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NITEWORKS - A’ Ghrian 

NITEWORKS - A’ Ghrian 
Comann Music CM006 

The third album by Skye’s self styled powerhouse proponents of folk-electronica (with their ‘reputation for unapologetic innovation’) seeks to achieve a more expansive cinematic impact in combining their signature synthesised sounds here, for the first time, with English and Scots song and their customary Gaelic fare.

Over 10 tracks, the Niteworks quartet of Ruairidh Graham (drummer), Allan MacDonald (pipes), Christopher Nicolson (bass) and Innes Strachan (synths/keys) present four instrumental pieces and six songs that feature the solo voices of Ellen MacDonald, Hannah Rarity, Beth Malcolm, Kathleen MacInnes, Alasdair Whyte, choral collaborators Sian and others, with guest string arrangements and contributors further supplementing their sui generis soundscapes.

The familiarly insistent characteristics of electronic music – an emphatically hefty, often hypnotic, programmed powertrain of pulsing repeated subterranean bass sounds underpinning layered, serpentine and shifting patterns of pounding percussive beats and other textural details – are present aplenty, along with sequences of subtler ambient and atmospherically charged content (as on their airy and shimmery version of Archie MacFarlane’s Old Ghost’s Waltz).

This is the backdrop into which Niteworks have sought imaginatively to align and accommodate their array of guest vocalists, singers who instinctively tend to convey a timeless, sometimes ethereal, folk feel in their delivery. The result is a fascinating fusion that both intrigues and challenges the listener to decide whether the result is relative collision or, in the main (most notably perhaps with trad Gura Mise Tha Fo Èislein and Robert Tannahill’s Gloomy Winter), cleverly crafted cohesion and congruity; indeed, perhaps, a genuinely refreshing new context for its subject song material.

Kevin T Ward


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine