Issue 14 6/2000
Label: Greentrax; CDTRAX 188; 1999; Playing time: 54.15 min
Variety is a key term actually - the arrangements are as complex and varied as has become common practice with Scottish folk ensembles, the pace alternates between stomping dance tunes and more reflective melodies, and the lead vocal on the songs is taken in turns by Rod Paterson and Wendy Stewart. Coherence is provided by the recognisable band sound, comprising harps, flutes, pipes, guitars and, where suitable, unobtrusive drums and keyboards.
Further info and MP3 from MusicScotland
Label: Appleseed Recordings; APR CD 1032; 2000; Playing time: 66.44 min
A couple of other songs have Lucy Kaplansky singing harmony vocals, and they are the ones I like best. Some of the recording was done in Mississippi using local musicians (73-year-old drummer Sam Carr and guitarists James "Super Chikan" Johnson and Kenny Brown), giving those songs an edgier, more bluesy feel and sound than the rest.
Lots of illustrious guests, lots of reasons to like it, and I still can't figure out why it simply doesn't excite me. Try for yourself.
Eric Andersen's website; More CD info from Appleseed
Label: Sonifolk; 20138; 2000; Playing time: 62.04 min
The recordings were made between the late 1970s and 1997 in villages and towns around Spain by music enthusiast Pedro Vaquero Sanchez, who set out with a tape recorder trying to capture what he could of Spain's traditional music before it could disappear and be forgotten in an age of televisions, radios and bland international commercial pop.
The album has been compiled by his widow, Mercedes Santamaria, as a tribute to the man and his work. It's a great introduction to and overview of Spain's many different regional folk musics, proving once and for all that there's much much more to it than just the internationally popular flamenco.
Label: Coordinate Records; HT 917; 1997; Playing time: 68.58 min
Label: Coordinate Records; HT 918; 1998; Playing time: 71.37 min
Label: Coordinate Records; HT 919; 1999; Playing time: 70.49 min
Dan Lambert himself sums it up perfectly in the booklet of "Melodies": "Sometimes I think of myself as a piano player, trying for a nice, rich fabric of sound. At other times, I'm a sax player, flying up high with some extended melody line while I provide my own accompaniment down below. Sometimes I'm a cellist or a bassist, singing down in the lower, earthier range of the guitar. And other times, I'm a piper, my sound echoing against the hills and drifting across the moors. And maybe during the last set, after a good black and tan, I'll actually get this picture of myself as a guitar player."
The first two albums use some overdubs, giving them a slightly fuller, richer sound than the third, which explores the possibilities of the solo guitar. This may make "Melodies" the best choice for fellow guitarists who are interested in the technical side of the playing. My personal favourite is "Plaids" which has a few truly wonderful tunes, but there's not much to choose between them and they're all worth seeking out for acoustic music fans.
More info on the albums and Dan Lambert; Another page with Dan Lambert information
Label: Grappa Musikkforlag; GRCD 4170; 2000; Playing time: 74.01 min
The booklet also give a short summary of the contents of each song, so the listener has at least an impression of what is being told - and for the benefit of Norwegian speakers (or language students) the full lyrics are included as well. Musical arrangements are by Sinikka Langeland, who sings (in part unaccompanied) and plays a Finnish 39-string kantele. The slightly harp-like sound of the instrument adds to the bardic quality of the recording. The atmosphere is quiet and intense, transporting the listener into an ancient, medieval world where the oral tradition of mythical storytelling was very much alive.
A very evocative recording which demands a lot of attention from the listener, but rewards the effort.
Grappa Musikkforlag; contact Sinikka Langeland
own label; SH001; 1998; Playing time: 57.02 min
Louisa John-Krol's website
Label: Greentrax; CDTRAX 192; 2000; Playing time: 45.59 min
The will to experiment and to transpose the music into the present also shows itself in the use of unusual instruments - from the stylophone (rarely heard in a folk context since The Lost T-Shirts of Atlantis disappeared from the British scene) to a Swiss Army knife (which apparently makes a good slider for a guitar). The album has a nice, spontaneous feel to it - the musicians sound very much at ease. An interesting musical journey, both innovative and faithful to its roots.
