Issue 23 09/2002

FolkWorld CD ReviewsDog

Bäsk - Kennemark Simonson Källman "Släkt"

Label: Xource; XOUCD136; 2002; Playing time: 52.24 min
Bäsk is a collaboration of three very renowned musicians from the experimental Swedish folk music scene: Jonas Simonson is best known as flautist (plus piper and clarinet player) of Swedish folk-jazz-etc. band Groupa; Sten Källman is passionate about Swedish and Haiti folk music, and plays his sax and drums/percussion also in the likes of Den Fule and Filarfolket; Hans Kennemark is a reputed fiddler from Västergötland.
The result of such a collaboration simply has to be exciting. Here we have three musicians with a deep knowledge of Swedish folk traditions, at the same time willing to experiment beyond the traditional framework. All three are also talented composers, and most of the tunes on "Släkt" are wirtten by one of the three. All tunes are steeped in Swedish music traditions, arranged in a fresh innovative and improvising way. Music reflecting the dark Swedish winter nights, the lonely and wide landscapes, nevertheless music full of life; beautiful, thoughtful, yet exciting music. A lovely CD for long winter nights...
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Michael Moll

Fabrizio Poggie "Turututela - Canzoni Populari"
Label: Duny/Felmay; fy8053; 2002; Playing time: 54.52 min
This CD is a dedication to music and song from the Italian region of Lombardy. Fabrizio Poggie has in Italy (and also North America) a reputation as a sensitive singer/songwriter and skilled multi-instrumentalist (melodeon, harmonica, mandolin, mandola, hair comb, small percussion). On this album he focuces on traditional popular folk songs from Northern Italy, presenting them in a lively, honest and appealing way. He is accompanied by a band of skilled musicians, on instruments such as whistles, flute, piffero, accordeon, guitars, drums, mandolin, bass and a female voice.
The moods reflected in the album are of joy and happiness, thoughtfulness and sadness. Fabrizios warm voice gives every song a comforting and relaxed feeling, providing a highly pleasant listening experience.
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Michael Moll

Väsen "Live at the Nordic Roots Festival"
Label: Xource; XOUCD135; 2000/2002; Playing time: 55.51 min
Väsen is one of the internationally best known and most exciting representatives of modern Swedish folk music. They have established a popularity also at the other side of the big pond. And it was exactly there, in the States, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Nordic Roots Festival that this live album has been recorded.
It is an immaculate live recording, showcasing the full hype, power and energy of a live performance of the four piece band. The music has lots of edges, drive and plenty of innovation. Väsen features the talents of Mikael Marin (fiddle), Olov Johansson (Nyckelharpa), Roger Tallroth (guitar) and André Ferrari (percussion). This recording sees (or better hears) all four musicians in an outstanding performance. The recording and sound quality is as good as on a studio album, just that the energy of the music is much better showcased than on Väsen's studio albums.
We are lucky that Xource has decided to publish this remarkable album now for Europe, 2 years after the recording was taken. Although the sleeve notes are extremely sparse, this album is highly recommended.
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Michael Moll

Skyedance & Guests "Live in Spain"
Label: Culburnie/Greentrax; CUL119D; 2002; Playing time: 69.41min
Another live album recorded far away from the home of the artists. Skyedance is one of the best Scottish fiddlers, Alasdair Fraser, with his excellent America-based band. Alasdair has since 10 years a "love affair with Spain", and the Spanish also have a love affair with Skyedance's music.
"Live in Spain" is a very special album, bringing Skyedance together with a bunch of superb Spanish musicians. The list of musicians joining Skyedance during this memorable concert reads like a little "Who is Who" in Northern Spanish folk: Basque accordeonist Kepa Junkera, Galician singer extraordinaire Mercedes Peón, the "txalaparta" duo Oreka TX, Asturian pipers José Manuel Tejedor and Hevia, Basque accordeonist Joxan Goikoetxea and Basque singer Mikel Laboa. Add to this the talents of the Skyedance band - with Eric Riegler on Scottish and Uillean Pipes, Chris Norman on wooden flutes, Paul Machlis on keyboard, Peter Maund on percussion, Mick Linden on Bass, and last not least the terrific and sensitive fiddle of Alasdair Fraser himself, and the result is simply impressive.
The CD features 13 sets of tunes, either written by Skyedance members or traditional Scottish, added by two songs, one in Galician from Mercedes Peón, one in Basque from Mikel Laboa, plus one poem by Alasdair Fraser. The recording quality is comparably high, yet not as high as a stuido album; at times the clapping of the audience disturbs slightly the music. Nevertheless, we can be glad that, with this CD, we can share a unique concert where Scottish meets Northern Spanish music.
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Michael Moll

