FolkWorld Issue 33 05/2007

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Steeleye Span "Bloody Men"
Label:
Park Records; PRKCD91; 2006; Playing time: 46:43 + 16:07 min
Singer Maddy Prior, fiddler Peter Knight, guitar player Ken Nicol bassist Rick Kemp and drummer Liam Genockey are the current line-up of British folk rock legend Steeleye Span (-> FW#25). The five pioneers and veterans are playing traditional British music in their 38th year, as always as a tight rock outfit. This time featuring the traditional "Bonny Black Hare", "The Three Sisters" (with a new tune), "Cold Haily Windy Night", "Whummil Bore", "Lord Gregory", the instrumental set "First House in Connacht/Lady of the House", and a couple of original songs, e.g. about Lambert Simnel, the fake heir to the English throne in mid 15th century. As a special there is a five part mini symphony written by Rick Kemp about the Luddites of early 19th century, who were smashing the machinery which they believed were the cause of poverty and unemployment. (Might become a hymn of the protesters at the G8 summit, the name lend itself already to an Italian socio-political folk rock band -> FW#7.) Steeleye Span business as usual, so to speak, with some highlights here and some downfalls there. Steeleye Span doesn't seem to get tired, and this is good news anyway. However, just don't really ask me why it is put on two cd's instead of one.
Park Records
Walkin' T:-)M


Svetilen "My Soul, Rise Up!"
Vol. 33.0; 2005; Playing time: 52:56 min
Just a couple of days ago, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad re-united with the Russian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, after being separated since the 1920's when Metropolitan Sergiy pledged from his prison cell the churchís loyalty to the Soviet state. A new chapter in the spiritual re-birth in post-Communist Russia has begun. Another one is adressed here. The Svetilen ensemble had been formed in 1989 with the aim to revive the old vocal tradition in pre-modern Russian society. With this album "My Soul, Rise Up!", Svetilen explore the roots of sacred chant, particularly outside of the liturgical services. The tunes are quite beautiful, dating back to the 17th to 19th centuries. It is a peculiar old Russian style, contrary to western choral traditions. The songs are usually performed a capella, but sometimes ancient Slavic instruments (the gusli, a kind of a harp, and the koliosnaya lira, a hurdy gurdy) are used for accompaniment. Naturally, I don't understand a word besides the occasional halleluja. There are hymns and psalms, verses for nativity and passion week, central events of the gospel narrative, and verses about the sinful human soul and the last judgement.
www.orthodoxmusic.ru
Walkin' T:-)M


Transkapela "Sounds & Shadows"
Label:
Konador; CDKR 013; 2005; Playing time: 66:47 min
Transkapela "Over the Village"
Label: Ferment; 2007; Playing time: 54:32 min
Both "Sounds & Shadows" and "Over the Village" are an exploration into the world of the travelling klezmer musicians of the Carpathian mountains. Jewish artists who played on weddings, religious holidays and other festivities. It had been -- and still is -- a multic-cultural world: there were not only Jewish villages but also Bukovina highlanders, Hutsuls, Gypsies, Polish, Romanians, Hungarians, and many more. The Polish quartet Transkapela is digging into the music that had been played in the 19th and 20th century and is playing in the style of those bands that are lost and long forgotten: Ewa Wasilewska (violin, mazanki, i.e. a little fiddle), Maciej Filipczuk (violin, fiddle with trumpet, guitar, zongura, i.e. a Transsylvanian guitar), Robert Wasilewski (hammered dulcimer, viola, shepherdís pipes, jewís harp, guitar, zongura), Piotr Pniewski (cello, double bass, drum). The latter also plays the gardon, i.e. a stringed percussion instrument. Its shape resembles a cello. Three strings tuned to the same tone are hammered with a stick, while a fourth is plucked so that it recoils on the finger board. The travelling Jewish musicians have disappeared from the Carpathian scenery, however, Transkapela is able to beautifully revive the sights, sounds and ways of yore.
www.transkapela.com
Walkin' T:-)M


Thomas Walsh "The Plassey On The Rocks"
Label:
Crashed Music; CRCD 3057; 2006; Playing time: 59:53 min
MacDara "The Love Token"
Label: Own label; MD001; 2006; Playing time: 39:01 min
The tune "The Plassey on the Rocks" has been composed only recently; the "Plassey" being the name of a cargo vessel that had been shipwrecked off the coast of Inisheer in 1960. Since then it had been thrown above high tide mark at Carraig na Finise reef. "Rev it up Ruth" marks another incident, this time of a more personal nature, on the small island off the west coast of Ireland. Has to be the air on Inisheer! muses accordion player Thomas Walsh, composer of the classic slow air "Inisheer" (-> FW#33). Three years after his previous album "Ethnic Tears" (-> FW#27), Thomas releases his brand new cd, again drawing on the inspiration of one of his favourite places. Over the years Thomas was asked to put lyrics to his famous tune "Inisheer", but he was very reluctant. He eventually wrote a story in English about how he saw the island with the tune in mind. Shay Hennessy wrote some Irish lyrics to it, and these are featured on "The Plassey on the Rocks" sung by David Yeates.
Cherish The Ladies, Danu, Shantalla and many many more recorded the tune "Inisheer". Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola (-> FW#24), who hails from Inisheer herself, once dapted some Gaelic words from an Ethna Carberry poem and set it to the tune of Thomas Walsh's air.
Lasairfhiona's brother MacDara Ó Conaola is deeply rooted in the native music of the island and he took to sean-nos singing, the old style of Gaelic language song. Bim síoraí a' casadh ceoil, a' feadaíl 's ag gabhail fhoínn - I never tire of making music, whistling and singing. With guests such as fiddler Maire Breatnach (-> FW#25) and bodhran player Johnny McDonagh, MacDara presents 8 Irish language songs, 4 in English, and 1 original macaronic track -- i.e. with both Irish and English verses -- "The Mighty Dancer". The selections include the traditional "Stóirín Geal Mo Chroí", "Seothín Seothó" and "The Love Token", as well as Raifterí's "Baile Uí Laoi". MacDara's repertory ranges from folksy ballads to rhythmic Chieftains-like stuff, and a middle-of-the-road country music song as the poor exception that proves the rule. I certainly was attracted to the song (or rather spoken-word performance) "An Dún Aengus" (see www.dunaengus.de), however, in this case it is not a stone age fort on the neighbouring island of Inismore but the name of a ferry boat serving the island form the mainland. The booklet contains the English translations of all Gaelic songs.
Crashed Music
Walkin' T:-)M


Whisky Trail "Chaosmos"
Label:
Amiata; ARNR 0106; 2006; Playing time: 43:49 min
Chaos typically refers to unpredictability, and the original Green meaning of the primal emptiness, space changed to disorder. Cosmos, however, is an orderly or harmonious system. Chaos and cosmos, two antithetical concepts that make up the world, life, and music. So what is chaosmos? First of all, it is not about Greece, the band Whisky Trail (-> FW#27) is from the Florence area. Secondly, it is not about Italy. It is about Ireland. We all know that the Italian monasteries are full of medieval Irish texts. Well, Italians take Irish music very seriously. Their nineth album features 8 tracks with original music, mini symphonies so to speak. Rather complex, with calm and fast parts respectively, rhythm and key changes within every track, partly with vocals and harmonies. The idea behind "Chaosmos" comes from the medieval Irish text "In tenga bithua" (i.e. the ever-new tongue) about cosmology, in which the 8 constituent elements of chaos are identified as: air, stones, fire, stars, colours, flavours, water and soul. It was James Joyce who linked chaos and cosmos into one word summing up the unity of chaos and order in this world of ours. Sometimes I hear a slight oriental influence. Overall this is Chieftains-like territory (-> FW#22). We are certainly not having a pint in an Irish pub, though this is certainly folk music, and great folk music it is.
Amiata Records
Walkin' T:-)M


White Raven "The Place Where Life Began"
Label: Own label; 2006; Playing time: 41:40 min
Kathleen Dineen is an Irish singer from Macroom, County Cork. This is Elizabeth Cronin country, the great late collector of traditional songs. Kathleen also has been influenced by Sean O'Riada (-> FW#28) and the Gaelic singing tradition of nearby Ballingeary and Coolea. Nowadays she lives in Switzerland and is a specialist in medieval vocal studies at Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. She formed the a capella vocal trio White Raven in 2001 with American tenor Robert Getchell and Latvian bariton Raitis Grigalis. After a medieval album they adapted traditional Irish music, delivered in close and precise three part harmony. Lets call it Thomas Moore operatic style, or, when it's more up tempo, Steeleye Span (see above) minus the electric rock music. Many songs conjure up Kathleen's childhood memories, her emotions about place and belonging. Featuring the traditional "I Know My Love By His Ways Of Walking", the Gaelic "Mo ghile mear" (she still remembers sean-nos singer Seamus Mac Mathuna at Whitsun festival in Baile Mhuirne), Sigerson Clifford's "The Boys of Barr na Sraide" (its sentiments could refer to any town in Munster, or anywhere in the world -> FW#28), Sean O'Casey songs such as "Since Maggie Went Away" and "Down Where the Bees are Humming", Yeats' "The White Birds", Eric Bogle's "All the Fine Young Men" (-> FW#32), and eventually "The Tennessee Waltz". Kathleen also plays some harp, and White Raven is at times supported by fiddlers Eve Kopli and Gerry O'Connor (-> FW#30) and vielle player Shira Kammen (which is a medieval precursor of the modern violin with five gut strings). The booklet is in English, French and German, and includes song lyrics and translations.
www.whiteraven.info
Walkin' T:-)M


V/A "A Case for Case - A Tribute to the Songs of Peter Case"
Label:
Hungry for Music; HFM 024; 2006; Playing time: 72:52 + 68:55 + 65:46 min
Richard Buckner remembers: 1989, San Francisco, on the steps of City Hall, 2 AM or so, a vigil for a homeless shelter in town. Peter Case showed up and played Poor Old Tom. He played it to the ten or so of us waiting for sunrise. I didn't really know Peter and hadn't heard the song before, and thought 'that's the best fucking Woody Guthrie song I've ever heard!' I found out later it was Peter's. Here sits another poor old Tom trying to write a cd review. To be quite honest, I never even heard of Peter Case before in my life, save one of his songs. It turns out that he is a great and versatile songwriter, though he never got the audience he deserves. In the 1970s Peter toured with The Nerves but soon abandoned his electric guitar to return to the acoustic and music he called tribal folk, i.e. American roots music, blues, folk and rock. Peter is the proverbial minstrel and troubadour travelling around and breaking the news with his songs. He writes the kind of songs which Maura O'Connell loves: A great song is poetry and music in the same time. It should be relevant to everybody in one way or another, both now and in the future. The charity organization "Hungry for Music", which puts musical instruments in the hands of underprivileged children, decided for their recent fundraising cd to undertake a tribute to the songs of Peter Case. They came in abundance: Chuck Prophet, Susan Cowsill, Dave Alvin, Joe Ely, Peter Mulvey, The Kennedys (-> FW#31), Jeffrey Foucalt, to name but a few. 3 CDs, 47 songs, quite surprising I seem to like nearly all of them. I don't know what that exactly means, probably that it is a great disc set. Jackie Greene is full of praise too: Peter Case is to American music what penicillin is to medicine: Easy to take for granted, but oh so essential. This says it all, doesn't it?
Hungry for Music
Walkin' T:-)M


Fanfare Ciocarlia "Queens and Kings"
Label:
Asphalt-Tango; 1207; 2007; Playing time: 48:45 min
The Romanian band Fanfare Ciocarlia is probably the best known Roman brass orchestra worldwide. After several successful cdís and touring around the globe, many countries have been dancing on the fast brass beats. The band includes musicians from several countries were the Romany community lives, such as Macedonia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Bosnia. Itís by now a cross border group which shows the similarities in styles, with the unique own elements of each region. Queens and Kings is the bands fifth cd and to my opinion the best one yet. I have seen them live in concert several times and somehow their cdís been often great to listen to but could not compete with the live atmosphere. For Queens and Kings they took a different road. The music is often fast and furious as usual, but this cd also contains some fantastic slow songs, almost like a ballad. The band invited some of the best European singers to make this cd a complete success. Listen to Pănă cănd nut e iubeam, a beautiful sensitive song with Ando drom vocalist Mitsou on lead vocals. She sings again, together with Florentina sandu, on Duj Duj in a total different style. With the strong beats this is almost a kind of brass modern dance hit. On the bit oriental song Ibrahim, itís the legendary queen of gypsy Esma Redzepova who deludes me with her voice. This are just a few highlights, other names are the great Saban Bajramovic, Ljiljana Butler and Jony Iliev just to name a few others. Queens and Kings is the best Fanfare Ciocarlia cd until today and I canít wait to see them live again this summer on one of the festivals.
www.asphalt-tango.de
Eelco Schilder


Tony Reidy "A Rough Shot of Lipstick"
Label: Own label; trcd 002; 2006; Playing time: 48:01 min
Tony Reidy, I do remember writing a review of his 2002 cd The Coldest Day in Winter. I liked that cd; itís sober and pure sound in the best singer-songwriter tradition. Now, five years later I find his new cd on my desk ready to get reviewed. The opening song immediately reminded me why I liked his music so much. No intro, he just starts singing and catches my attention from the first second. The boy in the Gap, as the song is called, is a strong piece of music for a reason I canít explain. I donít really understand the lyrics, but they do intrigue me terribly. Besides this kind of powerful songs, Tony Reidy also recorded some easier songs to listen to without loosing any of the quality. Fool for You is one of my favourites in that style, a love song that gives me a happy feeling. Followed by God Knows, which shows his Dylan side, a bit more melancholic and darker. Besides his strong vocal work, this cd is well produced and the musicians (Seamie OíDowd, Paul Gurney and Kevin Doherty) are of high quality and add many extras to Reidyís songs. So Tony Reidy did it again, A Rough Shot of Lipstick is a great follow up on his earlier cd The Coldest Day in Winter and shows that he is ready for a much bigger international audience.
www.tonyreidy.net
Eelco Schilder


Bellowhead "Burlesque"
Label:
Westpark; 87132; 2006
At last, the debut cd of the UK folk band Bellowhead. Formed only three years ago, but today seen as one of the best folk acts of whole Great Britain. In 2005 they received the BBC folk award for best live act, and the past years they played on many of the top festivals in Europe including Roskilde and Cambridge. Bellowhead is a big band which exists out of eleven musicians including the founders of the band Jon Boden and John Spiers. Together with Benji Kirkpatrick, Andy Mellon, Justin Thurgur, Brendan Kelly, Gideon Juckes, Pete Flood, Rachael McShane, Paul Sartin and Giles Lewin they give some fresh and original interpretation of traditional English folk songs and tunes. The first two songs Rigs of the time and Jordan show exactly the strength of this band. Without loosing the unique sound of English folk music, these are two fantastic big band songs brought with power and full of energy. These two songs are followed by Across the line which has an introvert start but builds up to an exploding end with the brass element perfectly woven into the melody, nice cello ending and great melodeon works by John Spiers. One of my favourites is London town which has some strong solo vocals by Jon Boden and has such a happy uplifting atmosphere that, although it has been raining here for two days now, I feel like living in a sunny world. I could continue like this describing all the songs of the cd. Great instrumental parts like Sloe gin, ballads like Courting too slow or the Outlandish knight. It doesnít matter what style, Bellowhead plays it all in a more than convincing way. This Burlesque might be seen as a landmark cd in the recent history of British folk, the past week it has been hard to review any other cd because this one keeps slipping in to my cd player somehow and stayed there for days and days.
www.bellowhead.co.uk
Eelco Schilder


Municipale Balcanica "Foua"
Label:
Ethnoworld; 2009; 2005
If you have read my other reviews of klezmer and brass cdís, you might have noticed that itís not easy to record a cd in this style that gets above the average. This Municipale Balcanica band from Italy is one of the few that goes much further than the standard middle of the road brass music. The band was formed in 2003 and they describe themselves as a band that collects the sounds from the east, the music of happiness and sorrow and melt them with the harmonies of their homeland. This Foua (Macedonian for thanks) is, and again I quote, a fairytale and a cry. And somehow that is exactly what it is. The cd is fascinating and sounds like a magical story told in music and words. It is a mixture of hardcore brass music with both emotional and happy twists. I love Dio E zingaro which starts with a women telling a story which ends in a chaotic mixture of brass and screaming. From the first song Arclecchino the band surprises me with weird twists, brilliant arrangements and most of all, energetic and beating brass music. It has female vocals in Bulgarian style, down to earth male vocals, swinging French melodies and intense Hebrew songs. Hebrew song? Yes, this band did have the courage to record Hava nagila in such a way that it gets high above all the thousands of other versions I heard during the past 35 years. Foua is a must have cd for all these people who are into brass and like chaotic, inventive and powerful music. Highly recommended!
www.municipalebalcanica.it
Eelco Schilder


