Thru the Hoop is a very short cd with only 5 songs. Tinglati made a demo a few years ago, that has a charming roughness to it. Let's hope we will soon hear a full length cd from this interesting band. ,
Søren Jensen Lund

Céide "Like a Wild Thing"
Label: Own Label; 2001; Playing time: 56.49 min
I remember when I stood by the Céide fields some years ago, a 5.000 year old Mesolithic settlement in Northern Mayo. It had been sunny for almost two weeks, though it was October, believe it or not. But the other day it started pouring down, the wind was lashing against the rugged coast. So it could be a good choice for a group's name. Céide already claim high praise from Matt Molloy: These five lads first started to play together at a regular Sunday night session in my pub in Westport. It soon became clear that they were developing a distinctive and original sound, combining the best of traditional music with contemporary songs and arrangements. It has a very broad appeal and I highly recommend it. The outfit consists of flute (Brian Lennon, son of fiddler Ben and brother of Stockton's Wing's Maurice Lennon), button accordion and melodeon (Tom Doherty), fiddle (John Mc Hugh, who contributed to the Chieftain's "Water from the Well" album), double bass (Kevin Doherty), guitar and vocals (Declan Askin). Besides the usual suspects - however, some common tunes in quite uncommon keys -, there's a Finnish waltz (which makes me rather feel like strolling along the River Seine), Pierre Bensusan's air "Le Voyage pour L'Irlande", and a Dutch dance tune taken from a Rastafarian mandolin player from Groningen. Declan Askin chose some poignant contemporary songs: John Martyn's "John the Baptist", Lyle Lovett's "If I had a Boat", and the title song "Like a Wild Thing", written by County Mayo resident Tony Reidy about the decline of small farming: Farewell to the land where I grappled with stone / To make a livin' I must sit at a chair and stare at a screen / Yes sir no sir; soon time for tea / Well I feel like a wild thing trapped in a snare. Céide can go wild at times, but grazing pleasant pastures in general. I feel like sitting at the blazing peat fire on a windy day and I hope there are much more fields to uncover.
Walkin' T:-)M

Mick Conneely "Selkie"
Label: Clo Iar-Chonnachta; CICD148; 2001; Playing time: 59.56 min
According to Irish/Scottish/Scandinavian legend, a selkie - half woman, half seal - is able to discard her seal skin and come ashore as a beautiful maiden. If one selkie lost her skin, they were doomed to remain in human form. Legend has it that the Conneelys are descended from the seals. And like the selkie, Mick Conneely (the website wasn't online at the time of writing) rose from, no, not from obscurity (he's part of Danish/Irish band ErrisLannan, named after the homeplace of Mick's father in Connemara), but from pristine waters and gives us the pure drop (in 1993 Mick was actually part of the "Pure Irish Drops" tour with Micho Russel and Tony MacMahon). Mick plays fiddle, sometimes backing himself on Irish and Greek bouzouki. Niall O Callanain adds some (Irish) bozuouki accompaniment and Mick Senior, a fine traditional player himself, joins in on one track. Mick is steeped in Sligo Music and cites as his biggest influence the legendary James Morrison. Like a seal it's deeply rooted but at times full of wanderlust. This is music with flesh and fur, and a rich diet consequently.
Clo Iar-Chonnachta
Walkin' T:-)M

V/A "The Humours of Piping"
Label: KRL/Lochshore; CDLDL 1299; 2001; Playing time: 52.57 min
The Uilleann Pipes originated in the 18th century. Unlike most other bagpipes throughout Europe, the bag is inflated by means of bellows operated by the elbow. The chanter is the main melody instrument with a range of two octaves. The drones supply a continuous drone accompaniment. The regulators are keyed chanters which are operated when chord accompaniment is required. That's, shortly, the instrument. Putting together some young offshoots is not a new idea. The late 1970's "Pipers Rock" compilation displayed the talents of young Spillane & Co. "The Humours of Piping" shows four All Ireland champions from the North of the island. You would expect that pipes and drums set the tone. But, mind you, way back in 1966 the Armagh Pipers' Club set off to promote the civil variant of the war-like instrument. Claire Byrne, Patrick Davey (Craobh Rua), Barry Kerr (solo album "The Three Sisters"), and Darragh Murphy (performed on Millennium Eve with Different Drums on BBC TV, see also review below) are worth to get recognition. A colourful collection of reels, jigs, hornpipes, slow airs, pleasant for your ears, relaxed, and with guitar backing throughout. If you are into pipes, give it a try. If you always wanted some, this is a nice mix.
Walkin' T:-)M

