Issue 29 09/2004

FolkWorld CD Reviews (7)

Plommon, photo by The Mollis
Plommon, photo by The Mollis

Hepa halme prespekt "Nine steps in line of beauty"
Label: Silence slco013 2001
Silence, one of the most interesting labels in Scandinavian music history. They have been issued so many great and weird lp's and cd's from which many I often find on my recordplayer or in my cd player. Now a new cd from Hepa Halma who is a flute player who has been in the Finnish music world for many years. He played in several bands from Punk to free improvisation. Together with musicians on programming, guitar, percussion and piano, Halma recorded his first solo cd which contains nine steps of variations, improvisations and meditations. It is beautiful, sensitive music with introvert flute playing. With some jazz, Indian and far-east influences this cd really brings rest. It has subtle changes of rhythms and melodies and it has a direct influence on my state of mind. With much more musical quality than many of the mass meditation cd's, this cd does not only give rest but is also a musical pleasure for the ear. Done by skilled and professional musicians who know what they are doing and do that very well.
Eelco Schilder

Paul Seitz "Only the beginning"
Label: Private record 2003
Singer-songwriter Paul Seitz comes from Texas and collected on this cd his self-penned songs written between 1980 and 2003. With help from his wife on backing vocals, Matt Ling on mandolin and Margareth Ling on violin he recorded ten friendly songs and one instrumental bonustrack. It's singer-songwriter music pure sang. Nice guitar works and his vocals sound fine, although a bit forced at occasion. With some singer-songwriters it's the problem that the lyrics are very personal what makes them hard to understand when you live on the other side of the planet not knowing anything about the situation the artist lives in. I have that a bit with this cd, it's a very personal album with nice small love songs and even a childrenssong which is one of the strongest compositions on this cd. I have to compliment the harmony vocals by Kelleen seitz. When this couple sings together, the music doubles in emotion and quality. Fantastic example is warm evening dreams, one of the strongest songs. Pure guitar works and vocals. A nice personal cd brought straight from the musicians heart. That is great, but also makes it a bit hard sometimes for me to fully understand his music. I hope he will forgive me.
Eelco Schilder

Marike Jager "Focus"
Label: Private record 2004
Marike is a new talent on the Dutch stages. I saw her this last summer on the folkwoods festival and enjoyed her concert a lot. A mixture of jazz, blues and pop with nice vocals and brought very pure. She won the big price of the Netherlands, which is a very prestigious music-price in Holland. Because of this she was allowed to record a limited five song numbered EP with own work. Five fine songs with as highlight Hide & seek. On this cd she plays it as a duet between piano and vocals, live she did this in duet with a fender rhodes what had a fantastic impact. Get yourself this nice first EP by this new talent. It will be worth hundreds of Euro when she is big and famous all around the world within a few years and it contains good music as well.
Homepage of the artist:
Eelco Schilder

George Papavgeris "Ordinary heroes"
Label: Irregular records, 2004
Geroge Papavgeris started visiting folkclubs in England in 1973 enjoying the music he had to miss these meeting because of work abroad of the country. He came back to the clubs in 2000 and has been a regular singer in several of them. In these past four years he has recorded a few cd's on a private label and now his first cd on the irregular label will be issued in October. He has written so many songs in the past years who have been sung by artists such as Roy Bailey, Vin Garbutt and Andy Irvine. The style of his music is close to the English folksingers like the earlier mentioned Roy Bailey. Although a song like Vassiliki (one of my favourites on the cd) reminds me of the Canadian folkmusic, it are mostly English orientated songs. His bit heavy voice, has emotion and depth and a very own sound. He recorded thirteen songs , both new and re-recordings of his old works. Helped by the fine musicians Saskia Tomkins on violin, Anahata on Cello, Concertina and Melodeon, Nicole Murray on whistle and Miranda Sykes on double bass. Especially the violin is a strong addition to his music. Saskia has a way of playing that fits perfectly to the personal vocals of Papavgeris. She brings some sun in the sometimes bit sad atmosphere of the music. A remarkable cd this Ordinary heroes, which I enjoy a lot. Hard to explain what it is, as his voice might not be the technically most perfect one, it has soul. And that is exactly what folk songs like this need, singing straight out of the soul of the composer and singer.
Eelco Schilder