Jarabe de Palo "Adelantando"
Label:
Dro atlantic; 2564699428; 2007
Eleven years after their successful debut cd La flaca, which sold many copies worldwide, Jarabe de Palo comes with their latest cd called Adelantando. The music of this Spanish band could be described as pure Latin crossover rock with a positive atmosphere. The cd starts with the title song Adelantando, a great dancing song with a modern sound. Besides this kind of summer songs, Jarabe de Palo shows in a song like Me gusta como eres that they have the quality to convince in slower songs as well. Some songs, like Blablabla, are a bit too easy and seem to be composed in such a way that they wonít bother anybody. This is not the Latin crossover rock I talked about before, but middle of the road easy pop listening with a Latin touch. Dejame vivir is in the same style but because of its laidback atmosphere and the guest vocals by La Mari de Chambao this song sounds much more authentic. Overall a nice cd with some easy going music.
www.jarabedepalo.com
Eelco Schilder


Metropolitan Klezmer "Travelling Show"
Label: Own label; 2006
The Metropolitan Klezmer band started in 1994 and is now a band of eight musicians all rooted in different traditions. The goal of the band is to mix all the worldwide klezmer styles, both wedding songs, soundtracks from ancient films, tango, folksongs etc, into a new an unique sound. This live cd shows an overview of their career and contains nineteen songs and dances. This cd shows a more than average klezmer band who play a kind of middle of the road klezmer, sounds all fine but it doesnít add much to the many, many other klezmer recordings on this planet. Lead vocalist Deborah Karpel has a nice, high pitched voice that fits the music in most songs. I like Mayn rue plats a lot, she knows how to handle a slow and emotional song. But in a song like Traveling dreydls with a more vivid style, Iím less enthusiastic about her vocal capacity. So, this Traveling show cd is, to my opinion, a nice cd of average Klezmer quality. Probably suitable for a bigger audience because it has very standard and easy to listen to musical arrangements. But it needs more than that to add something to the long, and worldwide much played, tradition of Klezmer music.
www.metropolitanklezmer.com
Eelco Schilder


Mountain Thyme "A Smile at the Door"
Label: Own label; 2006
The Celtic-Appalachian group Mountain Thyme celebrates almost its 25th anniversary. The band started in 1983 and exists out of four women on (harmony) vocals, guitar, percussion, flute and bass, just to name a few of the instruments. On this new cd they have Cathy Grant on violin and viola and Tom Thurman as guest musicians. On the cd they recorded mostly traditional songs and tunes from the Celtic tradition. One of the strongest sides of the cd are the harmony vocals like in Bold riley and My Johnny was a shoemaker, once made famous by Steeley Span. Otherwise the cd has a nice acoustic touch and a very fresh and open atmosphere. On a few occasions I get the feeling that the music has been recorded just a bit too careful. I especially get this feeling on William Taylor and some of the instrumental parts; it could use just a bit more fire. A smile at the door is a nice cd with music that is suitable for a large audience. I personally enjoy the harmony vocal songs the most and would like a bit more power in some parts of the cd, but thatís just a personal taste.
www.mtnthyme.com
Eelco Schilder


Konsonans Retro "A Podolian Affair"
Label:
Oriente musik; cd62; 2007
Konsonans Retro is a wedding brass band from the Ukraine. The band focuses on wedding music of Podolia, which is a mixture of Moldavian, Ukrainian and Jewish styles. The band performed in Krakow on the festival of Jewish culture and are about to prepare some tours through Europe. Itís the first brass band cd I have ever heard from the Ukraine and I was very curious if it would be very different than the many, many brass cdís that are brought on the market each year. Konsonans Retro is a group that plays in the old brass tradition and stays close to the original brass-concept. I find that the Jewish influences are the clearest ones in their music, although the vocals are typical for the Ukrainian music. A podolian affair is a very nice cd with quality brass music. But their Ukraine roots does not, except for the vocals I mentioned before, add much extra to the nice music. Each year I hear many brass cdís both for review and for fun, this is one of the nicer ones but I would be very interested if the group could get more into the brass and folk tradition of the Ukraine and show it in all its typical aspects, which would really add something to the world of brass music.
www.konsonans.com
Eelco Schilder