Ronan Browne "The Wynd You Know"
Label: Claddagh Records; CC64CD; 2001; Playing time: 55.56 min
I am often asked the seemingly simple question: Why did you come to live in this country?, says John Hurt and refers to the pipes, this most complicated and impractical of instruments produces music that encompasses everything that I feel about this country of Ireland. Making sounds that are huge, aggressive, and wild. Primeval, lyrical, full of joy and pain, and on occasion humour. He even manages to evoke the landscape that I love so much. Ronan Browne (Riverdance, Afro Celts, Cran, see FW#4) delivers another gem. Piping solo, apart from a guest appearance of fiddler Kevin Glackin and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill on the harmonium. It's the slow airs, that reveals the master's touch, classics like "Eilionóir a Rúin" (the tune with which harper Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh wooed his lady away) or "An Raibh Tú ag an gCarraig?" (Were you at the rock?; the debate is still going on if it's a simple love song or is it meant to be the mass rock at times when Catholic mass was prohibited by the Penal Laws). "If I Were a Blackbird" is a song tune made popular by Ronan's grandmother Delia Murphy, who was renowned for recording and popularising many Irish songs in the 1930's and 40's (exactly born a hundred years ago, Feb 16, the day I am putting this down). "Caoineadh Uí Néill" (Lament for O'Neill) keens the great Hugh O'Neill, the "Lament for the Wild Geese" was sung for Patrick Sarsfield. Ronan also displays his art playing the wooden flute and an Indian bamboo flute (bansuri). As Pat came over the hill, his cailín fair to see, / That whistling low but shrill, his signal's sure to be, / O Mary listen now there is somebody whistling sure, / No mother it is the wynd you know, that's whistling through the door.
Claddagh Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Kevin Rowsome "The Rowsome Tradition"
Label: Kelero; 001; 1999; Playing time: 53.24 min
Five generations of uilleann piping: The Huguenot family "Rousome" came to Ireland in the late 17th century and settled in Co. Wexford. Samuel Rowsome of Ballintore (*1820), a prosperous farmer, introduced piping into the clan, but it was piper and pipe maker Leo Rowsome (1903-70) who is widely regarded as "Rí na bPíobairí" (King of Pipers). Leo performed on the opening of Irish radio in 1926. He co-founded Cumann na bPíobairí Uileann in 1934 and he recorded the very first LP for Claddagh Records in 1959. His pupils make a hall of fame: Liam O'Flynn (Planxty), Willie Clancy, Joe McKenna, Paddy Moloney (Chieftains), Peter Browne (Bothy Band, Afro Celts), Gay McKeon, Al Purcell. The latest offspring of that talented family, Generation 5, grandson Kevin Rowsome (Kevin Rowsome) continues the family tradition. Kevin took his first lessons from his grandfather when he was six years of age. "The Rowsome Tradition" presents a terrific mix of classical pipe tunes, displaying delicate skills on both chanter and regulators, joined occasionally by fiddler (and wife) Lorraine Hickey and backed gently by bouzouki and guitar. Kevin plays a concert pitch (D) set of pipes made by Leo about 1948 and a C-sharp pitched set made by great grandfather William about 1898. Boths sets were restored by German pipemaker Andreas Rogge. Generations 3 and 4 provide six bonus tracks from the archives (1957-69): grandfather Leo, father Leon, and uncle Liam (fiddle).
Walkin' T:-)M