Fairport Convention "Fairport unConventional"
Label: Free Reed Records & Music; FRQCD 35; 2002; Playing time: 4 x 78 min
On the occasion of their 35th birthday, Fairport Conventions comes with a very special present for their fans. Ok, not really a present, because - let's start with the bad news - this noble piece is not really cheap. But it provides real value for money: The box includes (to begin with the less important things): A Fairport "Sgt. Cropper" poster, a poster with the "Fairport family tree" (listing all line-ups since 1967 together with a list of bands from the surrounding of Fairport) and the "Cropredy Chronicles", a booklet about the history of the legendary Fairport Festival.
The box comes with a very detailed and lovingly designed book (169 pages in color), with quite a few information about the band. Beginning with their foundation in 1967, at least one page per year lists all important events concerning Fairport. The book contains a list of all ever released records and a biography of each musician who joined the band - all you want to know about Fairport. Following that, each song from the compilation box is explained: author, records featuring the song, history and content. Occasionally there are web pages mentioned, where you can find more information about the song. Finally, the book contains some interviews and plenty of pictures from every era of Fairport. Very interesting to see how the guys looked 35 year ago ;-).
And - of course - there is music. Over 5 hours, 72 songs on 4 CDs, sorted by subject:
Fairport - A History
An outline of the development of the music of Fairport Convention since 1967, mainly one highlight from every era. Including parts from Fairports first demo tape! The prelude to the compilation is - of course - "Meet on the ledge".
Rareport Convention
A collection of rare and unreleased material, private recordings, sessions,... . Among them cover versions e.g. from Bob Dylan songs or Leonard Cohens "Suzanne".
A Fairport History
Fairport songs, that are about english history, among them some well known ballads like "Red and Gold" or "Fotheringay". You can really learn something from the descriptions you find in the book. The CD is finished with a live version of Julie Matthews marvellous song "Jewel in the crown".
Classic Convention
As the title already says, you find here all classic songs from Fairport. All well known songs in unknown versions. One of the highlights of this CD is a remix of the ballad "Matty Groves" as radio report from the site of crime including quotes from eye-witnesses like "We heard everything, he was screaming 'Get up, get up'" - super! The last song builds the bridge to the first CD: "Meet on the ledge"
Altogeher a lot of material, that should enjoy every Fairport fan. Altough most of the songtitles are well known, the box contains predominantly unreleased or unavailable material: B-sides, alternative versions, live versions oder sessions. And even though some recordings are not in excellent CD quality-not surprising since they are recorded a long time before the digital age of music-they are nostalgic documents from old Fairport-days. Thanks for the compilation and Happy Birthday Fairport!

Free Reed Records & Music, The Cedars, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1DD, United Kingdom, Tel. 01773 824157; Fax 01773 825573,
Tom Kamphans

Fairport Convention "XXXV"
Label: Woodworm Records; WRCD038; 2002; Playing time: 65.02 min
Not only that the Fairporters searched their archives and released a boxed-set for their 35th birthday, they also went to their woodworm studio an recorded a new CD with the appropriate title "XXXV". It was a meeting of the actual line-up, Simon Nicol (voc, git), Dave Pegg (voc, bass), Chris Leslie (voc, viol, mand, banjo), Ric Sanders (viol, piano) and Gerry Conway (drums, perc), with their guests annaA ryderR, Mark Tucker, Chris While, Julie Matthews and flute-master Ian Anderson.
The record is of well-known and beloved Fairport quality. A balanced mixture of songs and instrumentals, some new, some newly recorded like the classic Fairport song "Now be thankful" by Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick. Lively, happy songs invite to dance and to whistle and alternate with reflective or sad ballads, like "The Deserter"-one of my favourite songs from this disk. Altogether, not really new music, but a really nice record, as we are used to hear from Fairport Convention. Woodworm Records, P.O. Box 37, Banbury, Oxon UX16 8YN, UK; Fax 01869 337142
Tom Kamphans

