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FILSKA "Time and Tide" Highlander Music HRMCD005

This group take their name from the old Shetland word for "high-spirited", and it must be one of the most apposite labels anyone has ever given themselves, as that is exactly the approach they take to their playing, and exactly the sound they produce.

Right from the first few bars of the opening "Bunjie's Dilemma / Trip To Sauchiehall Street / McFadden's Reel / The Auld Fiddler" set there is a freshness and vitality to the playing which combines drive and vigour without compromising the integrity of the material. Have no doubt, these musicians understand their material and are faithful to their traditions, but are not afraid to decorate and adorn the tunes with subtle little twists and turns which make them their own.

Perhaps it's not surprising that there is so much of a drive, given that there are three fiddles powering along in the more than capable hands of Jenna Reid, Gemma Wilson and Bethany Reid, combining with Andy Brewer's lilting flute, Joyce Reid's steadily underpinning piano and producer / engineer Andrew Tulloch's complementary acoustic and bass guitars. Sometimes an over-representation of one particular type of instrument can lead to problems of when to play in unison and when to harmonise, but that is never a difficulty here, with every player merging seamlessly with the rest.

Although there are lots of good-going sets, Filska are no mean shakes when they turn their hands to the slower numbers, as in the rearranging of Phil Cunningham's Monday Morning, which is here geared down from a reel to an evocative slow air.

This album has been on release for a wee while now, but it was well worth my waiting to get a copy to review for the sheer energy and quality that Filska have to offer.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 43 of The Living Tradition magazine.