Kevin Crehan "An Bhábóg sa Bhádóg"
Label: J.A. Records; JACD0100; 2001; Playing time: 59.47 min
Kevin Crehan, as well, pays homage to the great memory of his grandfather, in this case the renowned fiddler Martin "Junior" Crehan (1908-99) from West Clare. Many of his tunes are firmly established in the traditional music repertoire, such as "The Mist Covered Mountain", "West Clare Railway", "Farewell to Miltown". A lifelong farmer, Junior played at house and crossroads dances, American wakes, and weddings. He used to say that the country-house dances were the universities of the music. So he was very upset about the "Dancehall Act" from 1935 which forced the music out of domestic houses and the clergy building the parochial halls with its modern dance bands. Junior put his grief into his "Lament for the Country House Dance". Kevin eventually realized that if his grandfather's tunes and style were to be preserved, he himself would have to learn them and record them. So, Kevin went over from America and lived with his grandparents in the summer of 1998. Junior died soon after. In the graveside oration Muiris O Rocháin said: With the death of Junior Crehan an era in the traditional life of West Clare has come to an end. Junior's legacy is Kevin's "An Bhábóg sa Bhádóg" (i.e. doll in the boat, a lax reference to the CD cover depicting Junior's shadow behind Kevin in the cradle), sixty minutes of totally unaccompanied solo fiddle playing. Though a tribute, it is performed with Kevin's own artistry. As Bobby Casey once told me, `Learn from other people but make the music your own.' From Junior I wanted his sense of rhythm and wonderful approach to melody and the sadness of his sound. This touch is not only "lonesome", but magic. The tradition is going to continue.
J.A. Records/Kevin Crehan
Walkin' T:-)M

Fling "The Blackbird"
Label: -I-C-U-B4-T-; CUP8016; 2001; Playing time: 46.14 min
Is there still someone left believing Irish music is a strictly indigenous thing and foreigners are unable to produce real Irish music. Fling is the living proof of the opposite. A "fling" is an Irish dance and a six-piece band from the Lowlands of Holland. Their 2nd album "The Blackbird" starts with the expressive air "Return to Clifden", written by the group's piper. While the slower movements are quite orchestrated, the remaining feed is a diet of Planxty and the Bothy Band. Given the line-up of uilleann pipes, flute, fiddle, guitar, bouzouki, keyboards, and percussion, the instrumental sets remind of some Lúnasa clones (nowhere more clearly than in the marching tune "Lord Mayo"). Songs include the Scottish ballads "Mill O' Tifty's Annie" (aka "Andrew Lammie") and "The Blackbird" (of course), the Irish rebel song "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" and "The Next Market Day", as well as W.B. Yeats' "On Woman" set to music. So, after all, piper Evertjan 't Hart takes it easy: It's silly saying you can only sing opera properly if you are from Vienna. I agree.
Music & Words/-I-C-U-B4-T-
Walkin' T:-)M

Peter Kerlin "Hear the Wind Howl"
Label: S.T.I.R. Music; S.T.I.R. 202; 2002; Playing time: 50.40 min
After breaking up with the well-known German duo "Taters & Pie", it was "A New Day Dawning" for Peter Kerlin, when he took to the road again. Solo, but again Songs and Tunes from Irish Roots. Peter sings and plays octave madolin with the warm feeling of the 70's, Siobhan Kennedy adds some flute, and mastermind Jens Kommnick does the rest (guitar, pipes, and almost anything you can imagine). Take a seat, relax, there is lot of time in Ireland. The instrumental tunes are mostly inspired by landscape ("Leaving Ocean Point", "Off to Wremen", "Austrian Lake", "Donegal Winds"). Peter is in a reflective mood: A man he was about 50, he greeted me hello, he might have been a classmate of mine so many years ago; his hair was thin and greyish, oh God - did he loook old, I wondered what he might have thought of me but I'm glad I wasn't told. He's poking fun on shady tourist parties: Tourist attraction, fun, craic and action, full satisfaction, it's all guarenteed, cause Paddy loves tourists, dark beer and blond women, go live your dreams, admission is free ... You will feel like a king, you're even welcome to sing German songs in a pub on St. Patrick's Day. (I really made this experience.) Covers include "The Holy Ground" by Gerry O'Beirne and the traditional Scottish/English ballad "Geordie". In the end: Music in fine company is such a precious thing ...
Peter Kerlin / S.T.I.R. Music
Walkin' T:-)M

Different Drums of Ireland "New Day Dawning"
Label: Red Branch Records; 001; 2001; Playing time: 41.12 min
Where lambeg drum and fife mingle with fiddle and guitars, I wrote some time ago in a fit of hope. Seems to become true. Different Drums of Ireland bring together the indigenous drums and traditions of Ireland. The lambeg drum, I learned the only European traditional drum music, best known from 12th of July marches, meets the bodhran, the heartbeat of traditional Irish music, not to mention tarbuca, djembe, long drum, snare drum, plus some uilleann pipes, whistles and guitar. This is no regiment's music at all. The traditional Irish reel "My Love is in America", for example, gets a dancefloor treatment. Band leader Ray Arbuckle offers some exquisite songs, e.g. the fine opener "Northern Man". Hos own "Salmon Song" sounds like a Native American chant, in deed, he sings as mesmeric as a didgeridoo. Different Drums have no trumpets to bring down the walls of Jericho, but they are beating against walls separating communities which are not to different anyway. I heard a wise woman say, the drum is the heartbeat of our nations. Listen to my heartbeat.
Different Drums of Ireland
Walkin' T:-)M

Bevel Jenny "Above The Clouds"
Label: Bevel Jenny Records; BJRCD 001; 2000; Playing time: 48.03 min
Bevel Jenny "Still Searching"
Label: Bevel Jenny Records; BJRCD 002; 2000; Playing time: 12.16 min
Traditional music is so strong and deeply rooted in Irish society, that it is either strictly trad/folk and don't cross any musical boundaries at all, or it is strictly pop/rock without digging traditional roots at all. Compared to those more adventurous Scottish colleagues, there are rare exceptions in Ireland who manage to play roots music in an ambient context. (Of course, there's Kila's afropercussive trance folk or Deiseal's folk jazz.) Listening to Bevel Jenny, one would think of a Scottish band or musicians socialized in London or New York. But no, they are really born and bred in Dublin. Bevel Jenny (The Bevel which the dictionary describes as 'a rule with an adjustable arm, used to measure or draw angles or to fix a surface at an angle'. The Spinning Jenny is 'an early spinning machine having several spindles. So you could say that it suggests the band's approach to music - they have approached something traditional from an angle!) set off where Horslips and Moving Hearts quit. The first three tracks (which correspond to the CD single) introduce the style: the original song "Still Searching", the "Castlekelly" set, and the traditional Gaelic song "Raithneach, a Bhean Bheag" (see sound samples). It's folksy pop and groovy, easygoing jazz. In front fiddle, pipes and flutes (guest Eamonn de Barra), backed by keyboards, guitar, bass and drum. It works really fine, whatever the purists say: You can't mix them or else you have a mongrel, only a noise, an obscene sound, a monster, a tortured musical zombie. (S. Tansey) You don't mix Guinness and wine together, because you will make a mess of two great things. (N. O'Grady) I would like to have more of this lewd obscenity. And, mind you, there's "Black Velvet", too.
Bevel Jenny
Walkin' T:-)M

Phamie Gow "Lammermuir"
Label: Greentrax; CDTRAX 224; 2001; Playing time: 61.07 min
Hands across the divide. Trad meets classic. Phamie Gow (see also FW#19), graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, has a sensibility for both worlds. Thus she wrote and performed the orchestral piece "Lammermuir" at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in January 2000, commissioned for the Celtic Connections Festival. Phamie's family cottage at the foot of the Lammermuir Hills in Berwickshire was once owned by Lady John Scott (nee Alicia Anne Spottiswoode, 1810-1900), famed for her passion for Scots poetry and song, and author of some 70 songs, often rewritten older pieces, such as "Annie Laurie", "Durisdeer", and, yes, "Loch Lomond". The year 2000 was the centenary of her death and it was the main inspiration to write the sound track of the Scottish Borders. One secondary inspiration being Gaetano Donezetti's opera "Lucia di Lammermoor" (the tale of an arranged marriage and the tragedy that follows, taken from Walter Scott's "The Bride of Lammermoor"). Phamie herself sings and plays clarsach (harp) and piano. She is joined on stage by Alasdair Fraser (fiddle) and Eric Rigler (uilleann pipes) of Skydance, vocalists Patsy Seddon (Sileas, Poozies) and Mairi Campbell (The Cast), Amanda Davies (Cor Anglais, oboe), Mike Ghia (cello), and James Ross (piano, accordion).
Walkin' T:-)M

More English CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2
Overview: CD Review Contents

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 03/2002

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