FolkWorld Issue 34 11/2007

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Burgess, Ådin & Wingård "Doggerland"
Label: Sjelvar; No. SJECD22; 2007; Playing time: 47.42 min
Doggerland is the land mass which 6,000 years ago linked Great Britain to the continent, but which after the ice age was submerged by the North Sea. Englishman Richard Burgess was 6,000 years too late to take the land route, when he emigrated to Norway 30 years ago.
Well known on the Norwegian folk scene, Richard is largely still following his English roots in his music, even if with some input from Scandinavian traditions and musicians. In his band, his is joined by two colleagues from Scandinavia, Anders Ådin and Patrik Wingård.
"Doggerland" has a focus on English ballads, both traditional and self penned in a traditional theme. Along with these come tunes from Norway, the British Isles, France and own material. The intrumentation of the trio combines English concertina, hurdy gurdy, clarinet, guitar and voice. The album has overall more of a slow pace and definitely makes pleasant listening.;
Michael Moll

Julie Fowlis "cuilidh"
Label: Spit&Polish/Shoeshine Records; No. SPIT032; 2007; Playing time: 43.04 min
Julie Fowlis has been one of the rising stars on the Scottish scene over the last couple of years. I had the pleasure to see Julie with her band in concert earlier this year, and was thoroughly impressed. Julie is one of those Gaelic singers who captures any audience, breathing new life into the old songs and making them accessible through her delightful singing and attractive arrangements.
One of her fans is in fact BBC Radio 2 DJ Mark Radcliffe, who compared Julie's songs to those of Kate Bush and Bjork. However trad music fans should not be turned off by this comparison - Mark refers purely to the appeal of the music to a wider audience, but I can reassure you that the music traditions are in no way compromised. Julie's music stays very close to the Gaelic song traditions she has grown up with, from her native Isle of Uist in the Outer Hebrides. The music arrangements are also clearly traditional, provided by some of the top musicians on the British/Irish scene, including (now husband) Eamon Doorley (Danu), John McCusker, Mark Kelly (Altan), Donald Shaw (Capercaillie) and John Doyle (ex Solas).
No doubt we will still hear a lot from this young lady. These are heart warming, beautiful songs from one of the most wonderful Gaelic singers of today.;
Michael Moll

V/A "The Beginners Guide to World Acoustic"
Label: Nascente; No. NSBOX023; 2006; 3CD set
I am usually rather critical about attempts to combine music from around the world on one album, as I often find that the diversity can be too much to take in. In this case, I have to admit that the promotional selection of 12 songs provided by Nascente does appeal a lot, and makes rather intriguing listening. Music from Israel, Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Senegal - from the likes of Yasmin Levy, the Bollywood Brass Band, Sandra Luna, Yat-Kha - is diverse but somehow kind of works together. Of course, with the promotional album only featuring 12 of the total 32 songs that would be on the complete 3 CD set, it is difficult to say whether the whole set of CDs would appeal as much to me. However, based on the "Beginners Guide to Scottish Music" from Nascente, where FolkWorld received the full set of albums, I would be optimistic that the whole set has a high standard.
Related homepage:
Michael Moll

Duane Andrews "Crocus"
Label: Own; No. DA002; 2006; Playing time: 38.35 min
Following the excellence of his last, debut album, Duane Andrews manages on Crocus to keep up with the very high standard he set himself. He is swinging the listener with his guitar through eleven tunes, many of them traditional from as far afield as Ireland, Portugal and Duane's home turf Newfoundland. This is combined with own compositions, Django Reinhard and Gus Deloof. The music is often closer to Jazz than Folk, but should have an appeal to both camps as is extremely catchy and accessible music, where improvisation is strong but always follows a clear musical theme. The session musicians on the CD are also more in the Jazz camp, with double bass, trumpet and rythm guitar. The album finishes with a jazzy "improvisation on the first movement of Mozart's string quintet in G minor K516" - which may not necessarily remind too much of Mozart but has a lot of appeal.
With this convincing second album Duane Andrews has confirmed his position as one of my favourite guitarists. I find quite often that guitar albums cannot capture my attention for their whole length - this is one which makes me want more and more of it.
Michael Moll