Touristes "Mother Africa"
Label: Felmay; FY 8043; ; Playing time: 53.20 min
The band Touristes, founded seven years ago by senegalesian and italian musicians, has the intention to consolidate european and african music. Not really a new idea, but a good idea. Mother Africa is a record containing african music with european influences. Traditional percussion and chants together with electric guitar, bass, drums and some keyboards. But they stay in the background and do not disturb the characteristics of a song. A well-done mixture. Typical world-music with african groove. A little disadvantage is, that the CD has no booklet, although not only reviewers but also listeners might be interested in the band and the songs and want to know more than just a list of songs and musicians. However, the music is good and friends of this kind of music should try this CD.
Felmay, Strada Roncaglia 16, 15040 San Germano (AL), Italy Tel. (0)39 0142 50577; Fax (0)39 0142 50780,
Tom Kamphans

Battlefield Band "Time Tide"
Label: Temple Records; COMCD2090; 2002; Playing time: 46.44 min
Here we go again - another album of one of the longest going, best known, and also best Scottish folk bands. The period of changes with the Batties has not been over since the last album, "Happy Daze": During the last year, the second short period of the Batties with a female singer, Karine Polwart, ended, because Karine decided to dedicate more time to her own band, the excellent Malinky. Once again the Batties had to be on the look-out for a new member. This time they chose a new old member, the singer/guitarist/cittern player Pat Kilbride. He joins the long time Batty Alan Reid (vocals/keys/accordion), the medium long time member Mike Katz (pipes, whistles, bass) and the still very new member Alasdair White (fiddles, whistles, bouzouki).
Although it had so many line-up changes during recent years, the Battlefield Band recipe and sound has remained basically the same. "Time Tide" presents once again a mixture of ballads and immaculately played and fresh sounding tunes. The album showcases the talents of the Batties both as musicians and as composers in the traditional style. The tunes include magnificent compositions of Mike Katz and Alasdair White, and Alan Reid and Pat Kilbride have contributed a self written song each. The songs represent a bit of a homecoming of the in Glasgow founded Battlefield Band, to the shores of the Firth of Clyde; with two songs, "The Bonnie Jeannie Deans" and "Rotheseay Bay" (the latter giving me fond memories of the beautiful sunrises over Rothesay Bay seen on the way to the tent at the Isle of Bute Folk Festival). Pat Kilbride remembers in "Camden Town" his times in London. The remaining two songs cover the most important Scottish subject: Whiskey.
The only criticism of this album is one I have had for many of Batties albums - the keyboard is only nice as long as it is played as a piano, in certain places it sounds rather awful to me. That criticism aside, this is another strong album of the Battlefield Band; it might not offer much new things, but - as you would expect from the Batties - it presents Scottish folk music at its very best.
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Michael Moll

Mary Jane Lamond "òrain Ghàidhlig - Gaelic Songs of Cape Breton"
Label: Own/Turtlemusic; 02 50889; 2000; Playing time: 45.12 min
Mary Jane Lamond is one of the outstanding Scottish Gaelic singers of these times. She is known for her more experimental approach to Cape Breton songs, yet always staying close to the tradition. Mary Jane comes from a part of the world where Gaelic language has remained for a long time alive: Cape Breton Island, on the East coast of Canada, an island which attracted hundreds of years ago Scottish settlers.
This album sees Mary Jane going back to her roots, to Gaelic Cape Breton songs and music in their pure form. It is a beautiful collection of tradtional songs, presented in various acoustic ways, mainly based on the traditional singing style, but with a bit of a modern twist to them. Many songs are sparsely and skilfully accompanied, by piano, fiddle, bagpipes or guitar, others are a-capella songs. Two tracks showcase the tradition of waulking songs, with several guest Cape Breton singers singing the choruses as a choir, with the appropriate waulking sounds giving the songs the traditional feel. To make the album complete, a tune represents the instrumental traditions of Cape Breton, played by a duo of fiddle and piano. To play all these numbers in, Mary Jane had the support of some of the talented musicians from the island, including the likes of Wendy MacIsaac, Marianne Jewell, Gordie Simpson and Paul K. MacNeil.
A beautiful album, and a wonderful showcase of Cape Breton Gaelic traditions.
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Michael Moll

