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PHIL HARDY "Low Whistle" KWL 001

Phil Hardy makes and plays Kerry low whistles (email for more info), and this recording is obviously partly a marketing ploy. Fair enough - the whistles sound great, although it's hard to know what technical jiggerypokery was used in the recording because this is a totally high-tech undertaking. The music here is more Afro-Celt than Ancient Kerry, with drum machines and synthesisers galore. There's not an unadulterated traditional tune to be found in 45 minutes, but Phil's compositions have borrowed heavily from Irish, English, Balkan and other traditions.

The really great things about this album are that it's all very polished and that Phil is actually an outstandingly good whistle player. Just as most of the ideas here come from MacNally, McGoldrick or Spillane, the musicianship is up to their standards too. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's certainly worth a listen and it shows off the Kerry whistles beautifully. As a cultural artefact, this CD is perhaps a little patchy. It draws from so many sources that it's hard to see any coherence. There are also a few cases of poor judgement - four minutes of variations on "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" is too much, and I could have done without the bells for instance. These are minor points, however: in general this recording is an overwhelming success as a showcase for both Phil Hardy and Kerry whistles. A real eye-opener, this one - if whistles are your thing, give it a whirl.

Alex Monaghan  

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This album was reviewed in Issue 42 of The Living Tradition magazine.