Issue 18 04/2001

FolkWorld CD Reviews


Epinfrai "Cercando"
Label: Ethnosuoni; ES5310; 2000
From Northwest Italy comes the group Epinfrai. They just released a new cd called: Cercando. Epinfrai plays traditional tunes in new modern arrangements. They use instruments such as piano, guitar, French horn, low whistle and the Piffero. They choose beautiful tunes but…I have a problem with the sound of the low whistle and the Piffero. Did they forget to tune their instruments? Is this a producer's fault? From the first song Alessandria to the Mazurca di Ivano it's like I'm listening to an instrument that is constantly out of tune and it sometimes hurts my ears to listen to it. That's why I like Cercando, the final song so much: It's only played at the piano. I tried to get used to the music on this cd, but even after hearing it many times, I can't get used to the sound. I'm very sorry to tell you that this is not the cd I expected Epinfrai to deliver.
Eelco Schilder

Klezroym "Sceni"
(Anagrumba/CNI; gdl12163; 2000
During the last two months I heard many cd's with Klezmer music and this cd by Klezroym, called: Sceni is definitely one of the best I've heard in a long time. Klezroym gets her inspiration from the traditional music of the Askenazite (East-European Herbrew community) and from the Sefordite (Spanish Herbrew community). They use contemporary jazz and Mediterranean influence freely in their interpretation of the tunes. The result is a balanced and very easy to listen to cd. Listen to a song like Canzone dell amore perduto. Beautifully sung by lead-singer Eva Koen. This song gives a feeling of sadness with a smile. And that is exactly what I like in the sound of Sceni. It has a nostalgic atmosphere brought with respect for the songs in a modern, free new style. This also reflects in using an old recording of Radio freylach, a well-known tune, but not only let us hear the old recording, they also give their own interpretation of the song and although they are both different approaches, the feeling is the same. Klezroym delivered with their new cd Sceni, a beautiful new cd worth having in your cd collection.
Eelco Schilder

Archedora "Archedora"
Ludos/CNI; ldl12178; 2000
Archedora is a musical project around two ex-members, Rachele Colombo and Corrado Corradi, of the well-known Venetian folk group Calicanto. Together with a few quest musicians they recorded eleven strong songs with their roots into the Venetian folk music and surrounding. Colombo sings her songs with passion. Listen to Ridi bepi, Colombo sings it as if she wants something very badly but just can't get hold of it. You hear the desperation and emotion in her voice. Helped by the soft en subtle company of the violoncello and the Bandoneon she lifts the music to a warm and emotional level. I like the songs Corradi sings in duet with her. He has a voice like a father that sings to his daughter that everything will be all right and that she should stop worrying. You can hear this in E nuvoe but even better in Contame that has a dangerous violoncello chasing the singers to the end of the song. Archedora is a cd full with atmospheric songs. A beautiful musical experience from Italy and especially the Venetian region.
Eelco Schilder

La grande bleue "Koktel musika"
Buda; 82214-2; 2000
The title of the new cd by La grande bleue makes us aware of what will be on this cd. Its called Koktel musika and it sure is. A wide group of musicians joined the group to garanty a mixture of music from different regions. It starts with Minnak Mabato, a song from Yemen accompanied by a sober violin and percussion. Also Oasis has this typical Middle-Eastern sound with great strings and howling sax. Kalamatianos brings the listener to Greece and the song sounds much lighter than the earlier songs from the East. The journey goes on and we visit Italy with a happy, bit tenora influenced, songs called Ciuri ciuri and Mi vottu e mi rivottu with great theatrical vocals. Raksa si Mohamed comes from Egypt and is a bit boring jazz song. We travel on to Macedonia with a short stop in Somalia for the song Male male. In Macedonia we hear the East-European Gypsy influence in a song like Misino horo. La grande bleue is a group of good musicians who recorded a strong cd with 17 nice songs. At some occasions they failed to put enthusiasm in the music but in general this is a strong and recommended cd.
Eelco Schilder

Hiss "Tut Buße"
Intercord; 484593-2; 1998
The cd is already three years old and I don't think I'm going to give much attention to this cd by Hiss. From the sound of it, Hiss will have great success at weddings or other celebrations. Their music is easy to listen to and will help to make the evening to a success. But don't expect any complicated songs. The lyrics are predictable and the music is like the Germans have been making for the last few decades. Probably this cd will be a nice memory for everybody who has been at their show. For all other people, it hasn't enough to offer.
Eelco Schilder

