Issue 8 2/99
FolkWorld CD Reviews
"Endless Songs from Bhutan"
Label: Grappa / Heilo; HCD 7143; 16 Tracks;
Playing Time: 55.24 min
Jigme Drukpa is a Bhutanese musician who currently lives in Norway, where he
is studying for a degree in ethnomusicology at the University of Bergen. He
plays a range of traditional Bhutanese instruments, the dra-nyen (Bhutanese
lute), yangshin (Asian hammered dulcimer), dong lim and zur lim (flutes) and
kong-tha (bamboo mouth harp), and sings in the two distinctive styles of
Bhutanese secular music, zhung-dra and bö-dra. With this album (the
first-ever release of Bhutanese music on CD), he takes the opportunity of
introducing this music, rarely heard outside Bhutan, to the wider world.
Bhutan has never been colonised nor occupied another country throughout its
history, which means it was able to develop a fairly unique musical
tradition without assimilating outside influences to any great extent. Much
of the music is somewhat similar to Tuvanese / Mongolian throat singing with
its long notes and lute accompaniments. The tunes featuring dong lim or zur
lim, on the other hand, remind me of Native American flute music. To Western
ears, it certainly all sounds very exotic and evocative of wild, lonely
landscapes. The press release accurately describes it as "meditative and
soothing". It takes a bit of getting into, but it is rather beautiful once
Label: Wild Boar Music; WBM21001; Playing time: 44.21 min
Fluxus is - besides Laïs and Ambrozijn - one of the three Belgian bands giving currently a new coolish touch to Flemish Folk Music. It looks like Fluxus are a family band, with three of five members having the same surname. The young musicians play on a broad range of instruments - diatonic accordeon, hurdy gurdy/guitar, Flemish bagpipes/Shawm/Recorder, Saxophone and percussion/djembe. The music is full of diverse influences, the most obvious being maybe Medieval, Flemish Folk and traces of Jazz. All twelve tunes on this CD are composed by band members; most of them by the girl in the band, accordeonist Greet Garriau. The music is inspiring, sometimes wild and energetic, somtimes beautifully quiet, but always melodic and enjoyable. Sometimes the Flemish pipes are in the centre of the music, then the accordeon or the sax - it is a good, varied mixture.
And it's not just that these Flemish guys know to compose folk music, they show also humour in calling the tunes - have you guessed what the CD's name means? Well it's not that difficult: A Pingoeroe is a cross between a penguin and a kangaroo, of course!
The Chieftains & Guests "Tears of Stone"
Label: BMG/RCA Victor; 09026 68968 2; Playing time: 68.43 min This is once again a Chieftains theme album where Paddy Moloney has lived out his passions. Paddy's goal was "to marry the many faceted voices of contemporary women artists from around the world with the simple beauty of traditional Irish Music". And - what else would you think - of course he has brought together a selection of the world's best known female singers to join the Chieftains for a song. His guests include Joni Mitchell, The Corrs, Bonnie Raitt, Sinead O Connor, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Joan Osborne, Loreena McKennit and quite a few more.
As often with such collaborations between traditional and pop musicians, some of the songs are stunning, while others do not work too well. My personal highlights of this CD are the angel-like "Jimmy Mó Mhíle Stór" with the Rankins, "I know my love" sang by The Corrs and "Factory Girl" with Sinead O Connor. The most special song, meanwhile, is "Sake in the Jar", a song in Japaneese language, with the Japaneese singer Akiko Yano. There is also one set of tunes on the album, with four international Fiddling Ladies: Annbjørg Lien from Norway, Máire Breatnach from Ireland, Natalie MacMaster from Cape Breton and Eileen Ivers from the States.
And still, it's always a pleasure to hear all these famous pop-or-whatever-else singers singing a good old Irish traditional love song, accompanied by the sweet sound of the Chieftains...
