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GNOSS - Drawn From Deep Water 

GNOSS - Drawn From Deep Water 
Blackfly Records BFLY03CD 

A highly pleasurable first full-length album from this young quartet; very melodic, often with a kind of mellow swing. You see the line-up (fiddle, flute, guitar, bodhrán) and think, “just lots of very fast tunes”, but that’s not Gnoss’s modus operandi. I think they’ve made the right call – there are plenty of musicians who do ‘all-out attack’, and some do it spectacularly well. Ross Ainslie comes to mind, and funnily enough, he produced this album - perhaps he persuaded Gnoss not to compete? (Actually, some of the flute/whistle-led material here is rather reminiscent of Ross’s softer repertoire.)

The music might be described as contemporary, performed in a broadly traditional style. Four of the 11 tracks are songs, three composed by band members. Two feature words by the Orkney poet and novelist, George Mackay Brown, reflecting that the band is partly Orcadian (I believe the original duo line-up consisted of Orkney chaps). The tunes are also mostly recent compositions, with multiple contributions by the group. I confess to thinking that the number they’ve borrowed from Väsen’s repertoire might be the best instrumental, though fiddler Graham Rorie and flautist Connor Sinclair’s originals do run it close.

In the autumn, Gnoss is visiting Belper in Derbyshire (surely the English East Midlands’ capital of Scottish music) and I will face the testing challenge of walking all of seven minutes to get to see them - it should be worth it though. The album’s great.

Paul Mansfield


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine