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Comann Music CM001

This exciting new Scottish band plays music that is complex and riveting. Taking influences from piping and traditional methodology and adding it to modern technology with nods to techno and ambience, it’s a sound that blends several genres in one. Their debut album is an accomplished and compelling work that invokes the listener to spend time with it and develop an appreciation for the excellence in playing as well as the involvement in creating a modern Scottish folk music equally at home in DJ sets as it is on dance floors. Vocal cameos from Donald Macdonald on Poor Ben, Kathleen MacInnes on Maraiche, and Laura Donnelly on Coming Down find their voices submerged in an electronic mesh that’s both minimalist and accessible yet completely contemporary. Maraiche musically recalls Joy Division while the electronics which echo everything from Kraftwerk and ambient dance purveyors dominate the proceedings. The link with tradition is also present in the presentation and application of ethnic forms to electronic soundscapes. Eilean recalls Capercaillie and Na h-Oganaigh’s versions of Eilean Na Cheo, a Gaelic classic but one pulled into the 21st century with side drums and a powerful threatening electronic backing.

NW is a different animal to that which many readers of this publication are used to, yet it recalls the works of people like Paul Mounsey in his Nahoo projects and the late Martyn Bennett who dared turn the music on its head and subsequently reinvented it for a new generation. Here stirring pipe solos, breathy female voices and strident male Gaelic singers merge with fiddle, accordion and masses of keyboards and percussion to provide music that is new and yet extremely old and familiar. Martyn Bennett, in his ground breaking album Bothy Culture, created a genre as well as a catchphrase and this same innovative spirit guides Niteworks to make something equally bold and innovative. This is Scottish music but not as we know it Jim! For those daring enough to broach NW, they will be surprised and captivated by it.

John O’Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 115 of The Living Tradition magazine.