Cliar "gun tàmh"
Label: Macmeanmna; No.SKYECD21; 2002
Cliar, a Gaelic band from Scotland, combines some of the outstanding talents from the Scottish music scene. With Maggie MacDonald, Mary Ann Kennedy and Arthur Cormack, it is blessed with three sensitive Gaelic singers. The instrumental side of the band features some of the younger talent of Scotland, with harpist and piano player Ingrid Henderson, Blazin' Fiddles' Bruce MacGregor and guitarist Chaz Stewart.
Cliar's repertoire is steeped in Gaelic traditional songs from Scottish Highland traditions. The songs, tastefully accompanied, are rounded up by three sets of tunes. The album has a beautiful range of enchanting slow numbers showcasing the outstanding voices of the three singers, as well as more energetic songs and tunes.
A very harmonious album, taking the listeners mind away into day dreams. Without doubt one of the memorable Scottish releases of this year.
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Michael Moll

Duncan Chisholm, Iain McFarlane & Bruce MacGregor + guests "A Highland Fiddler"
Label: Macmeanmna; No.SKYECD20; 2002
Another release from the Skye based label Macmeanmna. This album is dedicated to one of the most important Scottish fiddle teachers of the last century, Donald Riddell, a man responsible for teaching many of today's well known talents. Three of his pupils were Duncan Chisholm (Wolfstone, ex-Blazin Fiddles), Iain MacFarlane (Blazin Fiddles) and Bruce MacGregor (Cliar and Blazin Fiddles). Donald was as teacher extremely strict on the technique and bowing pattern of Highland music, and his legacy is still visible in the styles of his pupils; Bruce remembers: I remember vividly meeting up with Duncan for the first time in years at a session somewhere. We hadn't played together for ten years and the tune we were lashing into was not one taught by Donald. However, to my amazement, I watched as our bowing arms worked in perfect unison. Military precision has always had its uses!
Obviously, the tunes on this album, subtitled "The Lunes Collection of Donald Riddell", are also played extremely precise, probably with all three bowing arms in perfect unison. It is a mixture of tunes written by the Master and traditional tunes taught by him. The three fiddlers invited for the recording a bunch of Scotland's best musicians, including piper/whistles Rory Campbell (Deaf Shepherd, Old Blind Dogs), who also beautifully sings a Gaelic song on the album, Old Blind Dogs' guitarist and fiddler Johnnie Hardie (who also produced the album) and Brian McAlpine on accordion, piano and keys.
I am sure that Donald Riddell would be proud of his pupils for this recording!
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Michael Moll

Daniele Sepe "Senza Filtro"
Label: Duny/Felmay; fy8049; 2002
This is one of the odd CD releases, featuring a broad range of styles and crossing very diverse tastes and styles. "Senza Filtro", subtitled "a sampler of de-composed traditional music from South Italy", acts as an introduction to Italian saxophonist, composer and arranger Daniele Sepe. Daniele Sepe has "reinvented" Neapolitan folk music, and creates, at the same time, new music also from various other traditions from around the Mediterrean.
This album presents a talented and experimenting musician who seems to reinvent himself and his style with every single number. Sometimes he stays with his arrangements close to the tradition, sometimes he wanders into the worlds of Jazz, World, Rock, Pop, Funk, even Classical Music. The saxophone enters at times to provide atmospheric jazzy elements, voices are sampled, background noice is added to songs. Plenty of musicians are appearing on this recording - singers, traditional musicians, rock and jazz musicians. The album is especially aimed at foreign markets, displaying the broad range of different faces of this extraordinary musician. For Daniele Sepe fans it is also important to add that 6 of the 13 numbers on this album are unissued tracks.
Definitely not the kind of album I would hear from start to end. It has its impressive highlights, but also tracks which are not my cup of tea at all. Yet it is an album full of surprises and discoveries.
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Michael Moll

