Issue 8 2/99

FolkWorld CD Reviews


Bachué "A Certain Smile"
Culburnie Records; CUL114D; Playing time: 60.56 min
Bachué - alias Corrina Hewit (vocals, Scottish harp) and David Milligan (piano, guitar) - are one of the freshest and most intesting duos to come out of the traditional music scene of Scotland. Both are well known names in the trad and folk scene as well as in the jazz circuit. The jazz side of their background adds the certain fresh, new and unique approach to their trad (and self composed) music. The music gets a new edge and is absolutely exciting.
The two are backed on this, their second album, by Brian Sheils on double bass, the ex-Old Blind Dogs percussionist Davy Cattanach, Phil Bancroft on tenor and soprano saxophone and by Horse McDonald on harmony vocals. The guests give a further jazzy flavour to this album, without taking over the centre of the music, giving the right emphasis on Corrrina and David's music.
The album consists of ten instrumental tracks, four traditional songs (My Johnny Was a Shoemaker, The Birkin Tree, etc) and one Jazz ballad which fits well between the folk songs; it is backed just by David's piano - brilliant!
All in all just a wonderful harmonising album with lots of highlights - for me the best album to have come from Scotland for quite a while.
Culburnie Records
Christian Moll

Morten Alfred Høirup "Vingården (the Vineyard)"
Label: Between Your Ears Productions; BYEP CD 001; 9 Tracks; Playing Time: 40.40 min
Morten Alfred Høirup's first solo album is a real gem. The music is full of grace and beauty, with intricate and extremely varied arrangements.
Morten Alfred Høirup is a guitarist, but uses his solo album to showcase his skills as a composer and arranger rather than a dazzling instrumentalist. Consequently, this is not primarily a "guitar album". While he does play guitar on all nine tracks, Høirup does allow his guests to take centre stage wherever the tune demands it. He is joined on the album by the other members of his band American Cafe Orchestra, Ruthie Dornfeld (viola, violin) and Tapani Varis (bass, flute, jew's harp), as well as the Danish trio Lang Linken: Carl Erik Lundgaard (accordeon), Poul Lendal (violin, hurdy-gurdy, jew's harp, percussion) and Keld Nørdgaard (violin, nordic bagpipes, kantele).
There are six original tunes and three traditional songs. The tunes are dance melodies in various time signatures (3/4, 7/8, 5/8), but played slowly and precisely enough that they invite the listener to sit back and listen carefully rather than get up and dance. The songs are ancient ballads, which tell mythical stories from Danish folklore. The whole album is thoroughly rooted in the Danish tradition, and a brilliant modern contribution to it.
Mail for further information
Anja Beinroth

Sorten Muld "Mark II"
Label: Pladecompagniet/Sony Music Denmark; PCCD8137; Playing time: 58.23 min
The most successful band the Danish folk scene has -maybe ever - produced - they were nominated for 8 Danish Grammy's in 1998: Danish band of the Year, Danish Female Singer of the Year, Danish Album of the Year (exactly this reviewed album), Danish Hit of the Year, Danish Techno Release of the Year, Danish Producer of the Year and finally Danish Cover of the Year. And this is still folk you ask?
Well actually I am not sure about that. Concept of Sorten Muld is to combine medieval Scandinavian ballads with Techno and Trip Hop; the medieval/folk element are the songs of Ulla Bendixen and Martin Seeberg's Bagpipes and Jews Harp. Added to these are programming, 'sound design', percussions, double bass and guitar.
All in all the combination works, although sometimes it is for me too much Techno, Trip Hop and whatever else, making the old ballads - well - a bit too noisy. Ulla has a really beautiful, crystal clear voice; listening to the first number of the CD, I can't avoid to make a comparison to Capercaillie - the arrangement, and also the voice is very similar. But - in my opinion unfortunately - they can't stand the comparison to be the Danish Capercaillie; the techno elements are too heavy, the folk element too weak in parts. Still, Sorten Muld have a large following also in the young Danish folk music scene. And - as we see with their Grammy nominations - their blend of music is hugely successful in very diverse music scenes.
Definitely a very interesting approach, still only recommandable for those who are VERY open to modern music styles.
Sorten Muld's Homepage
Michael Moll

Tabache "Waves of Rush"
KRL/Lochshore; CDLDL 1283 ; Playing time: 50.05 min
Tabache are surely on their way to become famous. 'Waves of Rush' is the second album of this duo from Scotland (both are now based in Scotland, although Claire is from Newcastle). It is always hard for a band to follow a highly acclaimed debut album, but Tabache seem to have no problems to keep their high standard.
Let's talk about the musicians - Tabache are the young master fiddler Aidan O' Rourke and Claire Mann on flute, fiddle, vocals and whistle. Both are highly talented musicians and as a group their have created a distinctive sound steeped in the Scottish traditions, but also with influences from Ireland and England. In live, they are currently joined by young guitarist Ross Martin the most times - on the album, their former guitarist/bouzouki player Malcolm Stitt (Deaf Shepherd, Boys Of the Lough, Keep it Up,..) can be heard. Malc is not the only guest, the others are Neil Cameron (Mick West Band) on double bass, Donald Hay on percussion, Marc Duff (ex-Capercaillie) on bodhran, Deaf Shepherd's Rory Campbell on border pipes and finally Capercaillie's leader Donald Shaw, who not only played keyboards, but also produced this fine album.
Inbetween the traditional tunes, Aidan has written quite a few. Three songs (one from Scotland, one from England and one from Northern Ireland) are sung by Claire with her clear voice with lots of passion. This duo is certainly one to watch out for.
Christian Moll

Garret O Fachtna "A Jumble of Beginnings"
To be honest, amongst the sea of new bands and artists that are emerging onto the Irish/ Celtic music scene, itís pretty hard to produce an outstanding CD that grabs the listener immediately. O Fachtnaís album sometimes lapses into middle-of-the-road country/ folk ballads, and one feels that the uillean pipes, accordion, whistles and bodhran could have taken more of a centrestage role, instead of merely accompanying the main melody of the tunes. Having said this however, some of the lyrics are wryly humorous- ĎAnother Sunday comes around/ But thereís no chapel in this town/ So he worships at the bar again/ Till he leaves with the girl with the long blond hairí being one example. Maybe this is an album which grows on the listener gradually; O Fachtnaís vocals are certainly exceptionally poignant at times.
Kathy Tan

Deirdre Cunningham Band "Cry From The Heart"
KRL/Lochshore Records; CDLDL 1277; 11 Tracks; Playing Time: 47.41 min
Yes, you might have heard of Deidre Cunningham, as she has performed with the likes of Christy Moore, Hothouse Flowers, Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson. Her debut album, 'Sunny Days' offered seven self-written tracks, announcing the arrival of a new talent on the song-writing scene. Her music reminds me of the likes of Rusted Root and Spirit of the West, although there is a distinct almost middle-Eastern percussion rhythm pulsing through the songs, thanks to the talents of Conor Gillen, who plays the djemba, bodhran and Indian tablas. His fusion of Afro, Cuban, Jazz and funk styles comes out clearly on this album Liam Cunningham and Steve Wickham complete the four-piece band, and yes, Wickham has been guest musician on U2's 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', The Waterboys' 'Fisherman's Blues' and Sinead O'Connor's 'I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got'. In my opinion, the Deidre Cunningham Band are gradually coming into recognition within the Celtic/ folk music scene, so don't wait till the end of the year to say that you've got a copy of their new album!
KRL/Lochshore Records
Kathy Tan

Common Ground "Wings of Silver" (1996);
"Live at the Emu Farm" (1998)

Uncommonly Round
Live at the Emu Farm is dedicated to the memory of Cheryl Cloud, who wrote most of the band's songs, and sadly, died of cancer four years ago. Common Ground's folk/ rock roots are brought to the fore in their latest release, a live album which was recorded in front of an audience of specially invited family, friends and loved ones in 1997. The mix of traditional tunes and original songs on this album demonstrates the steady career of this Southern California based band, who did a 20 year anniversary commemorative tour last year. To be honest though, I preferred the traditional Irish tunes to the more country rock numbers on the live CD, but each to his/her own! Certainly, this new release reaffirms the band's long-standing place in the American folk scene as one of the most popular live folk acts in the States.
Uncommonly Round
Kathy Tan

Rawlins Cross "Living River"
Magnetic Music
With this album, Rawlins Cross confirm their place in the stage of younger Irish/Celtic folk musicians emerging out of the States and Canada, along with the likes of other bands such as the Mahones and the Rankins. Having heard a previous album of theirs, I was pleased to listen to thirteen new tracks which ranged from the traditional instrumentals like 'Little Sara/ Jessie's Jig' and 'Mairi Nighean Alasdair' to the more eclectic mix of pop-rock, folk, country and even ska, on tracks like 'A Sad Story', 'The Morning After' and 'Baby-Oh'. Natalie MacMaster as guest musician adds a nice touch to the album, which should see an increase in the Rawlins Cross fan-base. Check out the first track, 'Forever Dancing', which is a great toe-tapping, head-bopping, opener to the album.
Since "Living River", a newer album, "Make it On Time", has been published by Magnetic Music; the Editors.
Magnetic Music
Kathy Tan