Namgar "Hatar"
Label: Sketis music 008 2003
The Russian sketis label has issued a few interesting cd's with music from all parts of the Russian and Eurasia region. A few of their cd's will be reviewed in this issue of folkworld including this nice one by Namgar. Namgar is a female singer who sings music from the Mongolian and the Bruits tradition. Mongolian and Tuva music is not unknown in the rest of the world because of the music by Yat-kha, Huun huur tu, Egschiglen and many other artists. But besides vocalist Urna, I don't know many others who managed to bring the music outside the region. The female vocals from this region are almost the opposite of the male ones. Not the heavy, deep throat singing that is so characteristic for the male vocals, but high pitched, melodious long tones. Her band is a collection of fine musicians on various percussion instruments, flutes and of course the morin khuur. The sound of this string instrument is typical for the Mongolian music and gives the music a big part of it's own identity. Also some lead and back vocals by (throat) singing men to complete this album. Namgar gives us with this cd a beautiful trip through her ancient culture. The cd is of high quality and can be bought blind by all lovers of this specific musically area of people who want to explore new routes in worldmusic.
Eelco Schilder

Volga "Concert"
Label: Sketis music 004 2003
Already in the review for the cd by Namgar I introduce the Sketis label with a few words. A very young label, but if the quality of all their cd's are as strong as this one and the Namgar cd, I hope we will hear a lot from them in future. Volga is a quartet with Angela Manukja on vocals and is backed by a electronic group with programming, lo-fi electronics and guitar. The group brings Russian folksongs from the 12th to the 19th century in a futuristic way. No traditional instruments, big choirs or fast dances. Smooth rhythms and patterns of sounds, create a dark almost surrealistic soundscape that works hypnotising when you allow the music to enter your mind. It's not a cd that will be easy for many people to listen to. It is arranged in a very subtle way and you must allow yourself to get completely into the music to feel what it's about. I think Volga is one of the first groups world wide who doesn't bring folksongs like they were sung in the past or how they are sung today. No, Volga brings folksongs in the way they would sound in the future and with that they are pioneers in traditional music. A very special cd indeed.
Eelco Schilder

Amortal "Danza" and "Escualo"
Label: Fearless records f-2004002 and f-2004001 both 2004
Tango! The tango music is a style of music with so much passion and emotion that it will always be played world-wide. Each country has a few of it's own tango orchestra's or groups. Amortal is such a group from Germany that since two years is very active on stage. The group exist out of Female vocals, bandoneon, piano, violin and contrabass and has just released these two cd's on the fearless label. First Danza, a cd with tango nuevo all written by the master himself: Astor Piazzolla. A dangerous adventure, recording songs by Piazzolla because he has played them in such an unbelievable way himself that musicians should not try to copy that, but try to make their own versions of his work. Amortal did a nice job on this one. They bring the work of Piazzolla in such a way that the music opens it self to a big audience. They choose the way through the middle, probably the way most people would enjoy the tango. High quality musicians, professional arrangements make this cd a pleasure to listen to. They did not try to copy Piazzolla, but also didn't turn his music in something completely different. Decent and friendly tango music for the whole family. Actually the same for Danza their other cd. On which they bring work from several composers like Yann Tiersen and Mancini. Actually I have the same opinion about this one as about the other one. Open, friendly although a bit to popular to my taste at moments. This also because of the choice of material. In La cumparsita a bit to predictable tunes are put together to a clap a long tune, a pity but maybe necessary when you want to reach a big audience? Amortal is a group who plays beautiful music in a professional way and at a high level. I like their music but also find their interpretations a bit middle of the road. In a way I would have liked more power and more risk, on the other hand I also like their open interpretations of the tunes. So, I'm a bit mixed up here, best thing would be if you try to listen to their music yourself and decide what you think of it.
Homepage of the artist:
Eelco Schilder