Die Resonanz Stanonczi "Live at Jazzit"
Label:
No Manís Land; 0633; 2006
Die Resonanz is a group based around Austrian accordionist Johannes Steiner. He plays the diatonic harmonica and has specialised in the Austrian folk accordion. This cd was recorded live together with Amy Denio on saxophone, clarinet and vocals, Norbert Asen on clarinet and chalumeau and Robert Kainar on percussion and drums. The music the band plays is a mixture of eastern European music and free jazz. Besides the accordion itís the sound of Denio, her vocals and saxophone, who influences the sound a lot. Live at Jazzit is a creative cd full of good Balkan beats and improvised jazz work. It has a nice variation of styles and would be enjoyed by lovers of the jazz style most, I think.
www.dieresonanz.at
Eelco Schilder


17 Hippies "Heimlich"
Label: Hipster; 012; 2007
Twelve years ago the band was started in Berlin as an acoustic, unplugged, constantly-changing-the-line-up band. The basic idea behind the band was to mix France, US and Eastern-European roots music into a unique own style. By now, 17 Hippies is much more than that. They also play their own compositions and besides the traditional influences, the music of the first part of the 20th century has influenced them as well. They are no longer a music group only, they come very close to an all-inn music-theatre company. I have seen the band live a few times and like their stage performance a lot. Itís energetic and they are able to bring several atmospheres alive. Sometimes I had the feeling I was watching a 80 years old film while on other moments it was like visiting a Eastern-European wedding party. After such a live performance itís always hard to listen to the cd at home, I missed the live energy and visual aspects. On Heimlich the band makes a great start. Schattenmann is a full speed gypsy style song with great energy and sound. Also the second song Son mystere is fabulous. What a beautiful, sad song with great vocals. Sung in France, this brings back the atmosphere of a nightclub in Paris many many decades ago. Unfortunately this high quality does not continue in the next song, Deine tršnen, the music is nice but the vocals and arrangement is not as effective and intense as in the first two songs. The same feeling I get when listening to a song like tick tack and the moving song, they are a bit too simple to really catch my attention. Than the title song Heimlich is much better again, a nice fragile German ballad. What to say about the cd as a whole? The band really amazes me with strong and inventive music but on the other hand they are not able to be like that in all the songs and that surprises me a bit. With so much quality and experience, it must be possible to record a cd with a more constant quality. I do keep this cd because of the highlights I mentioned before, but most of all Iím looking forward to see them performing live again.
www.17hippies.com
Eelco Schilder


Lesley Curtis "Music Moves Within Me"
Label: Organic blonde; 602; 2006
When I received Lesley Curtis her first solo cd Shock delayed a few years ago, I had mixed feelings towards her music. I liked her voice but wasnít to enthusiastic about the quality of the recordings and the soft style she choose. A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from her asking if I wanted to review her latest cd called Music moves within me. To be honest, I was curious how her new music would sound and how she would have developed through the past few years so I said yes, please! The first impression when I saw the cd and heard the first song was: is this the same Lesley Curtis? Her music got an extreme makeover and doesnít even come close to rock anymore, but not close to folk either. This cd contains eight original songs which bring together (and I quote) spiritual teachings with music, voice and mantra to raise consciousness and to aid self healing. Each song is based on one of the chakraís. First the lyrics, these are of a high spiritual kind. Lines like ĎI honour the goddess motherí ĎIím blessed I have only tendernessí ĎI bow to shiva, the supreme realityí etc. The music has a very soft atmosphere with many harmony vocals and mantra style singing accompanied by soft percussion and keyboard. The production is much better than on her first cd, and I admire the courage Lesley Curtis shows by recording this very personal cd. I think people will react very differently on her new style. Some will enjoy the mantra and healing atmosphere, while for others it will be a bit too spiritual. So it might be a good idea to visit her webpage and listen to some songs, so you can decide for yourself to which category you belong.
www.lesleycurtis.co.uk
Eelco Schilder


Aoife "If I told you"
Label:
Claddagh; spincd1009; 2006
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh is an Irish singer from Donegal, the same area where famous bands like Clannad originally come from. Aoife has been playing and listening to music since her childhood. Already since primary school she plays the tin whistle, fiddle and melodica. Since many years she sings in a church choir and the past fifteen years she has been active as a solo singer. It was her second cd that was a small international success and which I still find sometimes in Dutch cd shops. This, If I told you, is her fourth solo cd on which she sings Irish love songs in a romantic, dreamy style. She is backed by many musicians varying from piano, keyboards to highland pipes and accordion. In a song like Gabhaim molta brighde, she indeed reminds me of the famous Clannad sound. Moody keyboards with her soft vocals rolling like a wave on a sunny beach. But on most other songs she has developed a more own style. Sometimes light rock influences, sometimes very traditional but always sweet as sugar and very accessible. This cd will be liked by these music lovers who are into easy listening with stacks of piano sound, high pitch vocals and finally a good touch of Irish tradition.
www.aoife.ie
Eelco Schilder


Peter Koene & Arietta Zuidhoff "Galgeveld"
Label:
Pan Records; 214; 2007
Peter Koene can be seen as one of the godfathers of Dutch traditional music. Already in the sixties he recorded his first lp with Dutch folksongs, which was one of the first lpís ever in this genre. A few years ago I interviewed him for FolkWorld [-> FW#24]. On his latest cd called Galgeveld he cooperates with singer AriŽtte Zuidhoff, who has a classical background and discovered the traditional music through dancing. They met on a workshop weekend where all kinds of traditional music were taught and shortly after she became part of the band Madlot in which Peter is playing as well. There they discovered that they had the same fascination for Dutch ballades and they decided to start singing them together. It wasnít their plan to record a cd at all, but the more they got into it, the more enthusiastic they got. Especially the changes a ballad goes through in time fascinates them highly. Strangely enough this cd is one of the first ever in Dutch traditional music that contains ballads only. In the past groups did record one or two but always mixed them with fragments of ballads or dances. The interesting thing about ballads is that the lyrics are most important, it is storytelling by using music. And thatís exactly what this cd does, it tells some great sad, mythical or funny stories. Peter Koene is a great story teller and he knows how to bring the ballads alive. He doesnít have the best trained voice and that is exactly what makes him a great storyteller. He uses his own, pure sound and is able to focus on the lyrics instead of the music. AriŽtte is a trained singer and her high pitched vocals do not always fit the songs. I understand every word Peter sings, but sometimes I have trouble understand the text AriŽtte is singing because she focuses much more on the singing part instead on the Ďstoryí part. One of the highlights on this cd is the known traditional Het daghet in den oosten, beautiful mediaeval atmosphere in which AriŽtte's style of singing fits perfectly. Besides Peter and AriŽtte four guest musicians accompany them. The musical arrangements are sober and effective, the musicians take the backing role and never drown the vocals. According to Peter it wasnít their goal to record the songs for purists only. With adding the guest musicians they hope to attract a wider audience so that the beautiful lyrics will be heard by more people than the folkies only. Galgeveld is a friendly cd that contains a nice choice of ballades. I think understanding the Dutch language might help to appreciate this production a bit more.
Interested in Peter Koene, this cd or (Dutch) folk music? You can visit Peter's own radio show at www.live365.com/stations/peterkoene.
www.peterkoene.org
Eelco Schilder


Tantallon "Live"
Label: Own label; 2006
I think the Irish and Scottish traditional music has such a big attraction to people that even outside the Irish and Scottish border many musicians like to play and record the traditional songs and tunes. Tantallon is a German band with a Scottish singer. The band focuses on (harmony) vocals accompanied by guitar, mandolin and percussion. This live cd is their first full length cd and is full with easy going traditional songs. The audience clearly loves the music as they can be heard clapping the rhythms and between the songs. But as a first time listener, I find the cd a bit too unpolished. It might be the way of recording, the sound is a bit dull, like it was recording in a box in stead of a concert hall. Besides that the band falls back on the same rhythms and arrangements to often, a bit more creativity would do the music some good.
www.tantallonband.com
Eelco Schilder


Kriwi "Minsk-Berlin"
Label:
Belpunkt; 003; 2002
The Kriwi is an ancient tribe who lived in an area that spreads from Belarus until India. The band Kriwi plays the traditional music of Belarus with a modern approach. The concept of this album is very simple but effective. It is a journey by train from Minsk to Berlin and between the songs the names of the station are called, which gives the impression of being on a trip through the endless country. Minsk-Berlin is a fantastic cd and absolutely the best music I have heard from Belarus ever. Itís a great mixture of the Russian culture with influences from the West and East. The compositions are very intense and seem to come from deep inside. I love the vocals of lead singer Veranika, the spacey elements and the smooth and effective rhythms. Kriwi has a creative approach to the music which is shown in inventive twists, mystical sounds and surprising musical arrangements. Sometimes a song is like a love song, others are like shamanic dances from many centuries ago. Minsk-Berlin is an intriguing journey which I hope to make many, many times again in future.
www.kriwi.com
Eelco Schilder


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