Released by Deserted Village who have no contact with the artists, this album is an enigma. It documents travels by a UK folk band around the UK, northern France, Channel Islands and the isles and captures their performances in both English and Gaelic.
It's a highly traditional sounding release but one with a feeling of strangeness running through it's heart as all the best folk music does. There is a feeling of authenticity, of getting back to the music's source, of pretence stripped away. Those searching for lost music that carries on their enjoyment of The Wicker Man soundtrack would do well to look here, the same feeling of strangeness and innocence rises amongst the songs.
'In Aimsir Bhaint an Fheir' introduces banjo and guitar supporting a heady baritone male vocal singing in Gaelic. A Gaelic pipe or possibly flute adds counter melody over the top and gradually accordion is woven in. It's already a magical concoction, enticing and vibrant in its mixture of old and new. As more countermelodies are added on piano and guitar, it swells to become a beautiful and moving ode. This gives way to a communal non-accompanied version of the traditional song 'Spencer the Rover' and then into 'La Bon Marain', a deeply evocative folk ballad starting with sultry flute and guitar. This song has excellent female harmony vocals over the male baritone lead that further enhances the atmosphere.
'The Blackthorn Tree' is a banjo and massed vocal song before the unaccompanied vocal of 'Twa Corbies'. 'Is Lomaidh Coisceim Fads' is another Gaelic ballad with haunting siren harmony vocals. As you listen, you feel some connection to something unknown is being made; it's a haunting listen. 'Sweet Thames Flow Softly' is a song in the round of vocals and sounds like a hundred years old field recording. Peter Ackroyd, the author would adore this seemingly magical invocation of the river's powers in support of love.
Last song 'Time To Go Home' comes too soon and sounds the most conventional of them all at first, although of course this is relatively. Here the sound is like a forgotten seventies soundtrack, the group are together, massed male and female vocals, horns calling, whip rhythms, hand drums, swirling fiddles, nature animals. It moves from delicate ballad to ritual incantation in thirty seconds and ends the album on a somewhat unsettling note.
This is wonderful, important music, the kind we established this site for. It's very inexpensive and absolutely essential for fans of the genre.