Svøbsk "Sig mig"
Label: GO' Danish Folk Music ; No. GOCD0405; 2005; Playing time: 44.57 min
This is the debut of Danish duo Maren Halberg Larsen (accordeon) and Jørgen Dickmeiss (violin, vocal, guitar), a duo which arose from the folk music department of the conservatory in Odense. They prove that they play technically perfectly, with music rooted in Danish folk traditions, but quite a lot of the material either adapted or self pennet. While this duo is certainly talented, I somehow find that, in all its technical perfection, the soul of the music gets lost at times. The tunes one the album are of high quality, however I find that at times the combination of purely violin and accordeon can get a bit much, and the duo could do with the addition of a rhythm instrument. Of the songs, my personal highlight is their translation and adaptation of the Scottish traditional "The two raven" (becoming "De to ravne"), which has a bit more oomph than some of the other chosen songs.;
Michael Moll

if wen "Take a look at the sea"
Label: Folkwit; No F0015; 2007; Playing time: 48.19 min
The promotional copy of this album came with some bits of wood and algae from a beach, and the notes say that the album was written on a beach in Cornwall (in fact reading the notes in detail some of it was written "by a river in London"). With all this promo gimmick making the reviewer more curious about the content of the album, I found the music even more disappointing. The mysterious "if wen" alias "gfurby" sings us on the album through 12 of his songs, which were recorded in a barn "using a cheap mike and a second hand recorder", and mixed by if wen in an attick, adding to the guitar various other instruments such as bass, piano or percussion. The songs, overall more pop style, all sound to me quite same-y, and I find neither his voice nor his arrangements particularly inspiring. The algae were neither of particular use for me. But no doubt if wen will have his fans out there.
Michael Moll

Sussie Nielsen "Day is dawning"
Label: GO' Danish Folk Music ; No. GOCD0405; time: 42.16 min
A beautiful album of Irish song, full of the soul of the traditional songs - sung by a young Danish singer. Sussie Nielsen has had a passion for Irish music since her early teenage years. This passion went that far that in 2002 she started at the Irish World Music Centre at the University of Limerick, where she took an M.A. in Irish Traditional Music Performance.
Her second album of Irish songs does not give any clue that Sussie may not be Irish born and grown up with the Irish tradition. Her slow songs are subtly accompanied by some of the top musicians on the Scandianvian-Celtic folk scene, and include Denmark based Welsh harpist Helen Davies, Ranarim's nyckelharpa player Niklas Roswall, Irish fiddler Caoimhin O Raghallaigh and Trio Mio's pianist Nikolaj Busk. Most of the songs are the lesser known traditional songs, and all are performed with beauty.;
Michael Moll

Acetre "Canto de gamusinos"
Label: Own/Extramadura; No. D-661; 1999; Playing time: 66 min
Acetre "Barrunto"
Label: Own/Extramadura; 2003; Playing time: 54 min

The two latest albums of this attracitve outfit from Spain. The theme is "Folk bilingüe" combining folk traditions from Spain and Portugal. As you would expect of a nine-piece band, the band's sound is very full, and the combination of instruments is highly appealing. Instruments include accordeon, flutes, clarinet, violin, double bass and percussion. On the newer album, "Barrunto", there are additionally a host of guest musicians (in total 16 different additional musicians).
The music is full of sunshine and warmths - while clearly deeply steeped in Spanish and Portuguese music traditions (nearly all numbers are traditional), the arrangements have brought the old songs to today's times, with influences from classical and pop music. Many of the songs are based around the band's strong and intense female voices, often with attractive chorus singing.
Acetre convince with their intriguing, exciting and highly appealing music. Comparing the two CDs, "Barrunto" would be my first choice; the album appears to me more rounded and the arrangements more clever and variable. "Barrunto" has already now taken a space amongst my Spanish favourites - highly recommended.
Michael Moll