Sågskära "Apelgrå"
Drone; drocd023; 2000
Sågskära was founded in 1981 and the name comes from an old nursery rhyme from Sweden. They try to accomplish a harmony between the mediaeval drones and the three-chord harmonies of the 19th century. Most of their songs come from the Småland region and has often been learned from old singers by mouth. This Apelgra cd is their latest work and it contains traditional Christmas songs and tunes from Sweden. The beautiful voice of Ulrika Gunnarsson and the sound of the traditional instruments such as the Hurdy gurdy, violin, hummel and hornpipe make of this album an intimate piece of music. We know that this are Christmas songs but the most people wont be able to understand the language and they will just hear the soft ballads and feel the warm atmosphere of the old Swedish music. I think that Apelgra is a big gain for the Swedish traditional music scene.
Eelco Schilder

Kurbits "Folkmusik från Dalarna vol.1"
Drone; drocd018; 1999
Kurbits is a group of young fiddlers from the county of Dalarna in Sweden. Dalarna has always been known for its rich musical history and on this cd called: Folk-musik från Dalarna vol.1, Kurbits gives their interpretation of the old tunes and songs. Six very good violin players and one singer make clear to us that also the new generation cares about the old traditions. They do this in a very decent and relaxed way. Not that their interpretation of the old tunes is very modern and new. No, they choose to stay close to the roots and I think that is a good choice. They show that their music is alive and I think that its good that each generation picks up their musical roots and let the world hear that even in the time of computers and electric instruments, traditional music is the basic of all music. This cd is not a surprise but very well done!
Eelco Schilder

Envisa "Flod"
Drone; drocd014; 1998
What would you do if you found out that two young girls were stuck in an elevator and you are a folksinger? YES! You would start singing to keep up the moral! But what if you are not the only folksinger and two others join you in your "keeping up the morale" concert? Right! You start a music group! That is exactly what happened at the Falun folk festival in 1995. And now they released a cd called Flod. Two female and one male singers with different musical background, show us on Flod their personal interpretation of old choral music, folksongs and dance rhythms. They changed the song into more modern sounding compositions and without any instrument they succeeded to create a rich sound with a smile. Their voices are strong in both harmony and solo parts. I like the way they play with their music and occasionally surprise me with the direction they take. I think I call this a friendly cd.
Eelco Schilder

Various artists "More voices from past and present"
Jaro; 4232-2; 2000
The German Jaro label started in 1995 with a special cd series with the human voice as central theme. Now, after five years they released the cd: More voices from past and present. Here they present a few highlights from the years before. Always nice to get to know a few artists better. You will find tracks of groups like: Sarband, La voce, trinovox, Angelit and Huun Huur Tu. Together with the cd comes a small booklet with information in German and English about the artists and the cd's they released on the Jaro label. Nice sampler.
Eelco Schilder

Broken Arrow "Four Ways to Centre"
Broken Arrow; 1999; Playing time: 64.45 min
"Four Ways to Centre" is the 2nd album from Toronto based Broken Arrow. "Four Ways To Centre's source is in the place of crossroads, of transition, when one can see the road behind and must choose the way ahead. It is the threshold of change where the skeletons of the past rattle in the winds of the future; where the perplexed ego stands sniffing at the presence of Spirit." Got it? In the heart of the centre there is true poetry, but there's four ways to it, at least: acoustic pop, jazz, folk, latin. The line-up of guitars, bass and drums supports the relaxed voice of singer Paul Humphrey. The Toronto Sun voted Broken Arrow number one of their "Anti-Hit List Best of 2000". Isn't that impetus enough to lend an ear?
Broken Arrow, c/o Permanent Records, 612 Yonge St., Suite 201, Toronto, ON Canada M4Y 1Z3
Walkin' T:-)M

