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BRISK - To An Isle In The Water 

BRISK - To An Isle In The Water 
Appel Rekords APR1388 

Belgium has been well attuned to the sounds of Celtic music from visiting bands and tours, and indeed is fostering its own healthy interest in and command of Celtic music. From home grown bands like Orion and Shantalla and others, the whole Celtic gamut from righteous reels to solo singing has been listened to and assimilated. Encountering Brisk, one finds another accomplished outfit whose Celtic-inspired music is well-honed and suitably diverse.

Musically, Brisk is a newish quartet that concentrates on Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Breton music. Playing fiddle, flutes, guitar and bodhrán, the music they make is excitingly varied and highly addictive. Flautist Gunner Van Hove, singer/guitarist Jeroen Knapen and percussionist Wim Moons have been around the scene for some time; fiddler Naomi Vercauteren graduated from University in Ghent recently, and adds to the front line very capably.

They write their own tunes and also display keen ears for tunes by Irish players and composers like Brian Finnegan and Niall Vallely. Indeed, the latter influences are pivotal to understanding the frisson within the band, as their playing has an edge and vibrancy both found in Flook, Nomos and Buille. This is cosmopolitan European Celtic music played with vigour. The tune sets like Shetland Turtle add plenty of suspense and wild abandon, as do the Breton Reels set and Sofie’s - all establishing a group identity.

The songs include settings of WB Yeats poems, Scottish battle songs, and a sea shanty, all with well worked out arrangements. To An Isle In The Water is a first album full of solid performances with plenty of dips and highs in the tune department. There is much ingenuity and accomplishment on display, and it promises much for the future.

John O’Regan