La Talvera "Bramadis"
Label: Own; No. TAL13; 2007; Playing time: 63 min
La Talvera "Cants e musicas del pais de lodeva"
Label: Own; No. TAL12; 2006; Playing time: 47 min
FolkWorld has reviewed previous albums of La Talvera, one of the oldest established folk bands reviving the Occitan traditions of Southern France and Northern Italy. The two latest offerings show that the band has not much changed its musical concept, and are still further exploring and developing Occitan music traditions.
La Talvera is known of having produced some albums with traditional and others with new material. Again the material of the two albums is of quite different origins. On "Cants e musicas del pais de lodeva", La Talvera recorded Occitan songs collected between 1840 and 1850 in the area of Lodeve (Herault). The collection has only very recently been recovered in the French National Library. None of the songs have ever been recorded before. Meanwhile, "Bramadis" features 17 songs all written by band member Daniel Loddo; all songs are on Occitan language and sound in style very similar to the traditional material on the other album.
Trade mark of the band is the intense and somewhat shrill voice of Celine Ricard, with all instrumentation built around the singing with a focus on rythmic arrangements. Instruments include accordeon, clarinet, pipes, banjo, hautbois, percussion, tambourin, violin.
The music transports the listener to village fetes in Southern France, with the music being happy, rhythmic, full of joi de vivre. However, for me the somewhat shrill voice and instrumentation and the constantly repetitive rhythms get soon a bit much, and it is rare that I would fancy to listen through a whole album of La Talvera. But clearly the quality of the music is high throughout.
Michael Moll

Musicanti del Piccolo Borgo "musicaMusicanti"
Label: RadiciMusic Records; No. RMR-116; 2006
An appealing album of Central/Southern Italian music from the band linked to the association "Musicanti del Piccolo Borgo" ("The Musicians of the small village"). This association was set up in 1976 in Rome to recover, study and revive music traditions from the southern and central parts of Italy. The band has been one of the important bands of the Italian folk revival in the 70s. Throughout its 30 years history, they stayed true to their principle of reviving all folk traditions, using the orginal instruments.
The band principally uses the whole range of ancient Italian instruments, including the baroque right flute, bagpipes, reedpipes, Italian string instruments (mandoline, mandola, mandoloncello) and the diatonic concertina. The band also features two distinctive singers with attactive voices - the female lead singer has a strong voice, while one of the men in the band sings an intense alto.
This album brings together the band's favourite numbers of their albums betwwen 1994 and 2003. While being so closely based on Italian folk traditions, the album does not have at all the feeling of music out of a museum full of cobwebs - far from it: The music sounds extremely fresh and appealing for a wide audience of fans of folk music and beyond. It is apparent that the musicians have a real passion for their music, creating an album full of warmth., ;
Michael Moll

Niamh Parsons & Graham Dunne "Live at Fylde"
Label: Own/Gramsham Records; No. GDCD002; 2005; Playing time: 49.06 min
Niamh Parsons with Graham Dunne "The old simplicity"
Label: Green Linnet; No. GLCD1235; 2005; Playing time: 53.51 min
Niamh Parsons, one of the best traditional Irish singers of our time, has been selected by FolkWorld's team as one of the 10 most outstanding artists from Ireland & UK of the last 10 years.
The beautiful live album "Live at Fylde" would convince probably anybody that this was a justified choice. This album presents Niamh's singing at her very best and purest: The recording brining out the best of Niamh's voice, fully reflecting the warmth and emotion in her singing, and her singing simply and subtly accompanied by genius guitarist Graham Dunne. The selection of songs is kind of a "best of" collection, with many of her favourites - including "Blackbirds and Thrushes", "Black is the Colour", "The Boys of Barr na Sraide" and "An Paistin Fionn". Graham's guitar skills shine throughout, and he also offers a stunning solo performance, with a set of jigs. This is top class collection of Irish songs, presented in the warm and intimate way unique to Niamh's singing. One of those rare albums which fully captures you, which you won't want to interrupt, and where Niamh's singing constantly sends shivers down the spine. The best capturing of the magic of Niamh's singing on CD published to date.
After the excellence of "Live at Fylde", Niamh's latest studio album "The old simplicity" comes along rather disappointingly. The best way to compare the two albums is listening to the one song which is featured on both CDs: Ron Kavana's "The men that god made mad". On "Live at Fylde", the song stands out, drawing you in, full of emotions an depths. With the same song on "The old simplicity", Niamh's singing sounds more tired, less emotional, and the whole arrangement sounds more bland (even though it includes additional instruments with violin, bass and aaccordion). This is reflected on the whole of the album, missing the emotion, warmth and natural approach of "Live at Fylde". At a guess the key to the success of "Live at the Fylde" is that Niamh may need a real audiance to sing to to bring out the best of her. I also feel that "The old simplicity" is somewhat over-produced, with some of the warmth and the edges being taking out of Niamh's singing. The musical arrangements are also at times more than required - Niamh's singing shines most if arranged in a most simple and subtle way - Graham Dunne's guitar is generally quite enough. Clearly I am more critical of this album because of the simple excellence of the live album.
The choice of songs on "The old simplicity" combines traditionals (e.g. Poor Irish Stranger, Long Cookstown (Nancy Whisky)) and contemporary songs, from the likes of Alistair Hulett, Kieran Halpin, Maria Dunn and David Olney. Produced by Dennis Cahill and recorded in Chicago, the album features, additionally to Graham Dunne's guitar, guitars, bass, strings, accordion, mandolin, bouzouki. However, the spark is somewhat missing - even compared to some of Niamh's previous studio albums. In summary, "The old simplicity" is a good collection of songs sung by an excellent singer, however I would not class the album as memorable or impressive.
Meanwhile, "Live at Fylde" is the best album from Niamh Parsons so far, fully capturing the essence of this unique singer -a "must have" for anybody appreciating Irish traditional songs. I would love to hear the whole set of songs from "The old simplicity" treated the same way as the "Live at Fylde" recording - live and simplistic. More live albums please, Niamh!
Michael Moll

