Issue 15 8/2000

FolkWorld CD Reviews


Salsa Celtica "The Great Scottish Latin Adventure"
G2 (Greentrax Recordings); G2CD7005; 2000; Playing time: 49.57 min
This is real fun - but what else should you expect if you combine Scottish traditional and especially pipe music with hot Latin rhythms and songs? Salsa Celtica's music is unique, the live shows of this band are always great parties, and this CD is just the right release for those few (if at all) hot Scottish summer days.
Salsa Celtica is a big band featuring some of the greatest and very innovative musicians of the Scottish folk scene: the talented Fraser Fifield (Ex-Old Blin Dogs) on pipes and saxophone, fiddler Jenny Gardner or pianist/accordionist Andy Thorburn (well he is not listed on the line-up in the booklet, but in the press notes - have they forgotten him in the booklet, or did he not join the recording??). On the other hand, there is a brass section (based on sax'es), the Guitarist Galo Ceron Carrasco who studied in Chile music, and as one of the special guests on this recording they have the charismatic Latin singer Carlos Peña. The singer plays on this recording a centrepiece, making this Scottish-Latin experience even hotter. The songs and tunes are all composed by band members, with probably the most exciting moments making up those where the Latin sounds go over into a traditional based Scottish pipe tune.
Maybe this one description says all what should be said about this recording: "This is a salsa album made by Scottish musicians in love with Latin music and by South Americ musicians in love with Scotland!"
This album will be definitely a big success in the European World Music scene, and it will be a big hit at any private summer party. Just one question remains for the German reviewer: What symbolic content has the Highland cattle Transrapid train (well it's a transrapid train with Highland Cattle head and tail) drawn in the booklet? Is this HighlandRapid rivalling with our German Transrapid train? Then without doubt German economy has to fear this big and wild competitor....
Salsa Celtica Homepage, G2 (Greentrax Recordings)
Michael Moll

Piccard & Masure "Webesnaren"
Alea/Wildboar; WBM 21012; 2000; Playing time: 52.50 min
Another beautiful album from the Belgian label with the dice in the CD box. Guido Piccard plays the hommel which is the Belgian version of the dulcimer, as well as cister, mandola, mandoline and bouzouki, while Philip Masure is not only a very nice singer, but also knows to play guitars, bouzouki, tin and low whistle and percussion. Both are well known on the Flemish scene for their lovely folk music compositions.
"Webesnaren" sees this duo playing mainly self composed music with a trad Flemish flavour, joined by a few traditionals and one composition of Scottish harpist Wendy Stewart. The music sounds always relaxed and beautiful, having a lot of atmosphere. The two songs are special as well; the one is a traditional Flemish song, the other a strong anti war song written by Guido Piccard, inspired by an old postcard of the First World War. Both songs are presented by Philip Masure in an intimate sympathetic way.
Another convincing CD of Flemish Folk, a delight for the listener.
Alea/Wildboar; Philip Masure's Homepage
Michael Moll

Lester Simpson "One"
No Masters; NMCD16; 2000; Playing time: 57.34 min
Best known as part of the famous high quality English a capella trio Coope Boyes & Simpson, this is the first solo album of Lester Simpson. We knew already from Coope Boyes & Simpson that Lester is a great singer, yet this album has been nevertheless a very positive surprise, as it offers an intimate and touching beauty as not many albums reach. Nine of the eleven poetic songs on the album are written by Lester himself, the other two are one by Jim Boyes and one traditional.If you just read the lyrics in the booklet, they seem to mean anything, but as soon as Lester sings them they come to live...
Lester gives an enjoyable, gentle and passionate singing. On this "solo" album, his singing is joined by soft sounds of cello (Wendy Weatherby), sometimes also by guitar/mandolin/violin (Nigel Corbett) or even by drums (Nigel Jardine). Lester himself plays sometimes melodeon, harmonica and even highland and shuttle pipes, and there are also three nice instrumental sets. The sound of the album reminds at times of some very good music from former times - like older Battlefield Band recordings - while it has its very own destinctive Lester Simpson note on it. Songwriting deeply rooted in English traditions, great musicians, a sensitive singer. Quite a perfect album really; highly recommended.
No Masters
Michael Moll

V.A. "Island"
Alea/Wildboar Music; WBM 21013; 2000; Playing time: 69.11 min
Recorded back in 1983/84 by Flemish radio, this album project tells the impressive story of the many seamen taking in the 19th and early 20th century the dangerous journey to Iceland just to fish cod. Many of them did not find their way back, but died in storms, leaving behind their families in Flanders far away from their graves...
19 songs and tunes tell this long and often sad story, in the form of sea shanties, songs of hope and despair, traditional melodies. The music and texts of the songs were brought together and composed by Piet Sercu and Wannes Van de Velde. A big line-up of musicians and singers was put together for this CD project - alone 10 singers, along to a huge selection of different instruments from flute, fiddle, accordion and hurdy gurdy via guitars, e-bass and percussion to cello, viola and piano. The booklet offers not only touching backgrounds and reports from these seamen, but also a great selection of old photographies around that theme. Only problem might be that all information is only availbale in Flemish language.
Definitely a labour of love, which is very well worth to be taken up in the high profile catalogue of the Wildboar label.
Michael Moll

Blazin' Fiddles "Fire On!"
Label: Own; BFCD001; 2000; Playing time: 50.46 min
What happens if six of the best and most innovative fiddlers of Scotland form along with two accompanists a band just to play together some of their favourite tunes? Well it is quite exactly what could be expected: Mighty and powerful music with a lot of melodies known and loved from the fiddler's other musical projects.
So it's "Fire On!" for the fiddlers Aidan O'Rourke (Tabache), Allan Henderson, Catriona MacDonald, Bruce MacGregor, Duncan Chisholm and Ian MacFarlane, joined by the talents of Andy Thorburn on Piano and Marc Clement on Guitar and Vocals. They are showcasing specific fiddle styles - both Scottish regional and individual styles, presenting a mixture of powerful fast and beautiful slow tunes. Along with a very well decorated booklet, this album is definitely worth to check out!
Blazin Fiddles Homepage, Mail to Bruce MacGregor
Michael Moll

