Issue 19 8/2001

FolkWorld CD Reviews



Danças Ocultas "ar"
Label: EMI; 7243 4 95172 2 6; 1998; Playing time: 48.27min
Danças Ocultas has a quite unusual line up: all four musicians just play the diatonic accordeon (this instrument is called in Portugal, where they come from, Concertina - so if you get the chance to see them live, they might be announced as four concertina players...). Their music is exceptional - I had the great opportunity to see them live at Tilburg International Festival in january 2001, as soon as I entered the hall where they where playing, I was immediately stuck by their music. Their interaction is very intense - and they had no problems to show this on CD.
The music they are playing on this album is all written and arranged by members of the band - they often do play together, but they leave the space for solos of the musicians. For more information on this great Portugues band, read the interview in this issue!
Management: O Acaso
Christian Moll

Sans Souci "J'ai fait un reve"
Label: own label; 001TV, 2000
Sans Souci come - as you maybe think - from France. Sans Souci are a group of three musicians - Georges Travert (vocals, percussion, dulcimer, psalterion, guitar), Gerard Viel (vocals, guitar, mandoline, epinette des Flandres, hurdy gurdy) and Christophe Mahé (guitar, diatonic accordeon) - their music is focussed on songs. Their repertoir is mostly traditional and comes mostly from France and Quebec. They are getting their inspiration (and sometimes their song material) from bands musicians as Marc Robine (or better said from his fine anthopology of the french chanson), Gabriel Yacoub and Barachois. The band without worries creates a nice laid back atmosphere. They sing nice harmonies and are backing the songs in a manner to underline the atmosphere.
If you want to listen to nice old fasioned folk music from France Sans Souci are an excellent choice...
And if you are even interested in getting this group into your folkclub (town) do not hesitate to contact them - you will enjoy their music.
mail to Sans Souci, Tel.; Association 'Sans Souci'; 13 Hameau St Hubert, 50480 Foucarville
Christian Moll

Frei Fado D'el Rei "encanto da lua"
Label: Sony Musica (Portugal); COL 4913302; 1998
Fado is the best known music from Portugal - and yes, this is a Portugues band - but there music is much more than 'traditional Fado'. Frei Fado d'el Rei are six young musicians from Porto - one of the most interesting towns in Europe...
Fado is the centerpiece of their music, but they have many influences for example classical music and music from other parts of the mediteranean regions. Their instrumentarium is: classical guitar, drums and percussion instruments (including adufe and pandeireta), acoustic bass, bandolocello, Programming, sampling and keyboard and of course the voice. Frei Fado d'el Rei are an intresting band from southern Europe.
Christian Moll

Troissoeur "Trah Nijm"
Label: EMI Belgium/ ZOKU; 07243 826 585 28; 2000; Playing time: 46.05 min
Belgium is boosting at the moment with exceptional, very interesting young bands playing their very own music. It is - in my opinion - maybe the most interesting place for new folk music in Europe right now.
Troissoeur - "three sisters" - is a young quartett consisting of three brothers Vanvinckenroye - Edwin (violin, vocals), Joris (double bass, vocals), Rein (accordion, guitar, vocals) - and Pieter Thys (19 string double-neck guitar, mandoline, guitar-percussion). Their music is unconventional and very fresh, their sound is often a bit whired, but always very exciting. They invented an own language - often the words are sung backwards (like the titel of their album: trah nijm - mijn hart = my heart), this creates an anachaic sound. The way they sing it is very exact and it reminds me sometimes somehow on songs in Finnish language...
It is a great band - go and listen to them, and dive into the world of new folk music of Belgium!
Troisseur's homepage
Christian Moll

Phamie Gow "Winged Spirit"
Label: Wildfire Records; Gow001; 1999
Phamie Gow is a young, very talented Scottish harpist and singer. She just turned to become a full time musician, formed a band and has a recording deal with Scotlands best reputed record label (Greentrax) - so her future looks very exciting. This album is her first solo record, published in 1999. In 1999 another big step for her career as a musician happened: She won a 'Danny' at Celtic Connection's Danny Kyle's open stage in Glasgow. This open stage is a place where young and starting musicians have the space to play in front of a quite big audiance - the best ones get at the end of the festival the Danny award.
Coming back to Phamie and her music, besides being an excellent harpist and singer, she also composes most of the tunes that she is playing, and writes the lyrics of the songs - and is doing a very good job at it. I am sure that some parts of her work will find its way into the repertoire of other musicians. Only two of the tracks on the album are songs, of both the lyrics are written by Phamie. One of them is in English language, the other in Gaelic. Only few of the tunes on the album are traditional - and they are well interpretated as well.
The whole album is a 'one man show' (or to be more precicely a one woman show) - Phamie plays all of the music herself on the following instruments: Clarsach (Scottish harp), vocals, accordion, whistles, bowed harp, piano and keyboard. A fine album of a new raising star of the Scottish scene!
email Phamie Gow
Christian Moll

