Issue 14 6/2000

FolkWorld CD Reviews


Savourna Stevenson "Touch Me Like The Sun"
Cooking Vinyl; COOK CD 192; 2000; Playing time: 39.31 min
"Will she ever be an insider's tip? Had Scottish harper Savourna Stevenson any appearance in one of those triumphant Irish dance shows, she would be one of the highlights", the record label sighs. But she never did, for better or worse. Savourna oscillated between folk, world music and jazz throughout her entire career. She composed for theatre and movies and worked with artists as diverse as June Tabor, Dick Gaughan, Davy Spillane, Aly Bain, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, Danny Thompson, Yehudi Menuhin, Toumani Diabate und den Bhundu Boys, to give an impression of her widespread activities. "Touch Me Like The Sun" is crossing musical boundaries again. Harp meets string quintet and the outcome is a three piece suite of almost timeless elegance. Eddi Reader with her superb voice sings the title track. This is no traditional music. However, what do we know about what the Gaelic harpers played on their chieftain's courts? Certainly not the typical repertoire of today's folkies!
Cooking Vinyl,; PO Box 1845, London W3 0ZA
Walkin' T:-)M

Cliar "Cliar"
Macmeanmna; SKYECD 14; 2000; Playing time: 53.35 min
The Isle of Skye on the Western coast of Scotland is known in Gaelic as "Eilean a Cheo", the Isle of Mist. However, when the air becomes clear, you might get a glance on the musical culture flourishing in the pubs and cottages. Strong enough that Feis an Eilein, the Skye and Lochalsh Festival, developed to the largest Celtic festival in the Highlands of Scotland. Cliar (i.e. clergy) only recently formed to take the tradition into the new millennium. "Traditional + contemporary Gaelic song + highland music", the subtitle of their debuting album says. And thus, everything is almost said. Arthur Cormack and Maggie Macdonald on vocals sing straight from the heart, equally at home with rhythmical puirt-a-beul and lovely ballads. Some instrumental sets and an air are thrown in for good measure, performed by Ingrid Henderson (piano, harp), Mary Ann Kennedy (harp), Bruce MacGregor (fiddle), and Chaz Stewart (guitar). In any case traditional, yet no clerical music at all.
Macmeanmna,; Gladstone Buildings, Quay Brae, Portree, Isle of Skye, IV51 9DB; Tel. 01478 612990; Fax 01478 613263
Walkin' T:-)M

Beyond The Fields "Home"
(Own Label); BTF 001; 1999; Playing time: 13.24 min
"I'm sitting here tryin' to write a song, but nothin' comes to mind" - Singing on dangerous grounds ... But anyway, the Swiss group Beyond The Fields - from the Thurgau area where the Irish monk Gallus once fell into a brier and founded his monastery - consists of a professional jazz-oriented bass player, a classically-trained drummer, a rock/funk guitar player, a mandolin player and singer/songwriter Andre Bollier. The 3-track CD "Home" offers pleasing pop rock, manoeuvring at the egde of folk. It's certainly no album one will purchase due to a review, rather to quicken the appetite of concert and festival organizers who are looking for folk rock groups. Thus, let the boys demonstrate their skills on stage - even beyond the fields of Bischofszell!
Beyond The Fields, Andre Bollier, Fliederstr. 15, CH-9220 Bischofszell
Walkin' T:-)M

V/A "The Great Highland Bagpipe - In Modern Times"
Lismor; LCOM 5278; 2000; Playing time: 54.43 min
Lismor Records released their first album in 1973, called - nomen est omen! - "The Dark Island". Almost three decades later, Scottish music is going from strength to strength. To date Lismor has recorded over 350 albums, most importantly, the music of the Great Highland Bagpipe, the instrument standing almost synonymously with Scotland. Only recently, however, a number of Scottish musicians have started to redefine the boundaries of pipe music. The pipes were put into "regular" musical pieces and into a band setting, with various accompaniments or electronics. The use of other members of the bagpipe family became more familiar. Players use notes and finger movements outside of the traditional range and show the influence of Irish and Cape Breton styles (the latter some claim to be the original, pre-military Scottish style). "In Modern Times" is a a collection of 14 pieces highlighting the new wave of solo pipers (e.g. Fred Morrison, Ann Gray, Jamie Mac Innes and Paul MacNeil) and pipe bands (e.g. the Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, 78th Fraser Highlanders, Peel Regional Police Pipe Band). The entire spectrum is covered, from classical "piobaireachd" and slow airs to march and dance music. The treatment is modern as the title says, but giving no way to easy listening nor to fanciful yet disappointing experiments. "In Modern Times" is a fine collection from the Lismor catalogue on what can be done on the pipes and a good introduction for the beginner as well. And to conclude with the booklet remarks: "If the next twenty years are anything like the last twenty years it will be exciting times for piping and that's a promise."
Lismor,; 27-29 Carnoustie Place, Glasgow, G5 8PH; el. +44 141 4201881, Fax +44 141 4201892
Walkin' T:-)M

Craig Markley "The Lone Raven"
Lone Raven Music; LRM 0501; 1998; Playing time: 55.16 min
Celtic music is continually attracting new audiences and musicians, across the Western ocean as well. Craig Markley's musical backround is rock, jazz and blues, but he is performing with Celtic music group Stark Raven for several years now. Originally intended as solo effort, the Lone Raven became a collaboration of the Celtic scene of the Midwest, featuring members of the Gabriel Hounds, Scartaglen, Silver Arm, and of course Stark Raven, too. The dreamy opener sets the mood what could have been the soundtrack of a pleasant journey to picturesque places. Most songs and tunes are original, plus the traditional Scottish ballad "Bonnie Jean Cameron" and a Breton, Welsh and Irish tune, respectively. Fellow-countryman Tim O'Brien sometimes comes to mind. The music is predominantly quiet and lyrical, but it is no New Age stuff anyway. Instead the new millennium is saluted with an additional CD-ROM application.
Lone Raven Music,; 2731 Hills-Miller Road, Delaware, OH 43015
Walkin' T:-)M

Cathal Hayden: Cathal Hayden
Label: Smallworld
HOOK 001; 13 Tracks, Playing time: 50:42 min
It has been a long time ago, since Cathal Hayden has released his first solo album. About twenty years ago he teamed up with Arty McGlynn, Nollaig Casey and Johnny Ringo McDonagh to record one of the finest fiddle and banjo albums that has ever been recorded (this one, by the way has just been re released on CD, and it's one of the CDs to go for, since it's a real classic..) After a long time with Four Men and a Dog and recently some festival appearences with Paddy Keenan, Cathal has now released his second solo album. And again Arty McGlynn is in the boat, as a guitar player and a producer. It's an essentiall fiddle resp. banjo solo album. And it is another great one by the man from Tyrone !! 12 sets of brilliantly played traditional irish music, some classics like The Connachtsman Rambles or the Dublin Reel played with fresh energy, some great compositions by Brendan McGlinchey (when is his album coming out, by the way ??) and John Carty. Always backed as pleasant as usual by Mr. McGlynn's guitar and on some tracks joined by Brian McGrath's keyboards. One set of slides features also Sliabh Notes' accordian player Donal Murphy. Not to forget one song (The Mountains of Pomeroy) sung by Seamus Begley. All in all a great successor of his first album, the real stuff !
Contact: Becky Morris, Smallworld Music, PO BOX 747, Belfast, Tel: +44 028 382384
Rolf Wagels

b.a.r.k. "tid"
sound propulsion
The first time I heard Tid by the Swedish group B.A.R.K. it irritated me. I didn't know what to think of their music. I had to get used to the monotone singing of lead singer Anders Larsson, to the drumbeats (which are very strong and fast) and to the sampling, which caught me by surprise. Now, a few weeks later, I realize that this is a great CD with a sound of its own but that it takes some time for the music to really get to you. It's a mixture of well-played traditional Swedish music, modern beat and samples. Some songs like "medan man lever" are hypnotizing; others just make me want to dance and lose my head. If you like a mixture of traditional and modern music, you should give this CD a try. It has some very intens moments and believe me, the more often you hear it, the better it gets.
sound propulsion
Eelco Schilder

Flairck "symphony for the old world"
Flairck; 2000
There is no need for me to write much about the background of Flairck's new release, as you can read the article about them in this issue of Folkworld. This 2 CD set will bring you two hours full of surprises. With the help of four solo musicians from all over Europe, Erik Visser (together with his group Flairck) has created a symphony of traditionally inspired music. The combination of newly written material and traditional music is very effective. The music still has the typical Flairck sound but because of the guest musicians it has a lot more to offer. One of the highlights is Marius Preda, playing his cymbalon as if the devil were at his heels. The other three soloists also show that they are masters at their instruments. Listen to Mirella Pirskanen singing while she is playing the violin in her own style, to Roelof Rosendal playing music from the west on his uilleann-pipes and, last but not least, to Eric Vaarzon Morel creating warm flamenco music on his guitar. All this with the help of the Flairck musicians, who create the basis for the soloists to excel. And yes, Natalia Rogalski, Flairck's lead singer can be heard in all four languages.Don't hesitate, however, you won't regret buying this double CD.
Flairck,Tolsteegplantsoen 27, 3523AJ Utrecht Holland; tel.+31-02545691
Eelco Schilder

Kjersti Wiik "ro ro til siraland"
Heilo/grappa; HCD 7159; 1999
Time and again, Norwegian female singers surprise me with their unique sound. Now a new name is heard: Kjersti Wiik. She has been collecting Norwegian folk and religious songs for many years and this is her second CD with a selection of her favourites plus several children's songs. Wiik's voice has a classical ring This makes songs like "Ro ro te fjore" and "Nu ma barnet sove" sound like Christmas carols for cold winter nights. The musical approach is very traditional and only occasionally some electric instruments can be heard. I like that especially in "Nu rinner solen opp av østerlide"; the electric guitar provides this beautiful ballad with a strong ending. The same applies to "A kjipo ho sto pa kølabrøto"; the use of electric instruments adds something extra to the sound of ordinary folktunes. The CD is a peaceful listening experience and very suitable for quiet moments. The music is not particularly surprising but it will help you to relax after a hard day's work.
Eelco Schilder

Lena Willemark "Windogur"
Amigo; Amcd742; 2000
Lena Willemark doesn't make music, she makes pure ear-art. Ten years after the release of her last solo CD, after which she kept herself busy with various other musical projects like the Frifot group, she now comes with Windogur and it's one of the best projects she has done so far. From the first till the last tone her newly created sound, which was strongly influenced by traditional and jazz music, creates a world of melting snow, rolling thunder and silent sunsets. She sings beautiful songs, her violin can call dead people back to the land of the living and in her voice you can hear the animals that live in the barren North. Although the CD is made in the same vein as her earlier work, it sounds better than ever before (and not just technically speaking). Lena and her musicians make music that comes from the heart and you can hear that. This cd will defenitly be one of my favourites this year!
Amigo, box 4113 s-102 62 Stockholm Sweden
Eelco Schilder

Orlek "Salamurca"
Nika; 046; 1998
From Slovenia I proudly present: Orlek, with their CD Salamurca. Feeling desperate? Has the love of your life just left you? Don't worry, Salamurca will bring some sunshine into your boring life! With a blend of dance music as in 'Aufbix Polka', soul music in a song like 'Bistashar Blues' (strange name for a soul song anyway) and blues in 'Davcna Stevilka 39858324'. Call me crazy but doesn't that guitar sound just like Mott the Hoople in their best years? Never mind. This is just great music brought with both pleasure and humour. They are great musicians and know how to party! I would love to see these guys on stage. Well, what can I say…. I FEEL GOOOOOOOD!!
Nika, smartinska 106 1000 ljubljana; Tel. +(Slo)061454968
Eelco Schilder

Petri Hakala "Kirjo"
SAFMD; KICD69; 1999
Petri Hakala, a teacher at the famous Sibelius academy in Helsinki, has played with many other well-known artists from Finland. At the moment he is working on a CD with Varttina accordionist Markku Lepisto.Now he has finished his first solo CD called: Kirjo. Hakala plays several string instruments although the mandolin is his main instrument; on this CD he sometimes changes it for the violin or zither. The CD has a soft, friendly sound and though most songs are newly written, it has a strong traditional flavour. Blues and jazz have also found their way into his music and make for more variation on the CD. It's a collection of fine, well-played tunes. Don't expect any surprises, you will just find good, solid music here.
SAFMD, PL11 69601 Kaustinen Finland; Tel +(Fin)35868604111. Fax +(FIN)35868604222
Eelco Schilder

Mansano "La clef"
Label:MAN; 001; 1999
From France there came a four-song sample CD of the group Mansano, called: La clef. The music, performed on the big organ of the church of Saint-Heller at a temperature of one degree Celsius, is accompanied by violon cello and Breton bombarde and has a strange and mystic atmosphere. It reminds me of a big old-fashioned steam merry-go-round with the wooden horses going up and down. Although the songs sound a bit industrial they compel you to listen and feel this strange atmosphere. Together the organ and bombarde create a very full sound without getting too bombastic. This certainly is an intriguing sneak-preview. The four songs easily held my attention but I'm not sure if this would also go for a complete CD of Mansano's music. Great to hear a few times a year but not too often.
MAN, Tel +(F)0223463292, Fax +(F)0223463292
Eelco Schilder

Oskorri "Ura"
Elkarlanean; KD 556; 2000; Playing time: 54.04 min
The Basque country has lots of things to offer - great landscape with the pyrenees mointains and the sea, some fascinating towns - and great music.
Oskorri are an excellent Basque folk band with a very long history of 27 years and 23 records, having in all those years carried the folk revival in that region. Yet they have not lost their innovative and fresh approach to the Basque traditions. Their new album 'Ura' (=Water) is a mature collection of tunes and songs, most of them quite old, with the songs being the centerpiece of the album.
Oskorri are seven lads - Natxo De Felipe (singing, guitar),Bixente Martinez (e-guitar, mandolin), Josu Salbide (flute, xirula, aita nafarra, etc.) Taxarli de Pablo (bass), Xabier Zeberio (fiddle), Jose Urrejola (sax, flute) and Anton Latxa (guitar, singing).
Kepa Junkera, maybe the world's best folk accordionist and fellow Basque, has (together with Oskorri) produced this album. And Oskorri have invited quitre a few well-known guest musicians - there is, of course the producer Kepa Junkera on his Trikitixa, then we have Michel Bordeleau of La Bottine Souriante on his magic feet, the percussionist Glen Vélez, Ivo Papasov on Clarinet, the five female voices of Faltriqueira and more.
They create a full and melodic sound with a lot of exciting moments. The addition of an saxophon is quite unusual for folk music, but it works very well. My favourite numbers are the songs 'Argi Oilarrak' where the girls of Faltriqueira join Oskorri with their powerful voices and 'Kaka Zuretzako' with the magic feet of Michel Bordeleau. The guests are very well chosen to underline the music of the band - excellent work! Add to this an impressively big booklet and an original bookelt, and out comes the perfect album!
Chritian Moll

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