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SIMON THOUMIRE "Solo1" Tartan Tapes - CDWH001

This is the first recording in a new series of White Label CDs from Tartan Tapes. The idea is that these are low-cost but high-quality albums. Since Tartan Tapes is Simon's own label, he's kicked off the series with a welcome solo recording. Mr Thoumire is a virtuoso concertina-player with a very modern style, leaning towards jazz. "Solo1" combines Irish, Scottish and Swedish traditional tunes with half a dozen Thoumire compositions. The playing here is technically near-perfect, and the material is varied and entertaining. This is a true solo CD: concertina and nothing else, but concertina played as you've probably never heard it before. For most people, a reel by Maire Bhreathnach would be enough of a challenge, but not for our Simon: he gives it an almost atonal interpretation, with plenty of ear-jarring improvisation. His variations on 'The Flowers of Edinburgh' are particularly good too, as is the untitled slow air with its low harmonies. The original compositions include a pair of jaunty marches, a couple of interesting experimental pieces, and the unashamedly virtuosic showpiece 'Ponyjigg', which will turn many players green with envy. As a snapshot of contemporary traditional music, and a target for aspiring musicians, this CD is an unqualified success. As a listening album, it's quite heavy going but worth the effort. My only real criticism is that it's a bit short on length at 42 minutes, but it's also much cheaper than most albums of similar quality.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 40 of The Living Tradition magazine.