Strobinell "tre de milved"
Label: own Label; Strob04; 2000
Strobinell is a young innovative quintett from Brittany in France - they do also play as an acoustic trio. Most of their music sounds as being based on traditional material, but most is self written by different members of the band (along to also some traditional material). The arrangements are interesting and very exciting - as I first heard the first track of this album (andro du 3ème millénaíre) I thought - WOW what a band...
Most band members have nice, very Breton sounding names: Riwall Ar Menn (vocals, aciustic guitar); Patrig Ar Balch (vocals, bombardes, flutes, tin & low whistles); Yann Herri Ar Gwicher (flutes, tin & low whistles, biniou kohz - the breton bagpipe); Phillippe Turbin (piano, synth., piano accodeon); Gurvan Mével ( drums, percussion, octapad). Some guests are contributing some more sounds: Ronan Pinc (vionlin); Christophe Leynaud (saxophone) and four girls (Bleunwenn Mével, Cathy Prido, Sylvie Turbin and Solange Louais) and a breathtaking soundscape background choir.
An album full of exciting moments - it would have been in my personal top ten of 2000 - if it had arrived in time for it! Looking forward to the next work of Strobinell.
Strobinell's homepage , Tel.+33 (0)296610128; Fax +33 (0)662054456
Christian Moll

Urban Trad "one o four"
Label: Universal Music / Mercury Records; 159 256-2; 2000
Urban Trad is another proof that Belgium - in the heart of Europe - is at the moment maybe the heart of innovative young European folk music. Urban Trad is a project of the young composer Yves Barbieux. He creates a sound rooted in traditional music from Europe (mostly the 'celtic regions' Ireland, Scotland, Galicia...) - but the music comes from urban regions and goes further than the traditions. It is a hot music melange, and although it has many influences from modern forms of music, it has a lot to offer to fans of traddy music.
Yves is the composer, and he has gathered many musicians from the top of the scene in Belgium: Thom Theuns (Ambrozijn) on guitar, three girls from the excellent Belgium based Galician folk choir Ialma, Michael Horgan (uilleann pipes) of Shantalla, Raquel Gigot (accordions) and Rudy Velghe (nyckelharpa, violin, mandolin) of Orion, Luc Pilartz (violin, bagpipe), Nicolas Vandooren (programming, keys, vocals, electric guitar, soprano sax), etc. Yves himself plays whistles, recordes, bagpipe, keys.
The album is very exciting - I am really looking forward to see them live!
Urban Trad's homepage
Christian Moll

Midnight Court "Ring the bell... run like hell"
Label: Magnetic Music; MMR CD 1031; 2001; Playing time: 51.44 min
The third album from Irish/German trio Midnight Court offers a mixture of Irish traditional and contemporary songs and tunes, for the most part sensitively arranged and competently played. The addition of drums on a couple of tracks is an experiment which on the whole fails - they are at best ignorable, at worst horrendously intrusive (on the cover version of Gillian Welch's "Caleb Meyer").
A particularly successful guest contribution, by contrast, is the piano on singer Aaron Shirlow's lament for the Omagh bomb victims. Another useful guest is Brian O'Connor with his contributions on flute and whistles adding to the basic mix of fiddle, button box/mandolin and guitar.
Not an outstanding Irish album perhaps, but perfectly enjoyable.
Midnight Court
Anja Beinroth

