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SCRAN - Nane 

SCRAN - Nane 
Culture Vannin CVD001 

Manx traditional music is not often a regular sound to my ears, despite the island’s proximity to Ireland and the UK, so it is a source of wonder and excitement when new exponents reach me and thus I welcomed Scran’s debut album, Nane, with some joy and curiosity.

Scran is a big band with 10 members, all in their teens, and emerged from the Manx Youth Movement, Bree, organised by Culture Vannin. Theirs is an eclectic bunch of sounds with everything from Calan / early Capercaillie / Silly Wizard type blasts of heady tunes on fiddles and accordion, stringed harps and mellifluous vocals from Aerin Roberts (remember that name!) being most obvious. There are also some unexpected salvos of Delta slide guitar, phased electric guitar and almost psychedelic scenarios – like I said, it’s eclectic but all the more exciting, blood pumping and energetically left field for that.

Celtic tunes from the Isle of Man, Ireland and beyond crop up within the sets. If anything, it reminded me most of The Train Journey North, a young Scottish band from the nineties with plenty of gusto, brio and idealism, not to mention a welcome respect for the tradition - a recipe shared with Scran on this collection. The tunes and vocals are all played with plenty of skill, energy and individual virtuosity, and it’s not surprising to hear them play full on and then drop the sound to a solo harp at the end of a tune set. Neither is it unnatural to slip in a slow song, Arrane Saveenagh, highlighting Aerin Roberts’ sweet voice. It’s this unpredictability allied to a razor-sharp command of dynamic that lends Nane its exciting cliff-edged exhilaration. This, coupled with white knuckled energy, makes Nane a rollercoaster ride for the ears and imagination.

John O’Regan


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine