Issue 26 10/2003
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Fromseier Rose "Contradiction"
Label: Nunora Records; NUNR CD001; 2003; Playing
time: 54.45 min
Fiddle and piano can be a genius combination - this is definitely the case with
the duo Fromseier Rose. Their music is light and relaxed, but at the same time
full of passion and emotion. The two musicians have a completely different background.
But as soon as they played the first tune together (at the Copenhagen Irish
Festival in 2001) they realised, that they have the same musical passion and
that their chemistry is working perfectly together.
Ditte Fromseier Mortensen hails from the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic
sea. She started to play classical violin at the age of four, and has studied
and still studies music in England and Ireland. Michael G. Rose was born in
Boston and influenced by the New England music scene. After moving to Denmark
he has studied Latin Jazz, but he still is very active in the folk music scene.
Their music is based on traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, New England,
and they add some own compositions and influences from classical music, latin,
jazz to present a fascinating sound experience which is close, but not too close
to the traditions.
As a very special bonus of this album, they asked the finest Irish singer to
join them for three songs: the great Niamh Parsons sings the traditional "After
Aughrim's Great Disaster" about the battle of Aughrim in 1691, the Fairport
Convention song "Crazy Man Michael" and the traditonal Scottish song
"Blantyre Explosion" about a mining disaster in 1877. All three songs
are sung full of passion - and perfectly backed on fiddle and piano. As a great
lover of Niamh's singing I would say: alone for these three songs the album
has to be in collections... Yet the 9 instrumental titels are as brilliant as
A breathtaking album!
Homepage of the artist: www.fromseierrose.com,
contact to artist: email@example.com
Pekka Lehti & Outo Voima "Sohjo"
Records; AICD 004; 2003; Playing time: 38.19 min, Finland
Music from Finland is often very special - somehow in Europe's northeast musicians
have other ideas than in the rest of Europe. Pekka Lehti with his unique music
is no exception...
Pekka Lehti plays the upright bass.His band Outo Voima (= unknown force) is
named after the first band (a punk rock group) Pekka played in about 20 years
ago. Outo Voima consist of the percussionist Marko Timonen and Joukou Kyhälä
on Harmonium, harmonicas, melodica, claviola, overtone singing and kantele.
All the compositions are made by Pekka Lehti, except one that he has made together
with his band and one one of Jokou Kyhälä.
I really don't know exactly why - but the music of Pekka Lehit & Outo Voima
fascinates me a lot. It is not easy to be classified, it is very catchy, there
are several instrumental earwigs, it is inspiring and often unexpected things
happen. The tunes are somehow nostalgic, but still in today's times.
As I said it is unique music - and if you now still do not know, what music
they are playing, go and buy 'Sohjo'!
Homepage of the artist: www.pekkalehti.com,
contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniele Sepe "Anime Candide - war and love
fy 8052; 2002; Playing time: 57.23 min
If you cannot decide which genre, or which kind of music you should listen to,
give Daniele Sepe a try. This musician from Napoli really knows how to mix up
so many styles as possible on just one CD. But the miracle is - it works.
Daniele takes different sources for the spirits of the songs - there ist traditional
material: e.g. "Nduniella a Abruzzo" song dating back to the end of
the 19th century, "Ce me pe ti zog" is about dance songs from the
Arabesh comunities in Italy which he mixed a Serbian repenitza called Niska
Banja. He has taken Sammuchella from an opera of Raffaele Viviani - but it sounds
now a bit like music in a circus... Then there are two songs by Portuguese songwriters
Ronda das Marrafivas by José Alfonso and Menina estas a Janela by Vitorino.
So you can see he has lots of different sources to get his music from.
Daniele himself plays sax, clarinet, flute and keys. He has gathered seven singers,
one storyteller and eleven instrumentalists (on e.g. guitar, trumpet, oboe,
bass, drums, cymbalon, bagpipes, dobro, accodeon) to play out the emotions for
the war and the love songs...
If you like to mix up your emotions - go for 'Anime Candide'!
contact to label: email@example.com
The pickPocket ensemble "If I Were A Highway"
Label:New world cafe (own label); 2002; Playing
time: 41.45 min
The pickPocket ensemble is an instrumental quintet from the United States of
America that has taken my attention. Their music is somehow very light and harmonic
(I do not mean easy listening!). The tunes are creeping through the ears into
my mind - where they will stay for long.
It is not to easy to pigeonwhole the music of the pickpockets - it is melodious
instrumental urban acoustic chamber folk music of the world with edges of jazz
klezmer swing etc ... and this mixture makes up wonderful music..
The five musicians are Marguerite Ostrovski on fiddle, Will High on double bass
and ac. bass guitar, Tim Fox on guitar, Aharon Wheels Bolsta on percussion and
finally Rick Corrigan on accordian. Rick does also write all this fine tunes.
I can imagine to hear their music somewhere in a nice street cafe - but also
on the big music festivals... Hopefully this ensemble will find their way also
to Europe soon!
Homepage of the artist: http://www.pickpocketensemble.com/,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Terra Folk "Pulover ljubezni - jumper of love"
Label: own label; MnetCD03.; 2002; Playing
time: 64.21 min
Music from Slovenia is not to often heard in in the folk scene, yet there is
some good music to discover. Terra folk is a young band who likes to play very
different kinds of music. They are starting with Slovenian music, then Balkan,
Israelian, Romanian, Macedonian, Irish, Mexican, Pop, Bosnian, Yugoslavian,
French, German and finally they are playing a good portion of Klezmer music.
In the band the clarinet of Bostjan Gombac is very dominant, Bostjan also plays
whistles and bodhran and is the lead singer. Then there are Danijel Cerne on
guitar and Bojan Cvetreznik on violin and as guest Ziga Golob on double bass.
The music is very straight forward and energetic - maybe especially because
it is a live recording... Most of the material I do like a lot, although there
are one or two numbers wich they maybe shouldn't have published on CD and just
played in live...
But nevertheless it is a nice CD - and a good live act it seems to be as well.
By the way - Terra Folk are still looking for an international label for distribution
- if you are interested, get in touch with them soon...
Homepage of the artist: http://www.terra-folk.org,
contact to artist: email@example.com
Denny Bartley "Midnight Feast"
Label: ADA Recordings; ADA103CD; 2002; Playing
time: 51.37 min
Denny Bartley is an Irish singer, who is living in England. Denny forms a trio
with Chris Sherburn and Nick Scott as Last Night's Fun.
Denny has a very own way to interprete his songs. His voice is very full and
energetic - he likes to sing some words very longish and loud, often with some
vibrations. His singing is somehow archaic and haunting. His interpretations
are giving total new impressions to sometimes well known songs.
This album is a real solo album, only on one track there is a guest guitarist,
apart from this it is just the pure Denny - voice and guitar, and an impressive
collections of well chosen songs: One traditional (the blind harper), all the
others are from contemporary songwriters: 'The father's song" of Ewan McColl,
"King of Rome" of Dave Sudbury, "Nancy Spain" of Barney
Rush, "Love me in Eden" of Pete Morton or "Midnight Feast"
of Lal Waterson and Oliver Knight.
His singing style is special and very impressive - I like it.
Contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maite Dono "O Mar Vertical"
XC0302CD; 2002; Playing time: 40.53 min
Maite Dono's debut CD "Corazón de Brief"
was one of my favourite albums of recent years, so I was quite excited to receive
this CD. I like the style of the young female singer from Galicia in northern
And I am not disappointed - Maite's singing style is similar as on her first
album - very melodious, from quiet to powerful, with lots of emotion. Still
the piano playing of Manolo Gutierrez is dominating the instrumental sound.