Telenn Gwad
Label: Sketis music 006 2003
The third cd for the Sketis label this folkworlds and again….what a label! The third high quality cd from the Russian world of music. Telenn Gwad, a Russian group mixing Celtic music with classical, Russian and just beautiful acoustic music. One problem, all info is in Russian, even the webpage I couldn't find an English section. So I don't know who are the musicians and don't know a thing about the history of the band. The cd isn't just another nice Celtic influenced cd. It reminds me of the psycho folk from the seventies. Cello, flutes, percussion, soft guitar dreamy percussion etc. Check the opening track Mountains of rain and sun. Starts with a fantastic, sad solo on cello (?) taken over by flute and dreamy vocals and ending in a real psycho masterpiece. Sung in English and clear Celtic influences but they make so much more out of it. Or Durmun the stoned flute, hunting percussion and stunning voices make my heart beat twice as hard. This time clear Russian influences in rhythm and vocals making this one of my favourite on the cd. One of the favourites because actually all ten songs are surprising and strong. Not for lovers of the ordinary Celtic middle-of-the-road music, no, this is music for people who like experiment and a psycho touch to the music. If this cd would have been recorded during the early seventies it would cost you hundreds of Euro to get it, because everybody would be looking for it. Now it's only a mouse click away….and some lessons in Russian language. Please, I beg all bands on this beautiful label, please make English versions of your homepage as well. It's so frustrated that I like a cd this much and I cant read a thing about you.
Eelco Schilder

Frederic Galliano & the African divas "Sacre live"
Label: F communication f-199 2004-08-24
A real dance event, this Frederic Galliano & the Farican divas. Recorded during a concert in France and Holland they wanted to capture the atmosphere of the live concert. The group mixes African vocals with strong beats and electronics. Very suitable for a night dancing but to be honest, I get bored after a few songs. The beat is to much the same and although it's well done, I miss the variation in the music. I would love to hear this on a night dancing, than the constant beat would make people dance. But at home, listening to this it's just to much. So, a great album to dance on and I think that was the plan to invite friends and have a dancing hour. But to review, without friends just listening to the music, the cd misses it's goal. A good cd with great vocals and some hot dance music but notice that this cd is not that suitable for a nice relaxed hour of listening pleasure.
Eelco Schilder

Rada Synergica "Isgrelaje"
Label: Private record
The German group Rada brings acoustic Klezmer music on vocals, cello, Clarinet, piano and accordion. A nice collection of songs with many known melodies. A fabulous start with the song Isgrelaje in which the three women show great harmony vocals that remind me of the first cd by Miranda sex garden. Unfortunately this is also the best song on the whole cd. The biggest problem with this cd to my opinion is the piano. Listen to Nane zocha and you know what I mean. The piano is to dominate in the music. Constantly giving the same chord with so much volume that it really gets irritating. Than the vocals, how is it possible that a group starts with such fantastic vocals in the opening track and on the rest of the cd never get near that high level? I really don't understand that, and I find that a real pity. There are so many Klezmer cd's released each month and you must real come with something good to get above the others. Rada doesn't have that level yet. The arrangements are to simple, and the quality of the music isn't constant enough. This group needs more time to grow into a more own style and shouldn't be afraid to make some more creative arrangements in their music. For me the openingstrack shows this group has some real potential, but Synergica comes just to early to convince me.
Homepage of the artist:
Eelco Schilder