Mad Dogs & Englishmen "Going Down With Alice"
Whippet/Downwarde Spiral; WPTCD19/DR009CD; 2000; Playing time: 49.00 min
Mad Dogs and Englishmen = The Whisky Priests unplugged, shortly speaking. Bass and drums are damned to pause. But less is more sometimes, because twin brothers Gary (vocals, guitar, mandolin) and Glenn Miller (accordion) found their congenial partner in the "singing drummer" Joseph Porter (vocals, guitar, percussion) of Blyth Power. Joseph and Gary showcase their song writing skills, often drowned and overlooked when performing with their punk folk outfits. At first rate I felt a bit disappointed about the songs, seemingly lacking any power. But like aging wine, it's getting better and better. There's more than one gem to discover, just to mention Porter's "Canard's Grace" or Miller's "Full Circle", commissioned to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the birth of the railways. Keep going!
Whippet/Downwarde Spiral,; POB 72, York, YO31 1LD, England; Tel/Fax +44(0)1904 410038
Walkin' T:-)M

Carrantuohill "Between"
CELT; CC-06; 2000; Playing time: 60.48 min
Traditional Irish music travelled a long way and finally reached the distant shores of Poland. Carrantuohill, named after Ireland's highest mountain, combine "the beauty of Celtic roots with the unique climate of Slavic spirit". Maciej Paszek (fiddle), Dariusz Sojka (accordion, bagpipes, flute, whistle), Zbigniew Seyda (bouzouki, mandolin), Bogdan Wita (guitar), Adam Drewniok (bass) and Marek Sochacki (drums) started way back in 1987 inspired by Clannad's "Robin of Sherwood", but recent interest is more in trad groups like Altan, Dervish or Danu. 1994 saw their first visit to Ireland to take part in the South Sligo Summer School in Tubbercurry. In Poland they shared stage with the Battlefield Band and Liam O'Flynn, and performed at the Cork Folk Festival in 1999. Seamus Heaney, when reading in Krakow, stated that the concert allowed him to move back home with no necessity of travelling. Half a dozen albums to their credit, "Between" is their latest mix of jigs and reels and hornpipes, airs, and marches. It's strictly Irish, no hints of Slavic folk music as could be expected. Even "Sonny's Mazurka" is Donegal not Hungary. "Wild Mountain Thyme", "An Irish Soldier Laddie", "County Armagh" and "Lovely Derry" are delivered (the booklet doesn't say who's singing) in a voice that resembles of an 90-year old Irish farmer, thus adding some kind of authenticity and bringing memories of the late Micho Russell and his kin. And since they are Polish and "the Irish soul is similar" - "we have the same Catholic religion and we also have similar traditions with families and with fighting our bigger neighbours" - they don't bother too much if they "are allowed" to play Irish music. So what about holidays in Poland?
CELT,; ul. Rybnicka 99, 44-240 Zory, Poland; Tel/Fax +48 36 / 4341566
Walkin' T:-)M

William Taylor "Two Worlds of the Welsh Harp"
Dorian; DOR-90-260; 1999; Spielzeit: 68.49 min
Rob MacKillop & William Taylor "Graysteil"
Label: Dorian; DIS-80141; 1997; Spielzeit: 59.39 min
"Ah, see! our last, best harper goes. / Sweet as his strain be his repose! / Extinct are all the tuneful fires, / And music with Twm Bach expires; / No finger now remains to bring / The tone of rapture from the string."
Those times are gone, but the music is to be revived. Harper William Taylor contrasts two completely different repertoires of ancient harp music from Wales. The Robert ap Huw manuscript from 1613 is the earliest body of harp music from anywhere in Europe. Medieval in character it might be dated to the 14th and 15th century, representing the otherwise lost repertoire of the medieval Welsh bards. On the other hand, Edward Jones' baroque compilation "Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards" from 1784-1825 preserved those fashionable dance tunes, which Jones thought was ancient music, but is rather contemporary repertory - "not on the whole very ancient and not at all Welsh in origin, but very Welsh in manner". Each tune is played on reconstructed metal-strung replicas of 12th-16th century Welsh harps. Unlike the later sophisticated triple harp (see interpreters like Robin Huw Bowen or Delyth Jenkins), the Gothic harp suffers from a limited range of expression and tonal shading. However, Taylor is able to overcome the instrument's inherent limitations with his rhythmical and counterpoint work.
Scotland's art music is not "the poor cousin of her dynamic folk culture." William Taylor also features in another project dedicated to the clarsach (wire-strung harp), together with Dundee-born lutist Rob MacKillop plus Glasgowegian ballad singer Andy Hunter and Orcadian tenor Paul Rendall. Music from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Scotland is preserved in various manuscripts from the 13th to the 17th century. The epic poem "Graysteil", which gives the album its name, is mentioned in 1497 to be played before the Stewart king.
Both recordings contain extensive booklet notes. Not only for the academic, but a pleasure to listen to!
Dorian,; 8 Brunswick Road, Troy, New York 12180-3795, USA; Tel: (518) 274-5475
Walkin' T:-)M