Ashels "Galeria"
Alea/Wildboar; WBM21010; 2000; Playing time: 41.22 min
Ashels are one of the representants of the "Pan-European" Flemish Folk movement, playing an enjoyable mixture of instrumental music from all over Europe, with a particular focus in the British-Irish regions. Based around a family trio (Paul, Ulrich & Koen Garriau) this eight piece band has an exciting range of instruments, giving Ashels' music its own particular flavour. You can hear hurdy gurdy, bagpipes, the hommel (which is the Flemish dulcimer), saxophones, whistles, Krumhoorn, guitar, cello, e-bass, drums.
The material on this album comes from Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Turkey, England and Belgium, some of it being trad, some written by contemporary musicians such as Ivan Drever, Nollaig Casey or Wim Poesen. Yet the highlights of the album are the compositions of Ashels: "Galeria" being born in a rehearsal with Castilian influence, and the "Paulusbouree" by Paul Garriau. The sound of the tunes is often led by the saxophone, and joined by all the tradtional instruments. All in all a great band, yet maybe they should put less emphasis on British-Irish tunes, play more of their own stuff and create more of this all-European music.
Michael Moll

MacAlias "Highwired"
Greentrax Recordings; CDTRAX199; 2000; Playing time: 41.27 min
MacAlias combines two of the great singers of Scotland: Gill Bowman is among others known as a talented singer of Burns songs, while Karine Polwart has received with her young band Malinky rave reviews, and awaits a successful first tour with the Battlefield Band this September.
Now anybody who would expect songs based on Scottish traditional music in MacAlias might be surprised when first listening to "Highwired". It is very much a songwriter album, with strong influences in the arrangements also in the American songwriter scene (with some country elements). Besides own material, there are two Burns songs plus a few trad and contemporary songs. Both women play the guitar, yet for the album they have invited a couple of well-known musicians to join them - among them Rab Noakes (guitars), Fraser Speirs (harmonica), Duncan Chisholm (fiddle) and Colin MacFarlane (diverse string instruments).
My personal highlight is possibly the good old traditional "Fine Flooers in the Valley", where the two beautiful voices just shine. All in all this album was a bit surprising for me, and for my personal taste the American country bit in it was a bit too strong. Yet both women have much talent, and we can look forward for future projects and releases of both of them.
Greentrax Recordings
Michael Moll

Ambrozijn "Naradie"
Label: Virgin; 7243 8498942 2; 2000; Playing time: 40.13 min
Ambrozijn are one of the new forces of the flemish folk music scene. The four lads show what new folk music can sound like. Ambrozijn are Wouter Vandenabeele (violin, fiddle), Tom Theuns (guitar, sitar, mandocello, banjo), Wim Claeys (diatonic accordeon, bagpipes) and Ludo van Deau (singing).
Naradie is their second CD, the first on the major label. They play traditional and selfwritten material from Belgium - the songs are either in Flemish or in French language. Ambrozijn is a very innovative band - they have found there very own and very special sound. It is often amazing how full the sound of a band with only three instrumentalists can be - the lads know how to play and arrange their instruments effectively. The tunes are full of humour and innovation, often the voice as an instrument is added to the sound.
The singer Ludo Van Deau has a powerful voice, he is equally at home singing in Flemish and in French. The French songs remind a bit on the sound of French supergoup Malicorne - no wonder as one of the big inspirations of the band is Gabriel Yacoub and his works.
A special band and a special album - worth to be heard!
Ambrozijn's homepage, FolkWorld's Ambrozijn interview
Christian Moll

Xeliba "ferruñu"
Fono Astur; FA. CD. 8793; 2000; Playing time: 45.43 min
Asturias is a beautiful small region in the north west of Spain. It has breathtaking mountains, an interesting shore line and nice inhabitants. This region has strong connections to the 'celtic' countries Ireland and Scotland.
The band Xeliba was founded in 1993 to preserve the Asturian cultural heritage. They have done a lot of field work and research for this. Xeliba presents traditional material and in the 'asturien way' composed material played on acoustic instruments: guitar, bouzouki, fiddle, asturien bagpipe, double bass, flute, diatonic accordion and of course vocals.
You can feel the strong musical connections to the Irish and Scottish music - this connection was strong because the region is surrounded by high mountains, and in ancient times it was easyer to cross the sea then to cross the mountains. But nevertheless the Asturian music has its own character. Xeliba are presenting this freshly but in the style of an folk band.
Nice to see more and more younger musicians in Europe to discover their own heritage!
Fono Astur
Christian Moll

The Transsylvanians "jo!"
Label: own label; 1999; Playing time: 51.04 min
The Transsylvanians are presenting 1000 year old Hungarian music - and this in an up-to date style. They are based in Berlin, Germany, but at least half of the musicians hale from eastern Europe.
There music is mostly up-tempo folk rockish - great to dance to. The line-up on this album is singer / double bass player Szilvana, András Tiborcz (violin, bass, vocals), Andrej Soudnitsyn on violin, the accordeonist Sabine Schein, Hendrik Maaß on guitar and vocals and finally the drummer Thomas Leisner. As a special guest you can hear Dénes Tiborcz play the sax and sing on own track.
If you are interested in eastern European party folk music, this band is the right one for you. They are a great live band - if you are getting the chance, go and party along with them!
The Transsylvanians' homepage
Christian Moll

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