Jack Evans' website; Further info and MP3 from MusicScotland
Label: RAW Records; RAWCD 5; 1999; Playing time: 46.42 min
Nothing particularly wrong with this; it's quite nice really, but not exactly a must-have.
Find out more from Alan Wooley; Tel. or Fax +44 1332 834438
Label: Heilo / Grappa Musikkforlag; HCD 7155; 1999; Playing time: 46.43 min
It is a strange concept and it seems even stranger that it is so successful. This may be because Tone Fedt is a good singer with a strong voice, or it may be because of the creative backing, which is very inventive and full of variety, emphasizing all the atmospheric changes suggested by the singing.
Certainly an album which is difficult to describe! If you've become curious, I suggest a visit to the Føyk website which has some Real Audio samples.
Label: own; LJECD 1; Playing time: 52.08 min
The songs have something to say - the title track in particular deserves to become a classic - and the tunes rock. I bet this lot are a cracking live band. They certainly sound like they're enjoying themselves on the album. A safe bet for anyone who likes the genre, I'd say.
Little Johnny England, P.O. Box 1957, Eathorpe, Leamington Spa, CV33 9YG, England
Label: Jaro Medien; JARO 4230-2; 2000; Playing time: 72.03 min
The Farlanders have an impressive female singer in Inna Zhelannaya, a strong male voice provided by Sergey Starostin, two reed and woodwind players (the former and Sergey Klevensky) and a strong rhythm section including an unusually creative electric bass player (Sergey Kalachev), a drummer and a percussionist. The sound is highly individual, taking Russian folksongs from various regional traditions and transporting them into the modern age, using the unrestricted freedom of expression and spirit of improvisation and harmonising usually only found with jazz musicians. The interplay of the double reed / woodwind (clarinettes, flutes, whistles, cow horns, bagpipes...) is particularly fascinating.
The audience is fairly low in the mix, but it is obvious they were wildly excited by what they were experiencing - here's a chance to share their enthusiasm.
Farlanders webpage; Contact JARO Medien, Bismarckstrasse 43, D 28203 Bremen, Germany; Tel.+49 421 705771 Fax +49 421 74066
Label: Jaro Medien; JARO 4226-2; 2000; Playing time: under 30 minutes
The background: the Bulgarian Voices Angelite choir went on a long concert tour with Sergey Starostin and Mikhail Alperin of the Moscow Art Trio. Spending plenty of time in each other's company, they - inevitably perhaps - started to experiment with singing together, each contributing material from their own traditional background. They were so pleased with the intensity and beauty of the result that they felt it should be heard outside of hotel and dressing rooms. At the Edinburgh Festival in 1999, the opportunity arose to make a recording in Grey Friar's church. And here it is.
The album presents pure unadulterated vocal music, beautiful and deeply relaxing, almost meditative. Perhaps to increase this effect on the listener, it includes about 9 minutes of trailing silence - to stop you rushing back to your stressful lives after diving into this sea of calm.
A journey well worth taking. The only minor criticism is that it is so short. It will leave you wishing for more.
Contact JARO Medien, Bismarckstrasse 43, D 28203 Bremen, Germany; Tel.+49 421 705771 Fax +49 421 74066
Label:ZIC-ZAC / RCA Victor / BMG; 74321724142; 1999; Playing time: 39.52 min
Kayah is an impressive singer - as the press informations says 'Kayah is one of the most interesting female singers of the pop music history in Poland'.
Centerpiece of this album is the singng of Kayah - it is arranged in a quite modern way, but has the feeling of the culture and tradition. The songs have different backgrounds; some are written by Goran, some by Kayah, some are written by contemporary writers (as Iggy Pop, Andrew Marvell) in other languages and then translated into Polish.
The sound is full with much rhythem, the strongest 'melody instrument' is Kayah's strong voice....
There is one booklet with all informations in Polish language, and another one with the translations in English and Italian language (they are big in Italy), a good idea.
A very strong album of Polish world music!
ZIC-ZAC / RCA Victor / BMG
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