Label: Veesik Records; VKCD102; Playing time: 46.02 min
Colin Reid is the latest folk guitar wonder that comes from the Irish/British scene. His skills are stunning, his fingers fly over the guitar, and listening to him, you sometimes wonder how many guitarists are playing - but it's always just him! Colin has a lot of influences, from blues, jazz and country to classical, but altogether it's a folky sound that comes out of his acoustic guitar.
Hailing from Belfast, Colin has performed and recorded recently with the likes of Niamh Parsons & the Loose Conncections, Brian Kennedy and Peter Corry. His debut album has been produced by Scotland's most sought-after guitarist, Tony McManus, and Tony has done a good job. Colin has imaginatively composed 12 of the 15 guitar tunes; and his playing on this album is excellent. The album is a sure confirmation that Colin ist quickly mounting up the ladder to join the likes of his album producer seen today as the world's best folk guitar players.
This album was launched before Colin's show at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall at Celtic Connections, supporting the John Cale Trio. Late Danny Kyle was the one who made this gig and his break-through in Scotland possible - last year, he invited Colin several times back to Danny Kyle's Open Stage and to the Festival Club. Well it's been often enough to convince the Festival to give him this year a major spot...
e-mail Veesik Records
Bill Dettmer "Live at theBeaches of Mornington - hermoso es!"
Label: Own; BS42CD; Playing time: 62.39 min
At home not only in the folk music circuit, Bill Dettmer is an Australian singer/songwriter and guitarist. Still, most of the songs on this album might still be called folk music, completed by a couple of Blues/Country/Rock songs with his band.
Bill writes songs describing aspects of life, the songs mostly have strong lyrics with sometimes good hooklines. His guitar playing is in his solo songs used effectively. The solo pieces are enjoyable listening; the ones with the band actually as well, but the stylistic difference between both is probably too big. Maybe it would have been better to make two different albums, one with band and one without.
Anyway, it's not bad. Bill, btw., is also the Artistic Director of a major Guitar Festival in Australia, in Frankston Vic....
e-mail Bill Dettmer
Ivan Drever & Duncan Chisholm "The Lewis Blue"
Label: Lismor/Iona; IRCD062; Playing time: 39.48 min
Ivan Drever & Duncan Chisholm are one of the best and experienced duos from Scotland. Both are better known for their contributions for the Scottish folk rock band Wolfstone - Ivan has been until recently the lead singer, main composer and guitarist of the Wolfies, while Duncan is still with Wolfstone as their fiddler. With this album, they give a strong and convincing evidence that they do not need a rock band around them to play fresh and sometimes also wild music.
The duo is joined on this album by famed Scottish folk musician Phil Cunningham on keyboards, whistle, accordion and mandolin, and by Brian McNeill sequencing and engineering the album. These two guests only add a subtle accompaniement to the rich sound of the duo. About half of the pieces on this album are composed by Ivan Drever, three of them being beautiful, warm songs ("Warm Embrace", "Battle of Falkirk", "Snowdrops in the Rain"). The tunes vary between beautifully slow guitar or guitar/fiddle tunes and energetic, wolfstonesque reels.
A mature work full of quality, that lets you look forward to more stuff like this!
Label: Wildboar Music; WBM 21005; Playing time: 41.42 min
Three pretty girls on the cover of this CD from Belgium; professional and very appealing layout and photos in the booklet - already a good start for an album from the reviewer's point of view. But this album has a lot more to offer. The voices of the three girls of Laïs (Jorunn Bauweaerts, Nathalie Delcroix, Annelies Brosens) are exceptional. Sometimes the songs are sweet and mellow, and the sound makes you think of music from angels. Other songs are more powerful, with the voices being strong and energetic. The harmony singing is always just magic, I have seldom heard only three voices creating so diverse, but always beautiful music.
Most of the songs are traditional Flemish (in Flemish language), completed by a traditional Italian and a trad Swedish song, a French song of Jacques Brel, an English song composed by Sinead O'Connor and finally a Scottish ballad translated into Flemish. Some songs are unaccompanied with just lovely harmony singing, the other songs are backed by the excellent musicians of Belgian band Kadril. The instruments of Kadril include guitar, fiddle, dulcimer, bagpipe, hurdy gurdy, but also bass, e-guitar, drums and percussion. So the backing sounds sometimes traditional with emphasis on the voices, sometimes there is a howling powerful folk rocky sound - all suiting very well to the three outstanding voices.