Aysar Capys "The Sikilos' Epitaph EP"
Label: Musicisti Associati Produzioni; L CD 3002; 2001; Playing time: 16.25 min
It seemed strange to be given a Folkworld review CD which includes a cover version of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" - hardly a folk song and not played like one here. But this 4-track EP is a weird beast in more ways than that. It's hard to imagine where this lot get their influences from. The four tracks include assorted speech samples (in various languages), indie rock arrangements, medieval tunes and folk instruments in varying mixes. The most folksy is the third track, which turns a medieval estampie tune into an e-ska-mpie. One for curiosity-gatherers, I think.
Aysar Capys website
Anja Beinroth

Forrester "All The Wrong Things"
Label: twah!; twah! 117 / EFA 61117-2; 2001; Playing time: 61.40 min
John Forrester is the man behind the totally gorgeous love song "You're All I See" on the debut album by Reading's folkrockers Pressgang (which he was then a member of). On the evidence of this solo album, things must have taken a serious turn for the worse in his love life since then, because practically all the songs here (all his own compositions) are nursing-a-broken-heart songs.
This isn't a simple singer-songwriter album; the songs here have lavish arrangements with a full rock band and guest musicians (including a couple from Pressgang). Some of the guests play "folk" instruments: accordion, uillean pipes, hammered dulcimer. Several songs also feature the Mayfair String Quartet to good effect.
And is it folk music? Hardly. But if you like rock/pop music with decent melodies and meaning, it may be for you.
Forrester website
Anja Beinroth

Nakaira "Musiche a Danzare tra Oriente e Occidente"
Label: Musicisti Associati Produzioni; E.Med CD 50113; 2000; Playing time: 46.45 min
Nakaira is an Italian quartet at home in a variety of musical genres - none of which seems to be Italian, as far as I can tell (sleeve notes are in Italian only). Most of the CD was recorded live, although you wouldn't know it - the audience is barely audible, and the sound quality and mix up to studio standards.
The music is purely instrumental and led by violinist Antonio Curiale, who is equally comfortable with Celtic jigs and reels as with Eastern European tunes. He is accompanied by Angelo Liotta on bouzouki/guitar/mandola, double bassist Vincenzo Virgillito and percussionist Fulvio Farkas; and a guest musician, Carmelo Salemi, adds some lovely nuances to the mix with various wind instruments, notably clarinette. The tunes are partly original compositions, partly traditional (of which one is, wrongly, attributed to Turlough Carolan) from Bulgaria, Ireland, Scotland, Spain and Israel.
This is one of those relatively rare instrumental albums which has enough variety to offer that you never miss a singer.
Musicisti Associati Produzioni M.A.P., Via Monte San Genesia 4, 20158 Milano; Tel. +39 02 6880950 or +39 02 69005757; Fax +39 02 66801735.
Anja Beinroth

The Ukrainians "Drink to my Horse - Live"
Label: Zirka; ZRKCD 1; 2000 (1989- 1994); Playing time: 72.24 min
I must admit to a soft spot for the Ukrainians, ever since I heard one of those legendary Wedding Present Ukrainian sessions on John Peel's BBC Radio 1 programme. They had it all - brilliant tunes (from the Ukrainian tradition, obviously), a unique-sounding singer, boundless energy.
This generous collection of live material is a kind of career retrospective, starting with those early Wedding Present days through numerous tours of Europe up to 1994. Recorded in classic bootleg style "from the sound desk", here's 19 of their best songs and tunes, including two of their brilliant adaptations of songs from English indie stars The Smiths and two versions of "Davni Chasy": an early one from the Wedding Present and a late one from the Cooking Vinyl package tour of Germany in 1994, with the other parts of the package, Oysterband and Rev Hammer, guesting.
This works well both as a "best of" album and as a memento of their vibrant live performances.
Ukrainians website
Anja Beinroth

Ulrika Bodén "Vålje Å Vrake - Visor och låtor från Ångermanland"
Label: Drone Music; DROCD024; 2001; Playing time: 46.27 min
Ångermanland is a region in Northern Sweden, edging at the Gulf of Bothnia. It is the home of singer Ulrika Bodén, known from Ranarim, Rosenbergs Sjua etc., and as up to now this region is not too known for its songs and tunes, it was an obvious challenge for her to record an album with music only from her home county. Ulrika's main inspiration and source for songs was Ester Isaksson, a relative of the famous singer Karin Sikström. On the album, several songs feature just Ulrika's charming, warm voice, while on others she is joined by her talented musical friends of Ranarim, Jens Engelbrecht on guitar and Niklas Roswall on Nyckelharpa, added at times by Anders Norudde on diverse instruments, especially the Härjedalspipa (Swedish bagpipes sounding similar to Northumbrian Pipes). To round up the album, some tunes from that region give some more variety. The booklet is made with a lot of love, featuring song texts, background infos (most of them only in Swedish though) and nice winter photos. A good album, as you could expect of one of the most beautiful voices of the young folk scene in Sweden.
Drone Music
Michael Moll