Jim McCann "The Collection"
Celtic Collections; CCCD 155; 1999; Spielzeit: 43.58 min
Jim McCann "By Request"
Label: Celtic Collections; CCCD 240; 2000; Spielzeit: 48.44 min
Irish singer-guitarist Jim McCann is on the road since 35 years. In the 60s he joined one of the top Irish folk groups around that time called the Ludlow Trio. "The sea around us" was the first record of it's type to become number one in Ireland. In the 70s Jim joined briefly "Jesus Christ Superstar" (must be the biblical beard) and toured with the Dubliners. Since then he has made several successful albums. His hit single "Grace" stayed in the charts for 36 weeks. Jim still sings the old and often covered ballads. But he does it with honesty. And who has the right to do it, if not this true balladeer of the folk revival. "The Collection" (no compilation, but new recordings) features classic Irish tracks like "Rocks of Bawn", "Come to the Bower", and "The Town I Loved So Well". Jim is supported by piper Declan Masterson, Donal Lunny (Bouzouki, bodhran), Des Moore (guitar) and Bill Whelan (keyboard). "By Request" collects those most requested songs Jim has never recorded before (or at least in different ways). Just to mention "Four Green Fields" or "The Star of the County Down". This time help comes from Ewan Cowley (banjo, mandolin, whistle), Sinead Madden (fiddle, vocals), Dave MacMullan (keyboards) and John Drummond (double bass).
Celtic Collections,; 30-32 Sir John Rogersons Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland; Tel: +353 1 6790667, Fax: +353 1 6790668
Walkin' T:-)M

Maca "Blood & Gold"
Tara; TARA CD 4006; 1998; Playing time: 29.22 min
The name Maca is from the famous Ulster saga, the Táin. A woman called Macha is forced to give birth to twins while running a race against King Conor's horses. As she died, she cursed the men of Ulster: "May the men be as weak and sick as a woman in childbirth at the moment of their greatest danger." As well Maca are four talented singers. And there is no weakness in their voices. Maca are rooted in Irish as well as classical music. "Blood & Gold" features the trained voices of Caron Hannigan and Yvonne Woods (who studied in the Royal Academy of London) against the "untrained" voices of Peter Harney and Tara O'Beirne. The four are founder members of Celtic vocal group Anuna and have performed with the Riverdance show. The title track comes from Andy Irvine's Romanian anti-war song. There's an emphasis on traditional English and Irish airs. There is also the contemporary song "Rinn na Mara" written by John Spillane and Scottish Port a Bheul (Mouth Music). Most songs are solo performances with sophisticated backing harmonisation. "My Lagan Love" is lifted by harmonica player Brendan Power. Percussion is added by Paul Moran (Clannad, Davy Spillane band).
Tara,; 8 Herbert Lane, Dublin 2, Ireland; Tel +353-1-6787871, Fax +353-1-6787873
Walkin' T:-)M

Levellers "Hello Pig"
China Records; 8573-84339-2; 2000; Playing time: 47.37 min
Change is inevitable - that's fine, even necessary, cause otherwise boring. The Levellers were radical reformers in 17th century England, led by "Freeborn" John Lilburn. Their musical counterpart from Brighton provided us with a mix of rock, punk, and folk, and rebellious and subversive lyrics for a decade. Their sixth studio album to date offers less folk rock than ever before. At first surprising, but looking at the Levellers' work over the years it was a consistent and continuous evolution. "Hello Pig" is laid back and experimental, with strings and reminiscences to the Beatles, with lots of echoes and distortions. Only "Edge Of The World", "Sold England" and "Red Sun Burns" come close to the "old" Levellers. -- Contrary, Levellers in concert still means an electrifying folk rock show. There has also been a fine acoustic tour in the last year. No recordings?
China Records, 113 Frithville Gardens, London W12 7JG
Walkin' T:-)M

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