Chris Stout Quintet "Devil's Advocate"
Label: Greentrax; No. CDTRAX305; 2007; Playing time: 45 min
If you would ask me for the handful of favourite albums of the last decade, I probably would include Chris Stout's last "solo" album "First o' the darkenin" in it - which was also voted best album in FolkWorld's editors' choice in 2004.
His new album features principally the same band as "First o' the darkenin", so my expectations of this album were very high. And I have to say that I am isappointed by his latest offering. Compared to his previous work of art, I find that this album is much more difficult to get into. I feel that in a number of tunes, Chris tries to be too clever for his own good, creating too complex melodies with at times too much "planned improvisation". The basics of many of his compositions are exciting, and the musicianship of Chris and the band is of the highest standard - but somehow the overall experience of the album is by far not as memorable as his last one was.
If I would not have known Chris' "First o the darkenin" album, I probably would have been impressed by the album and given it a very good review. The tunes. mostly composed by Chris, all have the trademark Chris Stout, with his unmistakeable fiddle style. The Quintet brings together some of the most exciting and innovative musicians on the Scottish scene - Fraser Fifield (sax), Catriona McKay (piano, harp), Neil Harland (double bass) and Malcolm Stitt (guitar).
If you have the choice of buying either of the two albums, go for his previous one - if you don't you could do by far worse than purchasing "devil's advocate".,
Michael Moll

Andy Wittle "A songmaker's tale"
Label: Folkwit; No. f0019; 2007; Playing time: 51 min
Rebecca Clamp "Nocturnal Leap"
Label: Folkwit; No. f0014; 2005; Playing time: 38 min
The Red Flags "Hundreds of Sunshine"
Label:Folkwit; No. f0012; 2006; Playing time: 46 min
Pulco "Sorepaw"
Label:Folkwit; No. f0017; 2007; Playing time: 44 min
Folkwit Records specialises in recording English singer/songwriters, as you would hear quite often in folk clubs up and down the country - as floor spots as well as at times as main perfomers. The four albums in this block of reviews all fit into this category.
Andy Wittle, songwriter from Nottingham, proves on the album that he writes good lyrics, based on his own culture and experience. The music is focussed on guitar and voice, with some supporting instrumentation, and the album would make me look forward to see a floorspot at my local folk club.
Rebecca Clamp, originally from Cambridge but now based in Finland, stands out from this lot of CDs, as she plays piano along to her songs, rather than guitar. I really enjoy her piano playing, and the lyrics of her songs may be witty, but I do not take at all to her unmelodic and slightly shrill voice and singing.
The Red Flags is a duo of singer/songwriter Keith Mouland and upright bass player/multiinstrumentalist KC (Harry) O'Shea. The influence of style, and lyrics, of this album clearly comes from across the big pond, based around American country and blues.
Last not least Pulco, a.k.a. Ash Cooke, formerly of Welsh indie band Derrero. This is for me probably the pick of the bunch, songs with attractive melodies. The first song on the album really took my attention and interest, however for a whole album I find that Ash's singing tends to sound a bit too samey for my liking.
In general, for me, I would be happy enough to experience floorspots of these singer/songwriters, however I feel that I do not really need their albums in my CD collection.
Michael Moll

