Issue 10 07/99
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Berrogüetto "Viaxe por Urticaria"
Label: Do Fol; DF-016-CD; Playing time: 47.07 min
Galicia, the most Northwestern part of Spain, has produced in the last years some of the most fascinating and interesting acts in the worldwide scene of folk and traditional music. Berrogüetto is one of the best exponents of these.
With their second album, 'Viaxe por Urticaria', Berrogüetto are making their way to become stars of Northern Spain. Their music is fresh and full of passion, they are finding a good way between traditional (sounding) music and modern influences. Most of the compositions are written by different members of the band, only two tracks are traditional. The group has found its very own characteristic sound.
Berrogüetto are the excellent instrumentalists Quim Farinha (fiddle), Santigo Cribeiro (Accordion, Keyboards), Guillermo Fernández (guitars), Quico Comesaña (bouzouki and celtic harp), Anxo Pintos (Galician bagpipes, sax, piano, fiddle, etc.) and Isaac Palacín (drums, percussion). Since recently, the band is completed by the female singer Guadi Galego, who has a strong characteristic voice with much Spanish temper and can play the gaita, the Spanish bagpipes as well.
This album with strong melodies and songs will sureley widen their fame as one of the most exciting bands of Northern Spain. With groups like Berrogüetto, the traditions of Galicia and Northern Spain are safe to survive the next millennium.
Alasdair Fraser & Tony McManus "Return to Kintail"
Label: Culburnie Records; CUL113D; Playing time: 52.29 min
Having waited for this album for quite a long time now, it is now finally out, and it was well worth waiting...
Alasdair Fraser and Tony McManus are quite a 'dream team', both known as exceptional masters on their instrument. Alasdair (fiddle, viola) has made during the last years quite an impression with his own band, the Skydance Band. He is maybe the best known and also best Scottish fiddler, playing with a lot of passion. Tony is one of the best guitarists in Europe, working with a huge number of different musicians and doing a lot of solo work. He has the ability to play everything on his guitar from tradtional (e.g. pipe tunes) to contemporary music. Tony is a master on the guitar and makes every music his own.
Together they are a stunning duo. They play sometimes beautifully slow and mellow,sometimes faster and more powerful. Both are leaving enough scope for one another; the guitar has not just a backing function for the fiddle but is often also in the centre of the music. If you have never heard them yet, you have missed a lot!
The cover photo of the CD is very scenic - a loch and some hills - maybe for the folk fan a bit too scenic. But without doubt, this cover will attract tourists to buy this album on their trip to Scotland, and they will get a highest quality album of magic Scottish music, far away from all the tourist clichés.
Jean-Michel Veillon "Er Pasker"
Label: Coop Breizh; CD 888; Playing time: 61.14 min
Jean-Michel Veillon hails from Brittany and plays the Wooden transverse flute. He is well known in the Celtic folk scene and he plays or has played in many of the most influential bands of Brittany.
For his new album 'Er Pasker', Jean-Michel has gathered an excellent bunch of musicians of the Breton scene and the British isles, including Alain Genty (bass), Jamie McMenemy (bouzouki), Jacky Molard (guitar, mandoline, violin), Soïg Siberil (guitar), and Ed Boyd (guitar) and John-Joe Kelly (bodhran) who are both members of the great British/Irish flute band FLOOK!. The tunes on this album are traditional and contemporary Breton tunes; many of them written by Jean Michel himself.
This is a lovely flute album, where the flute is always the centre of the music, but the overall impression is band-like. Extra points for the design of the box and the box itself - without any plastic...
Coop Breizh, mail to Jean Michel Veillon
Jonny Hardie & Gavin Marwick "The Blue Lamp"
Label: KRL/Lochshore; CDLDL 1287; Playing time: 54.03 min
Two top musicians of the Scottish scene teamed up for this album. Jonny Hardie plays fiddle, guitar, bouzouki and mandolin; he is best known as member of the 'Old Blind Dogs', an excellent Scottish band. Gavin Marwick is fiddler in the Scottish folk rock band 'Iron Horse'.