The last track on the CD does not appear in the booklet, the sound is quite interesting and fascinating - it sounds as if they have recorded a song in the wrong direction. This track finishes an extremely promising CD that leaves you thinking about the secrets of this girls from Belgium...
ErrisLannan "All about [:TIME]"
Label: Raumer Records; RR 13198; Playing time: 47.01 min
A quartet playing Irish music with much love and passion for the music - ErrisLannan's music is pure and not mixed with other styles or influences.
The band consists of Birmingham born Brendan Boyle - whose parents come from Co. Fermanagh and Co. Tyrone - on button accordion, Bedford (England) born Mick Conneely - his father was born Co. Galway - on fiddle, London born Adrian Burns - whose parents come from Co. Mayo, on guitar and vocals and Danish bodhran player Svend Kjeldsen.
The sound of fiddle and box playing together is very tight, and the backing of 'rhythm section' bodhran and guitar is moving the tunes in the right direction. The beautiful jigs, reels, airs, polkas and hornpipes are completed by three songs sung by Adrian. Adrian has a fine voice singing on this album better known ballads (Carrickfergus, Ewan MacColl's Schooldays Over and The Water is Wide).
The lads have taken the interesting sounding name of this band, ErrisLannan, from the birthplace of Mick's father in Connemara. ErrisLannan is a very good traditional Irish music band, and they have made with All About Time a fine album. For lovers of the pure tradition of Ireland this is a hidden secret.
Raumer Records; Tel./Fax + 49 (0)30442 7967, e-mail: Svend Kjeldsen
Label: own label; Playing time: 10.47 min
This is the first recording (actually a single) of new Danish group Serras. Serras is combing talented musicians of different other well known Danish bands like Sorten Muld, DUG, Puls, etc.
They are creating on this recording a very moody (instrumental) sound with lots of different influences ranging from Danish traditions to rock, jazz and modern music. The melody instruments are fiddle and saxophone (and sometimes e-guitar), and while the combination of these two instruments is unusual, it still works very well. Backed are fiddle and sax by (e-)guitar, bass and drums. This small bit of music leave you wanting more in a full album.
Booking: Svend KjeldsenTel./ Fax + 45 8618 5303, e-mail
Label: own label; NIXCD 06; Playing time: 45.59 min
Phønix is an inspiring young Danish band playing mainly self composed instrumental music based on traditional music.
Phønix are the sisters Katja Mikkelsen (recorder, fiddle,bagpipe) and Anja Præst Mikkelsen (bass clarinet,clarinet), Kristine Heebøll (fddle, caxixi) and Jesper Vinther Peterson (harmonika); guest musician Jesper Falch adds some percussion. he music is always special, sometimes mellow and often grooving, with especially the bass clarinet making a really groovy sound. The exciting combination of instruments is always adding the right balance to the sound.
A group you can listen to for hours...
Booking: Svend KjeldsenTel./ Fax + 45 8618 5303, e-mail
Deborah Henson-Conant "The Celtic Album"
Label: Laika; 3510102.2; Playing time: 50.39 min
This American lady is well known for her improvisation and her jazzy rocky harp playing style. This time she has paid tribute to her passion for celtic music. You find on this album pure harp music, just sometimes a bit of synth and keyboard and once the flute of Peter Barnes. Deborah plays mostly traditional celtic tunes in a relatively traddy style but still not without adding some improvisation and a jazzy feeling to these partly well-known (instrumental versions of) songs and tunes .
The music ranges from 'The Masons Apron' and 'Planxty Irvine' over 'Loch Lomond' and 'My love is like a red red rose' to 'The drunken sailor'.
The versions are interesting and sometimes unusual; mostly it is quiet music for some nice hours to relax.
Deborah will be on tour in Germany in March. Don't forget that she is an exceptional harpist.
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