The Cast "Greengold"
Label: Greentrax; No. CDTRAX319; 2007; Playing time: 40.30 min
This stunning album is the strongest contender to date for my favourite album of 2007. It took the wife-husband duo Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis a full 11 years from their last album, "Colour of Lichen", to bring out another album - but the wait was worth every year, every day, every minute, as "Greengold" is pure beauty and perfection from the first second to the last.
The Cast's approach to songs is impressive, unusual and brave - minimalist instrumentation to songs with rather complex melodies and arrangements. Clearly a high degree of musical talent as well as confidence is required for such an approach. Mairi's singing is enchantingly beautiful; Dave's subtle guitar playing impressively highlights the singing; and Mairi also adds some soft fiddle and viola playing to the mixture. In that, the concept has not changed since their last album.
It is difficult to pick highlights from this superb album. There are a number of The Cast compositions with wonderful lyrics; "Smile or Cry" and "There is light" are most memorable and the melodies may well stay with you for the rest of the day. The Cast's sensual and playful interpretation of Robert Burns' "A red red rose" could well be a new definite version of this beautiful song (similarly to The Cast's version of "Auld Lang Syne" on their previous album). "The day dawn", the version with Jane Hazeldean's lyrics, is full of warmth and magic. A couple of attractive tunes composed by Mairi round off the selection. The album is finished with a captivating song to mark the 125th anniversary of a ferocious storm which took the lives of over half of the men of the village of Cove who went out to sea that day.
"greengold" is a delight, a wonderful and enchanting album for quiet winter nights. Absolutely perfect and stunning throughout - highly recommended.
Michael Moll

Dàimh "Crossing point"
Label: Greentrax; No. CDTRAX316; 2007; Playing time: 48.48 min
Dàimh is very much an inter-Celtic band, bringing together musicians from Cape Breton Island, Ireland, the West Highlands of Scotland and America. And all of these background shine through somewhere on this album; the listener may sometimes think that this is a typical Irish trad band, while then moving over to more Scottish sounds, with clear influences from the Celtic scenes across the big pond - and with some musical trips to further flung Celtic places such as Galicia. The musicians provide a full sound, with border and highland pipes and whistles (Angus MacKenzie), banjo/mandola (Colm O'Rua), fiddle (Gabe McVarish), bodhran (James Bremner) and guitar (Ross Martin). There are also four Gaelic songs from the Scottish west coast, sung by Calum Alex MacMillan.
The musicianship is high throughout, however, I do feel that the recording has taken out some of the soul of the music. While the talent of the musicians shines throughout the album, the certain something that personalises the music and gives it its soul is sometimes missing - is this because the studio made not the most natural environment for these musicians, and in "normal" circumstances on stage or in a pub session the music would be all heart and soul? I would love to see the band in live to experience for myself whether, as I believe it is, Dàimh are indeed a top class act in every respect.,
Michael Moll

V/A "Soffi d'ancia - Decennale del Festival Pifferi, muse e zampogne"
Label: RadiciMusic Records; No. RMR113; 2005; Playing time: 76.17 min
Guessing the meaning of the Italian title, this album appears to celebrate the 10th anniversary of an Italian folk festival. For the 76 minutes of the CD, the listener is taken onto a varied journey through the Italian folk scene - 21 numbers from 20 different bands - traditional and contemporary songs and instrumentals, all very much in the Italian folk music tradition. All titles are taken from studio albums, from as many as seven different Italian record companies. Amongst the artists are several that I recognise from previous occasions - Din Delon, Fabrizio Goggi, Musicanti del Piccolo Borgo, Birkin Tree, I Musetta - but also a number of artists completely new to me. The CD as a whole makes enjoyable listening. It gives a good introduction to anybody new to Italian folk music, but also allows for new discoveries for those with previous knowledge.,
Michael Moll