To create a fuller sound, they invited four guest musicians of the younger Scottish scene: Leo McCann (button accordion, of Corner House), Eamon Coyne (banjo, of Russels House), Andy Thorburn (piano, keyboards) and Aaron Jones (bouzouki, of Craobh Rua, ex Seelyhoo). All these musicians plus some more teamed up regularly in various combinations as 'Johnny Scoofer' at the 1999 Glasgow Celtic Connections Festival Club (starting around midnight and going through to the early hours). This was also the time when this album was recorded (January that is!).
The musicians are in excellent shape, the tunes are very catchy, and many are real earwigs. A fine album for any friend of traditional music from Scotland.
Ånon Egeland "Ånon"
Label: Grappa Musikkforlag; HCD 7136; Playing time: 48.38 min
Ånon Egeland is a multiinstrumentalist from Norway, and this is his first solo album. After being a musician for more than 20 years and seven albums with several duos and group projects, he has found the time for his first solo album. Ånon only gets some support by Mikael Marin on viola and Leiv Solberg on mandola and guitars, and many tunes are just Ånon on his own.
Ånon plays fiddle, the typical Norwegian hardanger fiddle, jew's harp, overtone flute, recorder and citar. He has gathered the material is from the rich traditions mainly of the Agder region of southern Norway.
Ånon regards himself first and foremost as hardanger fiddle and fiddle player. A huge part of this CD, containing 23 tracks, show his skills as fiddle/hardanger fiddle player, but he plays his other instruments as well. You can find four tunes played solo on jews harp, and some lovely flute tunes.
A very traddy album featuring some nearly forgotten tunes.
Label: Fono Astur; SA.CD.8767; Playing time: 49.04 min
North-Western Spain - many folk music lovers are thinking of Galicia at once, Asturies is sometimes a bit forgotten. But there are some great bands to explore here.
Felpeyu are a quite young band from Asturies. Their sound is traditional and acoustic, has a bit a celtic sound, but offers of course many pecularities.
They are creating a rich and full sound with box, gaita (Asturian bagpipe), percussion, fiddle, bouzouki, guitar, bass and vocals. The songs are very melodic and ballad style arranged , sang with soft voice and fine chorus harmonies. The tunes are from mellow sloe to firie srong (especially the pipe tunes). The ensemble play is wellmade, and often single instruments have the place to play a solo...
So if you like good celtic influenced music have a try wit Astuian music and listne to Felpeyu.
Fono Astur, mail to Xuan Nel Expósito Prado (piper of Felpeyu)
Label: D: Westpark Music; Europe: Xource Records; Playing time: 45.05 min Garmana are one of the premier Swedish bands. Their music is somewhere between Folk Hard Rock and Trad - depending on the title, and without doubt this is the right thing for both the folk and the rock music fan. Singer Emma Härdelin is the centre of the band; she sings with a pretty, young and naive voice beautiful medieval traditional songs about murder, abducted virgins, bad spells and - yes! - love. The four boys around her play hurdy gurdy, fiddle, guitars, bass and drums, completed by some programming. Sometimes it is heavy Swedish rock with folk influences, at other times it sounds quite traddy. Compared to former albums, the music has moved a bit more into fields of modern music, still the sound is mature has the typical Garmana sound. The overall feeling is dark Scandinavian music with its very own beauty, and it seems like their unique appeal have brought Garmana quite big audiences in their home country.
FolkWorld raffles two copies of Garmana's single "Gamen"featuring the Songs "Gamen" (The Vulture) and "Konung och Trollkvinnan" (The King and The Sorceress) as well as a live recorded video of "Gamen". Being a limited edition, this is a real collector's item! Click here for the competition!
D: Westpark Music; Europe: Xource Records
Plommon "Emma - Folk Music From Sweden"
Label: Akku Disc/Music Contact; ADCD3031; Playing time: 50.14 min
Five young girls from Sweden, aged from 16 upwards, playing traditional Swedish music just like the old "Spelmän" who carried the traditions to this century. The girls learnt their tunes and techniques from the old masters, and have today already a deep knowledge of their music traditions. Coming from Skåne in Southern Sweden, all five play the fiddle and sing, plus using other instruments. Plommon combines the three sisters Klara (harmonium, f, v), Frida (f, v, drum), and Sanna (f, v, viola) Rosén, Maria Persson (recorder, f, v, percussion) and Ingeborg Svenonius (f, v, clarinet). Most of all, the music of Plommon sounds very honest and true, just like being for these girls the most natural thing on earth to play traditional Swedish music. They play the Scandinavian tunes with a lot of charme and wit - in one song, "Kära Min Nya Computer", they sing the trad Skåne song "Kära min moder" backwards (based on the experience of playing a song with a computer backwards), another song contains the full recipe for a traditional Swedish meal. The traditional tunes and songs are completed by some pieces by the girls themselves. If you like traditional, natural yet fresh sounding Swedish music, this record is the one for you!
Released on the German Akku Disc label, the CD has a great cool looking design, giving a hint that Plommon are carrying the pure tradition into the next century. In Germany, Plommon have built up with their many highly enjoyable concerts quite a big fellowship - this CD will be of interest for all of their fans and friends.
Akku Disc/Music Contact
Añjel I.K. "Attitude Trad et Grooves explosivs"
Label: Coop Breizh; CD 883; Playing time: 16.39 min
The future has arrived in traditional Breton Gwerz singing - and it sounds great and fun! Añjel I.K. combine traditional music and singing with club samples, just like all the other fusion bands of these days - but in this case it works very well! Traditional singer Kristen Nikolas is a tremendous gwerz singer, and stays totally true to the tradition with his singing. This characteristic voice is surrounded by heavy modern grooves, a bass, a guitar and sometimes the traditional Breton combination of Biniou Kozh (the Breton pipes) and Bombarde. This short CD showcases only four songs of this eclectic mix; all four being traditional and in Breton language. All four have still the right speed and melody, making this modern music fully danceable in the trad Breton way.
This is an album which should not be missing at any modern folk party - this is grooving and happy and cool music. It makes you beg for more; fortunately the CD player has the "repeat" button - so the CD won't stop for the next few hours when it is in the player at your party!
With this Groov'Breizh you receive also a cotton-wool tip in the CD box...
Coop Breizh, Kerangwenn, F-29540 Spézet; France; Tel.+33-298-938314
Sherburn Bartley & Scott "Live at the Wharf"
Label: Sherbart Music; SMCD001; Playing time: 55.17 min
Sherbart - Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley - have their definite strength in their powerful and funny live performances, proved by the fact that they were awarded as FolkWorld's best live act 1998. So it has been just about time that a live album of this crazy duo comes around.
Well this is of course wrong, because this is NOT a duo album but a trio album. Chris and Denny are joined here by the young uillean piper Nick Scott; and this recording was made at one of the first few performances of the three together. What you will hear on this CD is an innovative and improvising, yet with much skill played concertina which is pressed and pulled by the Yorkshire lad Chris of the famous Sherburn family. Then traditionally played uillean pipes, and finally that rhythmic guitar playing of the Irish guy Denny Bartley. Concertina and Uillean Pipes together give surprisingly a very full and exciting traditional sound; and you can hear the freshness of this new pairing of musicians. To add another improvising flavour to the traditional tunes, you find of course also a few songs (like "Do with what you've got" or "Burning Times") sung by Denny Bartley in his unique style making all the well-known songs sound like totally new ones...
This album gives quite a good insight into a live night of the boys - although of course you can't press this sum of craziness and fun of three persons on one of these silver discs. And - of course - there is something missing on this recording: The bodhrán and the ever-lasting smile of Chris' sister Jane... But you can see all four together on several stages in near future!