But this time there are some more instruments on this album: double bass, sax,
drums, tabla and percussion, guitar and violin - but the magic voice is always
the focus on the album.
Her repertoire is on this album also wider - traditional songs, material written
by herself, and other songwriters.
Even if you cannot understand the language, you can feel the spirit and hear
Felippo Gambetta "Pria Goaea"
fy 8052; 2002; Playing time: 49.01 min
This is a great album. Felippo Gambetta is a young italian accordionist and
composer. The music is innovative folk music with strong roots and lots of different
The Filippo Gambetta trio constists of Filippo (melodeons), Claudio De Angeli
(acoustic guitar) and Riccardo Barbera (double bass). And there are several
guest musicians on this album: Simona Barbera (voice), Marco Fadda (percussion),
Beppe Gambetta (acoustic guitar), Alessio Pisani (bassoon), Piero Ponzo (clarinet),
Oliver Schroer (e-Violin), Fabio Vernizzi (e-piano) and Sandra Wong (nyckelharpa).
The music of Filippo is not to easy to pigeonhole - it is very melodious and
will often stay on your mind after listening. It is a music full of emotion
- music to listen to and to dream. One of the best albums of the last year...
contact to artist: email@example.com,
contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Betti Zambruno &Tendachent "al lung de
la riviera - ballate piemontesi dalla raccolta Sinigaglia"
Ethnosuoni; ES5327; 2003; Playing time: 38.08 min
This excellent album is the product of a project. Maurizio Martinotti had the
task to create a CD with old peasant ballads from Piemont. The Piemont acted
always as a filter between western Europe with a stronger ballad traditon and
the rest of italy - so the tradition of this kinds of ballads are strong in
Recently a good edited version of a collection of such peasant songs was published.
The songs were collected at the end of the 19th and the beginnig of the 20th
century by Leone Senigaglia. Piemont is said to be the cradle of peasent ballads.
Out of this collection 14 songs has been chosen to be presented on this album.
The singer on this album is Betti Zambruno, she has a rich and full voice with
lots of passion. Her voice is ideal for this kind of slower ballads. And to
create a really special album Maurizio decided to back the songs with his great
band Tendachent. Tendachent are six musicians: Maurizio Martinotti (voice, hurdy-gurdy,
mandola, frame drum, jews harp, whistle, keys), Enrico Negro (guitars), Bruno
Raiteri (violin, viola, keys), Sergio Caputo (violin, percussion), Gerardo Savone
(bass) and Luciano Ali (drums).
A great showcase of old Piemontese ballads presented with todays folk music.
contact to label: email@example.com
Fred Morrison with Jamie McMenemy "Up South"
CDLDL 1313; 2003; Playing time: 52.57 min
Up south - the south end of South Uist (an island of the outer hebrides in Scotland)
is always referred to by Uist people as "Up South". Fred Morrison
named a tune after this, and Fred's new album got the same title.
Fred Morrison is in my opinion the finest Scottish piper. It took quite a while
since his last album 'The sound of the sun'
which was published in 1999... But it was worth waiting for. This album is an
album purely of the two musicians: Fred Morrison on pipes (highland, uilleann
and border) and low whistles and Jamie McMenemy on bouzouki, just on three tracks
the genius guitarist Tony McManus sneeks in.
Many of the cracking tunes are written by Fred himself. He writes powerful unforgettable
tunes which will go round you head for hours.
Hopefully we won't have to wait another 4 years until the next album!
Homepage of the artist: www.fredmorrison.com
John McCusker "Goodnight Ginger"
PRCD09; 2002; Playing time: 51.17 min
Kate Rusby & John McCusker "Heartlands"
PRCD11; 2003; Playing time: 67.08 min
For 11 years, the Glaswegian fiddle master with the mohican haircut, John
McCusker, grew up with the Battlefield
Band (-> FW#5,FW#6,FW#12,FW#19,FW#23).