Finlay MacDonald Band "reecho"
Label: Greentrax; No. CDTRAX299; 2007; Playing time: 44 min
The Finlay MacDonald Band brings together an impressive bunch of musicians on the edge of innovative Scottish folk music: Finlay MacDonald himself on Highland and Border Pipes and whistles, the brilliant Chris Stout on fiddle, Kevin MacKenzie (of Keep it up and others) on guitars, Fergus MacKenzie on drums and percussion and John Speirs on Bass. "reecho" follows clearly the recent trendy Scottish trancy music, followed by the likes of Peatbog Fairies and Croft No. 5. The music combines traditional tunes with Finlay MacDonald compositions, plus the odd one from the likes of Martyn Bennet or Chris Armstrong. Most of the music is clearly dance music (i.e. disco dance music), the most notable exception probably being a slow pipe tune from Bulgaria.
Overall I don't think that the music of the Finlay MacDonald band can quite match yet the likes of Peatbog Fairies or Croft No.5, even though clearly there are lots of interesting ideas and a lot of talent presented on the album. I do find though that several of the tunes are very repetitive, in particular the repetive pipe melodies can easily nerve me. Shame, as I somewhat expected more of this line-up.
Michael Moll

Rosapaeda "Mater"
Label: Felmay; No. fy8124; 2007; Playing time: 43.02 min
Following Rosapaeda's celebrated last album, "in forma di rosa", and the artist's selection as one of FolkWorld's best Italian folk acts of the last decade, my expectations were understandably high for the new album "Mater", released a full six years after her last album. And while "Mater" is a solid, good quality album, my expectations were not fully met.
Rosapaeda's strong and dominating voice remains impressive, and her band, similar in its instrumentation to that from "in forma di rosa", provides some inspiring and exciting arrangements. The instrumentation is often based around accordion, guitars and percussion, added at times by classic guitar, piano, bass, sax soprano, tamorre. So why have my expectations not been met? One thing is that the arrangements and songs not being quite as sophisticated and impressive as on "in forma di rosa". But probably more importantly, the concept of the album is too similar to that of her previous album, and a couple of songs sound extremely familiar as if they have appeared, in a slightly different arranangement, on her previous album. In fact the last two songs on the album (the two remixes of the album, "O re re" - which is also feature non-remixed on this album - and "Pizzicatrance") sounded that familiar that I had to dig out "in forma di rosa" to check whether the songs were the same (which they were not). And then considering that the album is only 43 minutes long...
I still love Rosapaeda's style and her band's music, but somehow I feel not inclined to put "Mater" into my CD player when I can as well listen to the more exciting "in forma di rosa". If I would not know "in forma di rosa", I would have recommended this album though.,
Michael Moll

Waking the Witch "Boys from the abattoir"
Label: Own/Witch Records; No. WITCH-02; 2007; Playing time: 47.45 min
To label Waking the Witch's music as folk or even singer/songwriter would not really hit the mark. The "four girls who all write songs, all sing harmonies and all play acoustic guitar" (as they describe themselves) perform songs which are probably somewhere between indie and acoustic pop. With their latest release, this indie element has been further strengthened with their new producer Dave Creffield, whose credentials include working with Embrace and the Kaiser Chiefs.
It took me several times listening to this album to start really appreciating it, but the songs have definitely grown on me. Overall the album presents songs with good lyrics (all written by the band members; with the lyrics more in the pop/indie than the trad/folk camp), some catchy melodies, appealing harmonies. The instrumentation is based around guitars, with some additions of bass, drums, violin, cello etc. Personal highlight would be the catchy title song "Jenny Thornton and the Boys of the abattoir".
Michael Moll

Kroke "Seventh trip"
Label: Oriente music; cd 63; 2006
Kroke, Yiddish word for the beautiful Polish town Krakow, was founded in 1992 by three musicians who studied at the music academy of Krakow. The seventh trip is, this might surprise you, their seventh cd. In the past the band has been rewarded with the German musical critics award for their cd The sounds of the vanishing world. The basic for their mostly self penned, compositions is the Yiddish tradition, which they mix with other traditional styles and jazz. They take good care of their compositions, always trying to invent new sounds, new interpretations of traditional themes. The opening track Awakening starts like an Arabic dance and has a good electric rock end. Papillon shows exactly the quality of Kroke, they use every corner of their instruments and even use their voice to create an extra layer in this composition. Nice violin solo with an inpatient accordion at the background. The only traditional tune on the cd Canon has a typical Yiddish atmosphere, again strong work on the violin. River of shadows is a bit dark, tune with smooth (electronic?) percussion. In Journey the music changes from a crazy flute to a jazzy end with voice, percussion, violin and accordion. Again this new cd by Kroke is a good piece of music. Not as innovating anymore as their previous work, I think people who follow the band closely will often recognize the style and way they make the musical arrangements. But nevertheless a work of high quality by one of the best Polish bands of today. -
Eelco Schilder