Ron Spears & within tradition
Label: Coppercreek cccd-0219, 2004
Ron Spears, already for a few decades a known name in US bluegrass music started the Ron Spears & within tradition combination in 1999 together with Charlie Edsall. Later they added three young musicians who had been attending a bluegrass music program at a college in Texas. The band brings pure bluegrass like it has been played for ages. Strong fingerpicking, the sound of the banjo and fiddle are in the middle of the music so are the typical vocals by Spears himself. Not the best vocalist, somehow the vocals sound a bit forced on occasion, but he understands the art of bluegrass music singing. The cd contains songs from the Appalachian region, as well as some Honky tonkin songs. For me this is a decent bluegrass cd, but not a remarkable one in any kind. I'm not a bluegrass expert but comparing this to what I have been reviewing the past years It's a bit boring and to be honest, the vocals do bother me after five songs. The bit whining style of singing gets on my nerves and make it hard for me to listen to the very strong stringwork. So as you can read I have mixed feelings with this cd. As a European I'm not brought up with this music style so I have a totally different way of looking to this cd than many others from the bluegrass tradition would do. If you are into this style of music, try this cd but for me it's to standard to be really remarkable.
Eelco Schilder

Shamaila Khan "Oi"
Label: KGN; 0786
Shamaila Khan was born in Pakistan from where she moved to London. In 2001 she was chosen Miss Asia UK which brought her a lot of attention world-wide. After this election she was asked to act in Bollywood films but she didn't want to act, music was her main wish. She asked Bollywood music director Rajan Bawa if he would like to make an album with her and so they recorded Oi. Bawa also wrote the songs on this cd that is vocals and electronics only. The cd is presented as a mix of Hindi, English and Arabic. It indeed is but most of all it's a mainstream pop album with some ethnic influences that doesn't get even one moment above the average pop cd. It are loud beats, electronic sounds that take full control on this cd. The vocals and music isn't always on the same line. Listen to Jia beqarar on which it sounds like the vocals and electronics have been recorded in two different places and later put together, it just doesn't fir and that counts for more songs on this cd. Don't let the press info fool you, this has almost nothing to do with worldmusic. This is pure dancebeats with all kind of computer instruments ( not even real ones!) combined with a Hindi style vocal. This is again such a pity, how is it possible to judge Shamaila Khan her vocals while it's impossible to keep track on them in this chaos of beats and sounds? I do hope she gets a second chance and will record a more acoustic and peaceful album so I can really enjoy her voice. Now Oi is nothing more than a nice dance album for a party but even for that there are much better ones.
Eelco Schilder

Sharron Kraus "Songs of love and loss"
Label: Camera obscura; 065; 2004
Sharron Kraus just released her second cd Songs of love and loss with thirteen nice own songs (one traditional) in the tradition of old English ballads. Her first cd Beautiful twisted was already a remarkable one, this new cd goes even a step further. With more musicians she recorded a cd with a strong acoustic feeling and a more complete sound than her first cd. Still there is sensitive banjo/guitar and vocals only where her unique voice gets all the space it needs to tell her story. But besides these 'silent' songs with whom she already impressed on Beautiful twisted, now she shows to be able to make her music alive in a setting with a band playing along. Don't think that this makes this cd rock or bombastic, even with the musicians playing along she keeps the intimate acoustic sound. The power of Sharron is her voice. She has such a own style of singing and her voice has such a unique sound, that you will either love it or hate it. I know that some people who listened to it couldn't listen to it for more than one song because while others got gripped by her way of bringing the songs alive. For me there is not doubt Sharron Kraus I very special and her music has a secret kind of power. I strongly advice everybody to visit and make up your own mind. It's worth the trouble.
Eelco Schilder