He guested on some 150 albums, had been awarded Folk Musician of the Year by
the BBC, and composed an endless series of clever tunes (played from Sharon
Shannon to Natalie McMaster). And yet he hasn't arrived at the age of thirty.
So he's still to trust (as the saying goes). The majority of tunes on "Goodnight
Ginger" is novel. "Leaving Friday Harbor" has been recorded by the Batties before
on their album with the same title (-> FW#12);
"Oor Pal Davy" is a lament for the late Davy
Steele (-> FW#5,FW#12,FW#18,FW#21).
The band is tight: John McCusker's favourite guitar player in the whole world
Ian Carr (-> FW#10), who plays the
wrong chords in the wrong rhythm, but makes it all sound perfect; Andy Cutting
(-> FW#10); Michael McGoldrick (-> FW#13);
Kris Drever(-> FW#16,FW#23);
Iain MacDonald and Ian MacFarlane (-> FW#24);
John Doyle (-> FW#17); Simon Thoumire
Brian Finnegan (-> FW#22); and so on.
I just saw it as a chance to get all my pals round, have a bit of fun and
play a few tunes, John says. I write tunes as I go along so it all came
together very spontaneously. I never have a big plan about anything. We just
play around with ideas in the house and then go out in the studio and record
them, it's great! If only every fun would produce such an terrific art.
And after all, John's musical and partner in life, singer Kate
Rusby (-> FW#17,FW#20),
contributes "The Bold Privateer", an old song set to a new tune by Phil Cunningham
Scene change: Cuckolded darts player Colin takes a trip on his Honda moped through
the rolling hills of North England to win his wife back, from the English Midlands
across The Peak District and to Blackpool. More or less that's the plot of Irish
director Damien O'Donnell's new film "Heartlands" (he had an hit with "East
is East" some time ago). Kate and John not only wrote the soundtrack, but appear
in a folk club scene themselves. Alternating new instrumentals by John with
familiar songs by Kate set the atmosphere: unfaithfulness, lost love, etc. Again
I'd like to sigh: not because of the melancholic story, but I'm longing for
much more traditional and folksy film music.
Siúcra "Here Among Strangers"
label; ESL CD 003; 2002; Playing time: 48.07 min
Whoever the strangers in question are, an Irish proverb has it, that there
are no strangers here, only friends who haven't met yet. So you will feel
familiar with Boston-based trio Siúcra
and their traditional Irish mix of songs and tunes. Siúcra are Beth Leachman
(vocals, bodhran) and Shannon (flute, whistle) and Matthew Heaton (guitar).
The music is flute-driven; the sound of a flute makes my heart ring,
as the song goes. Minimum instrumentation but to maximum effect. There are original
compositions too. "Maeve's Grave" is a ballad inspired by Beth's visit to the
burial site of the legendary Queen Maeve at the top of Knocknarea in County
Sligo, the "Anniversary Reel" a graceful slow reel written by Shannon. And so
is the sound in general. Siúcra means sugar in Irish, and the music is
sweet as sugar but tough as candy. Lovely songs, lovely tunes, lovely to listen.
Lyd; 2L8; 2002; Playing time: 41.49 min
Lyd; 2L17; 2003; Playing time: 47.02 min
Lyd; 2L11; 2002; Playing time: 48.54 min
Lyd; 2L3; 2002; Playing time: 47.20 min
Norwegian Lindberg Lyd (2L) is more than a label,
rather a project to bring down barriers and represent acoustic music
free from the strains of genre. Morten Lindberg, head of 2L, says: You
can have a musical experience and the feeling of a musical mood independent
of what kind of genre. what we are interested in is a musical experience within
an acoustic world, and there is no limit, we don't have any limits. Thus
2L is doing traditional and folk music as well as jazz and classic and everything
inbetween. They usually leave the sterile studio environment and record in churches
and concert halls. Four examples here (see some other reviews in the German
Flukt means soaring and spill means play. An apt description,
because this folk trio music is going for high altitudes. Flukt consists of
Sturla Eide Sundli on fiddle and Hardanger
fiddle, Øivind Farmen on accordion, and Sondre Meisfjord on bass. The
repertoire is Scandinavian to the heart, traditional dance tunes, religious
songs and a bit of the original. But sometimes they wander between the worlds,
e.g. squeezing a tune written by Sturla between two Irish reels. Great tunes,
tight playing. Additionally guest singer Heidi Skjerve gives us three songs.