Huun-Huur Tu "Live in Munich" DVD
Label: Jaro, DVD; No. 4284-8; 2007
Tuva, a country that has been unknown to most people for decades. But the past fifteen years, lovers of good traditional music got to know this country bit by bit. Several bands have a big audience far from the country borders. For the more rock orientated people, it was Yat-kha who opened the way to the fascinating Tuva traditional singing, but at least as famous is Huun huur tu, who have a more traditional and acoustic approach. After several cd's Jaro released a live dvd with a concert the band gave in Munich in 2002. Besides that, a documentary in Russian, audio and backstage as extra material. The DVD shows the quality of the band, music that takes your breath away by four musician who actually hardly move on stage but play so concentrated and straight from the heart that it 's great to watch. This dvd is a welcome addition to the Huun huur tu cd collection. Small quiz for the first time Tuva music listener; did you find out who is playing the whistle already?;
Eelco Schilder

Sharron Kraus et al. "Right wantonly a-mumming"
Label: Bo weavil recordings, No. 25cd; 2007
Sharron Kraus, I have a weak spot for her music ever since I heard her first solo cd 'beautiful twisted'. Her pure interpretation of a traditional style is very hard to find these days. So Bo weavil records made my day by sending her latest cd Right wantonly a mumming. It wouldn't be far to write that it's a Sharron Krauss solo cd, because she is helped by a bunch of great musicians including John Spiers and Jon Boden. On the cd she sings celebration songs, five traditional ones, including Barleycorn. This is such a cd that I'm about to write a small piece about each song, well I'm not going to do that. Sharron Kraus is at her best and she chooses the perfect partners in music. It's amazing how she, even in her self written songs, is able to put such traditional pure sound in her songs but still sounding fresh and up to date. Sometimes it's like I'm listening to the never published tracks of the Morris on lp's from mid seventies, or early Silly sisters songs. As I wrote in 2002 in the review of her first cd, I will write the last two words again BUY IT!!!;
Eelco Schilder

Kitaro "Spiritual garden"
Label: Domo; Nos 73050 & 73062; 2006
The Japanese musician/composer Kitaro has a worldwide audience for almost thirty years now. His music and compositions can be heard on almost ninety cd's and he sold over 10 millions of lp/cd worldwide. Starting many years ago with songs that were rooted in the Japanese tradition, over the years his synthesiser music got more and more universal. The past ten year his music got more calm and his latest work, Spiritual garden, is a relaxing piece of new age music with stacks of synthesisers, repeating melodies and songs that makes me yawn. I noticed that this new cd has very little oriental influences, but is elevator music which could be composed or recorded everywhere on this planet. A bit more exiting is his cd The essential. In the same new age vein but with a bit more bombast. Here you can still hear his roots dripping through the wall of electronic sounds. I stopped listening to Kitaro many years ago and these cd's show exactly why. His music is too theatrical, bombastic and too predictable for me personally.;
Eelco Schilder

Eric Bibb "Diamond days"
Label: Telarc, No. 83660; 2006
Eric Bibb was born in New-York and grew up in a surrounding full of music. His father, Leon Bibb, was a folksinger, his uncle, John Lewis, a jazz pianist and artists such as Pete Seeger were often around. Starting to play steel guitar at the age of seven and told by Mister Dylan himself, that he should keep his music simple. And so he did. After a great collection of cd's and dvd's, his latest cd Diamond days, is a small masterwork and one of the highlights in his career. Together with several musicians he sings eleven self written songs and the Dylan song Buckets of rain. Bibb mixes folk and blues with a light touch of other styles like gospel. His voice got better through the years and he sings with such a peaceful mind, that his music makes me calm and gets deep into my heart. This is not a cd to spend words on, this is a cd to buy and listen to. Many, many times.
Eelco Schilder

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 11/2007

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