Sherbart Music; E-mail Sherbart
Brian McNeill "To Answer the Peacock"
Label: Greentrax Recordings; CDTRAX170; playing time: 52.22 + 17.31 min
Here is another pure fiddle album of Brian McNeill, that talented Scottish fiddler who spent his life busking on the streets of Europe as well as playing on major stages first with the Battlefield Band, then on his own. Most of the tunes on this CD are written by Brian, and they are all masterpieces of Scottish folk music, full of beauty and traditional feeling. When I said above a "pure fiddle album", this does not mean that you can only hear a fiddle - Brian accompanies himself on other instruments (viola, guitar, mandolin, mandocello, bouzouki, keyboards). While the fiddle is always in the centre of the music and sometimes solo, the "Brian McNeill Band" adds excitement to some of the fiddle tunes.
Brian McNeill is not only a highly talented fiddler, songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist, but also a skilled author of novels. This album accompanies a novel with the same name (a full review will follow later in FolkWorld). As a special track, the CD ends with the first Chapter of Brian's novel "To Answer the Peacock", narrated by Brian himself. And also in this spoken track, the fiddle is in the centre of the piece: The hero of the story is a fiddling busker. This first chapter is a great appetizer to read the whole book. It would also be a perfect addition for English (as a foreign language) lessons at school - watch out for it, dear English teachers around the world!
Greentrax Recordings; Edinburgh Road, Cockenzie, East Lothian EH32 0HL, Scotland, E-mail; Tel: +44 1875814155 Fax: +44 1875813 545
Dublin to Dakar: A Celtic Odyssey (Various Artists)
Label: Putumayo; PUTU 147-2
What in the world is World Music? Does any music fail to qualify, I wonder:
like maybe bands from Mars or Alpha Centauri?! This compilation certainly
fits the miscellaneous category that has become world music, but with such
style that it shouldn't be by-passed by those unused to exotic sounds.
Blending Celtic traditions with music and rhythms from Africa (including an
enthralling duet between Alan Stivell and Youssou N'Dour); the
Mediterranean (a delightful Italian band with the cheeky name Modena City
Ramblers); Norway (a superbly evocative song from Rita Eriksen) and the
Caribbean (Ireland's Brigit Boden doing trad/reggae!).
Other highlights include England's Oyster Band, Afro-English band Baka
Beyond, Spain's Na Lua, as well as "genuine" Celts Capercaillie (Scotland),
and Aine Minogue (Ireland). In fact there are no lowlights on this
fascinating cross-over collection. If you're willing to add a bit of
adventure to your traditional music - maybe you like the work of Afro Celt
Sound System - or if you like world music that isn't afraid to cross
boundaries, you'll love this album.
Runrig "In Search of Angels"
Label: Ridge Records/Polygram; RR010
Runrig is a band of legendary status in their native Scotland, though
inexplicably they've struggled to make as big an impression elsewhere.
Think U2, Proclaimers or Oyster Band and you're in vaguely similar musical
territory. Runrig wears its Scottish pride on its sleeve, though not in
some naff "kilts & bagpipes" way. Rather their songs - many of them sung in
Scottish Gaelic - express the everyday feelings and concerns of Scots.
Strange then that their new lead singer, replacing Donny Munro - who left
to pursue a career as a Labour politician in Scotland - should be Canadian. But
fears that this move would weaken the band are allayed by this CD, the
first with Bruce Guthro on lead vocals. The album starts with two absolute
rippers: the upbeat "Maymorning", with jangling guitars and life-affirming
lyrics; and the throbbing "The Message", which counterpoints guitars,
percussion and bagpipes in an extraordinary way. It is up there with the
biggest of their anthem-like songs, a deft mixture of the personal and the
After this hot start the album slows down, and touches of twilit Celtic
melancholy creep in on songs like "Life Is" and "This Is Not A Love Song".
Yet the overall upbeat approach, reflective perhaps of the political and
social resurgence in Scotland, soon takes over again. It's not as if they
are merely jumping on the nationalist bandwagon either. Songwriting
brothers Calum and Rory Macdonald have been working towards these days for
over 25 years. It's no wonder Scotland's buoyant national mood flavours the
whole work. This is a work of stature and maturity from some of Scotland's
Gaelic Women "Ar Cànan 'S Ar Ceòl (Our Language and Our Music)"
Label: Greentrax Recordings; CDTRAX172; playing time: 58.15 min
This album is a labour of love presenting the beauty of Gaelic song in a unique collection of songs. This is not a CD sampler and features only highest quality recordings with highest quality sleeve notes. Having been some three years in the making, the project features 14 original recordings of some of the best female Gaelic singers from Scotland. Each singer contributes a song of her particular choice; all the songs together demonstrate a diversity of approach and style of the rich Gaelic traditions.
The involved singers include old established Gaelic singers, who have carried the old traditional way of singing into today's life, as well as the new generation of singers that will carry the traditions into the next generations. Involved are among others Flora MacNeil, Magaret Stewart, Capercaillie's Karen Matheson, the young beautiful voices of Anna Murray and the trio MacKenzie, Mairi MacInnes, Catherine-Ann Mac Phee to name just a few. Instrumental backings provide also some of Scotland's best - Tony McManus (guitar), Malcolm Jones (guitars, accordeon), Allan MacDonald (pipes), William Jackson (hars, whistles), Donald Shaw (keyboards) etc.
The songs are either traditional or composed by the great bards of the last centuries. They carry the beauty and fascination of this old language and culture, with all the singers having the ability to bring out the full spirit of the songs. The CD has its big finale when in title 14 all women come together to sing Cana Nan Gaidheal, the anthem for the Gaelic language.
Accompanying the CD is a big booklet with song lyrics and information on both the songs and the singers, all bilingual in Gaelci and English. This is a terrific album giving a fascinating insight into the scene of Gaelic female singers. Ian Green's efforts for this album have proved well worth; it is a fully perfect album.
Greentrax Recordings; Edinburgh Road, Cockenzie, East Lothian EH32 0HL, Scotland, E-mail; Tel: +44 1875814155 Fax: +44 1875813 545
Afro Celt Sound System "Volume 2: Release"
Label: Virgin Records/Realworld; CDRW76; Playing time: 64.03 min
The Afro Celts are back with their second CD. Since their debut album, Volume 1: Sound Magic, the Afro Celts have built up a reputation also in the popular music scene. While Volume 1 was just a project, the Afro Celts are now with Volume 2 transformed into a "cohesive band with a unique sound and style".
Volume 2 offers once again a unique fusion of traditional Irish-Gaelic and African elements with modern club music. On the clubby side of things, the Afro Celts feature Simon Emmerson (programming, keyboards, guitar) and Martin Russell (programming, keyboards, engineering), on the more traditional side the Irish Sean Nos singer Iarla O'Lionaird, James McNally on whistles, bodhran, accordeon and keyboards, the Africans N'Faly Kouyate (vocals, kora, balafon) and Moussa Sissokho (talking drums, Djembe), and the Celtic harpist Myrdhin.
The highlights of this album are when the guesting uillean pipers Ronan Browne or Michael McGoldrick add to the music the sweet sounds of the Irish pipes - the pipes work perfectly in a very modern and clubby arrangement. On the album you will find Gaelic and African songs as well as instrumentals, all composed by band members. Compared to the debut album, Volume 2 has less techno music on offer.
All in all, this is an exciting release. Some of the pieces are superb, especially those combing Uillean Pipes with club music. Still, for my taste, this album as a whole has maybe a too strong esoteric edge, and cannot match with a live appearance of the band.
To the Afro Celts Homepage
To the first CD page
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To the content of FolkWorld online magazine Nr. 10
© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 07/99
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