Sturla Eide Sundli is partner in another
project, here with acoustic guitarist and occasional Irish bouzouki player Andreas
Aase calling themselves simply sturla|andreas. Both are based in Trondheim,
the record was done at the Sofienberg church in Oslo. The traditional fiddler
and the contemporary guitar player, yet it's quite sensible accompaniment, try
to find the core of the tune. It follows that even Norwegian traditional
music is rocking; the marches and springleiks, tunes that reach back to the
1850's. On the other hand, even "St. Ann's Reel," the mother of all American
old-time fiddle tunes, sounds as it ever was a Nordic tune. Music that's glimmering
(I assume it's the same meaning in Norwegian).
Majorstuen is, I'm told, a township
of Oslo. The group with the same name perfectly embodies the spirit of 2L. This
six-piece ensemble, described as Sibelius meets the Barra MacNeils, has
to be compared with the Irish Bowhouse Quintet (-> FW#12).
That means playing traditional tunes and own compositions in the folcloristic
mould, but by conservatory-trained musicians of Norges Musikkhøgskole
(Norwegian State Academy of Music in, you guess, Majorstuen) and semiclassical
instrumentation: six fiddles, sorry violins!, and the occasional viola and cello.
Even a chamber ensemble wants to have fun.
The magnificent steel blue of a Winter Moon, an eerie warm light on the cold
snow... That's the inspiration for Vintermåne,
which means - certainly - winter moon. Vocalist Anne Gravir Klykken,
accompanied by saxophone (Frøydis Grorud), piano and keyboard (Torjus
Vierli) and occasional percussion and flute, perform a mixed bag of Norwegian
folk songs. The magic of the traditional tunes hangs in the air of Lommedalen
church where the tracks have been recorded. There is no major development in
sound throughout the disc; the music flows on and on and on. Kind of lazy, laid-back
jazz tunes. But it warms in the cold of winter.
Lindberg Lyd AS
David Rovics with Allie Rosenblatt "Hang a
Flag in the Window"
label; 2002; Playing time: 70.16 min
There are Americans now hanging a flag in the window and boycotting French
Fries and the like. Well, we will hear American music anyway. David
Rovics (-> FW#23) will certainly
not hang a flag in his window, though George W. Bush has certainly
been a great inspiration, but the general themes of my songs have not changed,
only the details. It might be said that the main theme that I keep coming back
to is terrorism. Sometimes to the terrorism of small groups of fanatics, but
much moreso to the incomparably more deadly and widespread phenomenon called
state terrorism. The terrorism not just of one, two or four planes, but of an
air force. Recorded in September 2002, only the "Song for Basra" has been
written before - if I could sing a song for every bomb that flies, I'd sing
each and all the days, if I wrote a love letter to each corpse as it is carried,
I'd never still my pen -, most songs originated after September 11th to
add one more voice of dissent against Pax Americana and present songs
that contain one or more words that the FCC
doesn't like, such as "Fuck the FCC!" A bitter insight after the bombing
of a civilian town in Afghanistan: In the village where nothing happened,
the houses collapsed in the morn. Not one terrorist died there, but maybe some
were born. Mind you, the next attack is coming... More lighthearted,
we learn of a custom David picked up in Germany: If the revolution starts
at home, then let me tell you this: Stand up for your rights, boys, but sit
down to piss.