Capercaillie "Dusk till Dawn" (The Best of)
Label: Survival Records
With 74 minutes of music, this selection of 17 tracks from the repertoire of probably the most famous contemporary Celtic music act from Scotland is a great addition to any folkie's CD collection, and serves as a great introduction to the band's music (if one is needed!) I certainly found myself singing along to the great selection of favourites, both old and new. Included on this compilation are the band's first Top 40 Gaelic single, 'Coisich a Ruin', a remix version of 'Miracle of Being', the theme song from Rob Roy, 'Ailein Duinn', a 1998 version of 'Inexile' featuring African vocalists Sibeba, and an ultra rare live versin of 'Breisleach', which proves the band's ability to fuse Celtic and World music in a distinctive way which has guaranteed their continued success in the Celtic/ Folk scene today. What more can I say? Buy this album now, and play it, literally, from dusk till dawn!
Kathy Tan

Various "The Rough Guide to Salsa"
World Music Network; RGNET 1017 CD; 14 Tracks; Playing Time: 68.42 min
Various "The Rough Guide to Cajun and Zydeco"
Label: World Music Network; RGNET 1028 CD; 19 Tracks; Playing Time: 66.15 min
Various "The Rough Guide to Classic Jazz"
Label: World Music Network; RGNET 1012 CD; 24 Tracks; Playing Time: 73.21 min
The Rough Guide CDs tend to be aimed at people who are just beginning to develop an interest in an area's regional music and are looking for an overview. This is certainly true of these three, so the serious cajun, zydeco, salsa or jazz fan will probably find little of interest here.
On the other hand, the legions of people who've recently stumbled across Cuban music due to the success of the "Buena Vista Social Club"-CD should provide a ready market for "The Rough Guide to Salsa". "Salsa" has established itself as an umbrella term for the infectious South American dance music with roots in Cuba and Puerto Rico which has spread right across Latin America and beyond. The album kicks off with three exponents of Colombian salsa, La Sonora Carruseles, The Latin Brothers and Joe Arroyo Y La Verdad, before moving on to Cuba and one of the earliest salsa players, Mario Bauzá. It stays with the Cuban artists for the next few tracks by Ritmo Y Candela, Conjunto Campesino Cuyaguateje, Familia Valera Miranda and one of Cuba's most successful recent exports, trumpeter Jesús Alemañy's ¡Cubanismo!. Oscar d'Leon also plays in the Cuban style, but stems from Venezuela where he is massively popular. The next two tracks take us back to Colombia; first with the "musica tropical"-style of La Sonora Dinamita, then with Fruko Y Sus Tesos, described as "the Godfather of Colombian salsa" in the liner notes. After the Cuban Grupo el Organo Pinareño, the album concludes with tracks by the pianists Alfredo Rodríguez and Charlie Palmieri. And if by then you're not up and dancing, there must be something wrong with you.
"The Rough Guide to Cajun and Zydeco" features the main American exponents of the two genres (but overlooks their European-based counterparts such as Pierre LeRue). On the more traditional Cajun side, the Doucet family dominates, with solo tracks from both Michael and David Doucet as well as tracks by Beausoleil (two) and the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band. Also included are Nathan Abshire, Jimmy C. Newman, Wallace 'Cheese' Read, the California Cajun Orchestra, Eddie LeJeune, Jo-El Sonnier and D.L. Menard. The rockier, accordeon-led zydeco style is represented by a broad range of artists, from its inventor Clifton Chenier via Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas and Bruce Daigrepont to Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, John Delafose & the Eunice Playboys and Buckwheat Zydeco (two tracks). Speaking as someone who tends to get bored with the cajun style after a few tracks on single-artist albums, this collection is varied enough to work very well and seems to me to be the ideal choice for someone looking to add just one cajun / zydeco album to their collection.
As for "The Rough Guide to Classic Jazz", it doesn't really fall within the scope of this magazine, so I'll keep it brief: a generous selection of early jazz artists, some extremely popular such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, plus tracks from Jelly-Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, Fletcher Henderson & his Orchestra, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, J.C. Cobb, State Street Ramblers, Pinetop Smith, McKenzie & Condon's Chicagoans, Bix Beiderbecke, The Charleston Chasers, Miff Mole & his Molers, Eddie Condon, Clarence Williams, Kansas City Orchestra and Don Redman & his Orchestra.
World Music Network
Anja Beinroth

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