Mats Edén "Avtryck"
Label: Amigo; AMCD746; 2001; Playing time: 59.14 min
Mats Edén is internationally known as the only remaining original member of Groupa, one of Sweden's most avantgardistic folk bands. Although he plays in Groupa mainly the fiddle, he is also a master on the accordeon. This album is dedicated to Swedish accordeon tunes, something which has been for a long time very unfashionable in Sweden's folk music circles. Mats became Sweden's first "riksspelman" on the accordeon in 1979. On "Avtryck", Mats plays 27 tunes from Värmland and other parts of Sweden, most of them on the accordeon (melodeon or double-row accordeon), along with a couple of tunes on the fiddle. It is a real solo album, featuring only Mats, only on either accordeon or fiddle. I am sure that this album will be an inspiration for many accordeon players.
Michael Moll

Fareld "Demo-CD"
Label: Own; Playing time: 16.10 min
Normally FolkWorld would not review a demo-CD; the exception is only made in the case of special, exciting newer bands that deserve attention.Fareld is such a band. Coming from Malmö in Southern Sweden, Fareld combine Scandinavian folk music with rock and jazz in a very attractive way. The musicians have their background in diverse music genres, the band features sax/didgridoo, 2 fiddles, drums, percussion, bass and guitar. Singer Anna Elwing, since recelty also member in Plommon, adds her enjoyable voice to the Fareld sound. This is experimental New Folk music, with its own destinctive sound. Hopefully they come up soon with a full-length album.
Anybody who wants to see (or also book) them, might check them out during their short western and central European tour this autumn 2001.
Fareld's website
Michael Moll

Gjallarhorn "Sjofn"
Label: Own; RANARCD-1; 2000; Playing time: 52.02 min
Gjallarhorn come from the Swedish speaking part of Finland. In their music, they combine destinctive Finno-Swedish and Finnish traditions with a world music design. The Scandinavian traditions are reflected in Jenny Wilhelms, the wonderful singer, fiddler and hardangerfiddler, and Christopher Öhman on fiddle (also vocals, mandola and kalimba). Tommy Mansikka-Aho on didgeridoo, slideridoo, Jew's Harp, djembe, udu and David Lillkvest diverse percussion instruments from all over the world transform the Scandinavian base into world/ethnic music. Most of the songs featured on "Sjofn" are traditional, or have a folk music back ground, and are in Swedish language. "Sjofn" offers many different facettes and many interesting and unusual arrangements, it is indeed Scandinavian World Music. I have to admit, I found it at times too "tribal"...
Gjallarhorn's homepage
Michael Moll

Battlefield Band "Happy Daze"
Label: Temple Records; COMCD2085; 2001
This album is dedicated to Davy Steele, former singer of the band, who tragically died of cancer in April. It is the first Battlefield Band album with the new singer Karine Polwart, who came in as a replacement for Davy last summer. At the same time it is the last album with the band's long time fiddler, John McCusker, who has just left the band (see FolkWorld news).
"Happy Daze" is in my opinion another highlight of the more than three decades long Battlefield Band history. The overall impression is freshness and quality, pleasant songs, powerful and beautiful tunes. Karine adds a new dimension to the Batties sound, the band making the most of having now the variety of a male and a female singer. Some songs feature both Karines and Alan Reid's voices, making up a very nice blend. And there are self written songs by both of the singers; Karine's writing being already highly advanced. On the tunes side, piper/flautist Mike Katz and fiddler John McCusker shine, as we are used to.
This line-up has been only a short episode of the Battlefield Band story, yet it has been a very strong one. The album should be in every Batties CD collection, while we can wait now curiously what the new young fiddler will bring to the Battie sound. One thing at least is more than obvious: Although the line-up has been changing quite significantly during the last few years, the Battlefield Band seems to stay alive for a long time, developing its distinctive sound further.
Battlefield Band website
Michael Moll

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