Stephan Smith "New World Worder"
2003; Playing time: 41.44 min
The New York-based Virginian singer/songwriter/activist Stephan
Smith was looking for a way, a sound, a poetry, a music to rejoin a world
I saw falling apart. In New York he toured with Allen Ginsberg and got
a lot of people trying to take me out for dinners on corporate acounts telling
me I was a star, that they want to put out my records, that they don't want
me to expose that I have Arabic descent even if I'm a champion fiddler and don't
look like a terrorist. Too much for that prophet-singer and artist-provocateur:
I have no other choice, I have to work for peace. I have in my own blood
just about all the major factions currently at war on this planet; my father
is Iraqi, his mother is part Kurdish, my mother is Austrian, half Christian,
half Jewish, and a part of her family was killed in the second world war. On
top of all that, I was born and raised in the south. So, simply from a genetic
perspective, I need peace, and I know that if I can be at peace with myself
and sing like I do, the world can also be at peace and sing together.
Stephan is singing, ranting, rapping with a Steve
Earle-like voice, accompanying himself with acoustic and electric guitar.
The album's title track is a rap song (in the old days called talking blues):
I come to talk to you, I didn't write this song to preach, I ain't verbose
like rappers talkin' hype, I come to break down borders, redefine the new world
order, I'm a New World Worder talkin' bout the world to be. Freakin' out Time
Warner and the FCC, this ain't no kiddie cuss
words but real controversy. Stephan is rejoicing: It's like, how to bring
rap and the protest singer together — over a guitar but without the beats, you
know, like Dylan meets 21st-century youth culture. Stephan doesn't bow to
the "Merchants of Lies" who advertise peace while you bomb from the skies,
and he is "Proclaiming Jubilee" for the protagonists of the globalization struggle,
the civil rights movement of our generation. "The Bell," recorded with
Pete Seeger (see review below), adresses
the Gulf War. The lyrics are based on the traditional ballad "The False Knight
on the Road," where the devil tries to lure away a boy on his way to school:
I'm sounding drums of war, said the man at his desk. I will not fight the
war, said the child, and he stood.
Stephen tours the country with his guitar, spreading his message: Let me
know where to be and I'll come. We need all the help we can get to bring this
message through the clogged veins of America, and there is no space or audience
too small, too big, too isolated, or too overwrought to reach. And so Stephen
is almost single-handedly taking the protest song into the 21th century. The
war may be over, but the struggle continues...
Universal Hobo Records/Synchronic
Townes Van Zandt "Live at The Old Quarter"
255 041; 2003; Playing time: 92.46 min
Won't you lend your lungs to me, mine are collapsin', sings Townes
Van Zandt (1944-97 -> FW#23). Well,
certainly not that night in 1973. It's now exactly the 30th anniversary that
the Texas troubadour played (and recorded) at The Old Quarter in downtown Houston,
Texas, where blue jeans and blue collars came together to enjoy the good
music and cold beer along with other diversions that include a fresh 'smoking'
deck on the roof in full view of the county jail cells in the nearby courthouse.
Not the most spectacular of concerts, this double CD features all tracks of
the original vinyl album, i.e. six more than on previously available CD releases,
plus four video clips from the Netherlands in 1990 and all the lyrics in the
booklet. The classics are all there: "Pancho & Lefty", "Two Girls", and the
first serious song he ever wrote, "Waiting Round to Die." Townes is strumming,
singing his blue and wailing song, and talkin' the blues. Songs of
solitude and hardship, of love and redemption. Tales of experience and survival.
In his own words: it's plain to see, the sun won't shine today, but I ain't
in the mood for sunshine anyway. Unfortunatly, Townes can't sing the
blues all night long like he used to. As Diane
Craig put it: He may be long gone from this room, but his melodies rise
up and fill the air. May we strive to measure up to the poet we've admired who'll
continue to inspire. So let's sing some Townes songs in remembrance, if only
'for the sake of the song'.
More English CD Reviews: Page 2 - Page
3 - Page 4 - Page 5 -
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page
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