Lack of limits "Out of the ashes"
Label: Own; 311295; 2002; Playing time: 58.38 min
The German band Lack of limits started in 1995 as a duo and got a quartet in 1997. They bring English and Irish inspirited folkrock. The musicians play several traditional instruments such as violin and mandolin as well as saxophone, guitar and several kinds of percussion. The band has been working hard to get out of the shadow and they are succeeding more and more. This Out of the ashes is their third cd and a very nice one. The group has a very solid sound and managed to create a balanced mixture between the Celtic influence and rock music. In a traditional like dear green place the group shows that they know how to handle a traditional song while other songs like First bomb remind me of the early Levellers music. The group plays with fun and inspiration. Although the arrangements of the songs are still basic, and sometimes a bit too popular, I think this cd has enough to offer and that the Lack of limits is getting a serious competitor for other groups in this genre.
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Eelco Schilder

Attwenger "Sun"
Label: Trikont; 0297; 2002; Playing time: 64.45 min
It's not very easy to form a picture of Attwenger. The press info doesn't make much clear, but I will try to do my best. Attwenger seems to be a duo from Austria and brings music in an Austrian dialect. This cd Sun is a strange mixture of beats, balkan music, voice and samples. I don't understand a word the singer is singing, but somehow the atmosphere is so unique that I keep listening to this record time after time. Is it beautiful music? No, it's not. Are their lyrics poetic and important? I really don't know, they probably are. I think it's the way they play with their voice and accordion or the continuing rhythms. From some other reviews, out of German newspapers I understand that this cd is quite a masterpiece. Well, I'm reviewing this for all the people who don't understand this dialect and I really can't say more than it has a unique sound and the cd is somehow impressive. But I think that for most people this cd is just too difficult to understand. But than....why do I want to listen to it again?
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Eelco Schilder

Te Vaka "Nukukehe"
Label: Warm earth; 1003; 2002
Te Vaka brings music inspired by a trip to Samoa, Tokelau and Tuvalu, all Polynesian islands. The music has the sound that reminds of a clear sea on a sunny day. Easy going songs with smooth rhythms and relaxed harmony vocals. Friendly to listen to but after a few songs it is hard to notice where one song starts and the other ends. It's music to relax, to dream. Nice album which, I think, will be liked by many people. But for me it's a bit to much of the same and Te Vaka does not add enough to the known Polynesian sound to make this album really remarkable.
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Eelco Schilder

Marwan Abado & Peter Rosmanith "Marakeb"
Label: Iris; 3001 853; 2001; Playing time: 52.22 min
The duo Marwan Abado and Peter Rosmanith live in Wien and decided to record this cd after a visit to Beirut, Lebanon. Marwan Abado has been born in Lebanon and he lives in Wien since 1985 where he works as musician. He sings and plays the Oud on Marakeb. Peter Rosmanith was born in Austria and has been a guest-percussionist on many cd's. also on this project he's doing the percussion. The cd has a very classical Arabic sound especially because of the beautiful vocals and the sound of the oud. The lyrics are poetic and, although they are newly written, have the atmosphere of the old Arabic poems. It is Rosmanith's percussion that gives this cd even more value. Not only is he able to use Arabic rhythms, he also uses his imagination and, without going too far, he plays with the melody. Rosmanith and Abado seem to reach a new level in music when they are playing together. It's clear that these musicians understand each other and they have respect for each others music. An impressive traditional and yet also modern Arabian cd which I appreciate very much
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Eelco Schilder

Cirque de Soleil "Dralion"
Label: Bmg; 0902663559 2; 1999; Playing time: 50.32 min
Cirque de soleil is an international famous circus-show which mixes circus with fabulous theatre. This cd features music of their show Dralion and contains eleven own compositions with many Italian and Eastern influences. I think that this cd is very interesting for people who saw the show. For me, who did not see the show, the music is a bit too theatrical. It sounds like the composer put pieces together and they don't always fit. This is "imaginary" music and misses a balanced basic sound. The Opera kind of singing and the use of soft rhythms and electronics really is too much. Again I write that you should buy this cd when you saw the show because you would probably love to experience it again and again at home. But I think if you buy this cd pure for its musical quality, it would be wise to listen in your cd shop if are able to take this dramatically kind of music.
Eelco Schilder