Mary Smith (Mairi Nic a´Ghobhainn) "Sgiath Airgid"
Label: Macmeanmna 2004
Mary Smith was born and brought up on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Her debut album is a collection of traditional Gaelic songs and thus the excellent guest musicians stay in the background. Nevertheless Aidan O'Rourke on fiddle, Malcolm Stitt on guitar and cittern, Ingrid Henderson on clarsach and keyboards, Iian Mac Donald on pipes, flutes, whistles, bodhrán and jaws harp guarantee perfect instrumental accompaniment. Ingrid Henderson, Allan MacDonald, Kathleen MacInnes and Catriona MacKinnon are supporting Mary on those breathtaking songs with some fine backing vocals. My favourites are Catherine Campbell's love song "Cúl do Chinn", accompanied only by the tender sound of the clarsach, the Irish love song "Dá Mheinn I mo Bhádóir" which is enhanced with Iian?s beautiful whistling and the lament "Marbhrann do Mhacleòid" featuring some beautiful piping. The rhythmic Barra song "Bàta Dhomhnaill A Chrògain" is accelerated by the fiddle, guitar, jaws harp and the tin whistle and the waulking song "Dh´èirich mim och mhadainn earraich" really keeps you going as well. Mary's vocals are the dominant part of the CD and no matter if she sings alone or accompanied by the beautiful backing vocals the Gaelic a Capella singing is breathtaking and it sends you shivers down your spine. After having showed her talent 1999 on the compilation album Gaelic Women (Ar Cànan `s ar ceòl) with the song "Tha Caileag A'st- Earrach" (Young lass in spring), Mairi Nic a´Ghobhainn finally has released her long overdue and eagerly awaited first CD "Sgiath Airgid". I recommend this CD to everyone who loves traditional Gaelic songs. You won?t easily find a singer that performs those songs with more skill and feeling. Mary is in my opinion one of the best Gaelic singers and I'm looking forward to her following works., contact:
Adolf Goriup

Bríd Ní Mhaoileoin "Ar Mhuin na Muice (On the Pig's Back)"
Label: Habari Records (own label) 2004
The debut album of Donegal singer Bríd Ní Mhaoileoin features a balanced mixture of sean nós songs and ballads, played and sung with much feeling, as well as rhythmic songs - a perfect showcase for the fantastic musicians. Bríd?s singing is sensitive and hauntingly beautiful. She brilliantly carries her words forward and performs some breathtaking sean nós. You can feel her love to the music on "Caidé sin don tsé sin?" (what's that to anyone?), one of her favourite songs. Carpe diem! She urges us with her singing while the bodhrán beats the rhythm. Alan, who started out as a percussionist, delights with his vibrant guitar playing, enchants the ballads with his beautiful backing vocals and plays the guitar as well as the bouzouki on traditional songs. The Donegal song "An Trucaillín Donn" (the little brown cart) deals with the suppression of the Irish language in the beginning of the 20th century. Alan's beautiful singing is supported by the band's excellent playing: Bríd on bodhrán, Wolf on base, Kevin on fiddle and Kate on accordion. Kate Dunne plays the accordion with much feeling and passion. Don't miss her excellent solo on "Bídeach na gCarad" (sweetest of friends). Joe McHugh not only is a master of the uillean pipes, but he's a great whistler as well. Kevin O'Connor's remarkable fiddling contributes to the beauty of this album. Wolf Zwiauer's driving base, alongside with Bríd's bodhrán and Alan's guitar, is responsible for the fine rhythms. Francis McIlduff, a brilliant musician as well, plays the pipes and the whistle on the Donegal song "Máire Bhruithneal" (you might have heard this song on Clannad's Live album). Pádraig and Caitlín accompany Bríd on the stunning a capella song "Stór a Stór a Ghrá" (Darling Darling Dear). This is certainly one of my favourite songs. And Pádraig plays the guitar while Bríd sings and Joe plays the whistles on the Irish version of the song of the 1600swhich is known worldwide "Cá raibh tú ar feadh an lae uaim?" (Where have you been all day). Ian Smith, the sound engineer, plays the piano and adds some backing vocals as well. Another highlight is the traditional children?s song "Ailiú Éanaí", an a capella performance by Bríd and Alan. Bríd's voice has been recorded on multiple tracks and the title words have been adapted as well. Thus the singing recalls the yodelling sounds in the Alps. I can hear some influence of African chanting as well, no wonder, Bríd spent her first childhood years in Kenya. The album is an outstanding and beautiful piece of art and the sheer beauty of her music will certainly inspire friends of Irish music. With her genuine and unique style Bríd is an excellent enrichment to the folk music scene. CD availability: and you will find plenty of information on her different projects.
Adolf Goriup

More English CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2- Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2
Overview: CD Review Contents

To the content of FolkWorld No. 29

© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 09/2004

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