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DANA LYN & KYLE SANNA - The Great Arc 

DANA LYN & KYLE SANNA - The Great Arc 
Private Label

Like a cross between gamelan and Gurteen grunge, this New York duo's music could be concisely described as a re-imagining of Irish traditional melodies, plus some other pieces. Dana's fiddle mostly plays the tune, while Kyle's guitar mostly provides accompaniment, but sometimes these roles are reversed.

Their choice of material is pretty mainstream - The Cloone Reel, The Legacy, Poll Ha'penny, The Galtee Rangers and other familiar names. The interest is in the arrangements, and some of these are indeed quite striking. Gentle guitar picking gives way to a much louder fiddle line on Seán Sa Cheó. Broken phrases and hanging notes introduce Jack Coughlan's. The second half of this recording brings in piano, viola, accordion and clarinet, with an adaptation of a Bach dance and a slow misty composition by Lyn. Dissonance and competing rhythms, field recordings of American wildlife, and an unusual mix of instruments move this music away from the traditional Irish sound towards ... what? There is little information to go on, except that The Great Arc is dedicated to extinct and endangered animals, from the stegosaurus (lost around 60 million years ago) to the Sumatran orangutan, which is still clinging onto existence. Eastern percussion mixes it up with The Old Bush before Madame Maxwell is set loose in a forest full of birds. The final Rainy Day pours all these ingredients together for a very full sound, dedicated to the wildlife of the Great Barrier Reef. There's no classical over-precision here, and no jazzy self-indulgence, but much of The Great Arc doesn't fit in traditional music either, so this CD is a bit of an enigma - which is no bad thing. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.