Caroline Herring "Twilight"
Label: Blue corin music; bcm0101; 2001; Playing time: 40.29 min
Caroline Herring is a new star in the American roots music scene. She has her roots in the state Mississippi and this debut cd is deeply rooted in this area. When you hear twilight it's hard to believe that this is Herring's first cd. Her songs are impressive and of a beauty that is hard to find nowadays. Although her songs have a specific sound, she manages to give an extra identity to each ballad. Like in the song Emma where she sounds like a young Joni Mitchell. Emma is one of the highlights of the cd, a beautiful ballad for which Herring was inspired by her great-great grandmother. It has both poetic as well as mystic lyrics. Other songs like learning to drive have more roots influence and the lyrics seem to be in a more traditional style. Although I've never been a big fan of American roots music, the last few years a few artists have convinced me that I should have more attention for this music style. I'm proud to write that Caroline Herring is on of these artists.
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Eelco Schilder

Naked Raven "Wrong girl"
Label: T3 Records; t3 0005-2; 2002; Playing time: 58.13 min
The Australian band Naked raven is a refreshing band which surprised me with their cd wrong girl. The group brings a mixture of folk and pop music brought in a creative way. They work together with a string quartet on this cd which has a lot of influence on the sound of the songs. I love the heavy sound of violins and cello but besides that it's the combination of the string instruments, light rhythms and down to earth female vocals that make this album of a high level. Sometimes I have the idea that Naked raven got inspired by Tori Amos her Little earthquakes album. Especially a song like Happening has a "little earthquakes" sound. But on the other hand Naked raven has it's own style, light and friendly music but with emotion. The lyrics are somehow simple without being pointless. (My personal favourite lyric: "You're wrong you're wrong you're wrong you're wrong you're wrong you're just so wrong".) It's like they were written without any literature pretension but purely to describe facts of life. I like that! It's easy to identify yourself with this music and I wont be surprised if Naked raven will reach a big audience, the cd wrong girl has the right quality to do so.
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Eelco Schilder

Stonecirkel "Alchemy"
Label: Iodstar; ls001006; 2001; Playing time: 70.23 min
Stonecirkel is a group from the USA that brings traditional songs from, in most cases, the Celtic area. The groups mixes the traditional sounds with keyboard, which makes their music a bit dreamy. The repertoire contains songs like She moved through the fair but also the pre-Malicorne song Pierre de grenoble (Which is not a Malicorne song as suggested in the booklet, but from the Gabriel and Marie Yacoub album Pierre the grenoble which was recorded before the first Malicorne album). The vocals on this album by Lauren Buffington-Jones are pure and beautiful. The arrangements of the songs are nice but not renovating. It might sound like a good, strong album. Well, it could have been if the producers of this album didn't make one big mistake; they used an annoying kind of echo which made the music sound like one big wall of sound. I think this is a pity because the musicians have quality and I can hear that they know what they are doing. I really don't understand why they choose to use this echo because Stonecircle doesn't need such tricks to make their music more interesting
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Eelco Schilder

Hans Andre Stamm "Celtic desires"
Label: Jigit!; 1020; 2002; Playing time: 70.13 min
Together with several other musicians Hans Andre Stamm recorded 17 Celtic songs about love and passion. The songs are brought in a traditional way but with some electronic sound effects. The vocals by Cordelia Rulander and Markus Brachtendor (lecker sachen/mahones) are classical inspired. The atmosphere on this cd is relaxing and moody. The music is of constant high quality and the violin by Elise Schirmacher is beautiful. She knows how to give emotion to her play, it can be heard that she has a Classical background. Interesting cd that can easily compete with all the hundreds of Moody-Celtic cd's that are released each year
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Eelco Schilder

More English CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2
Overview: CD Review Contents

To the content of FolkWorld No. 23

© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 09/2002

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