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Private Label D&A001

Odd in a good way, this recording describes itself as "Music from the Irish, American and Nordic Traditions" and sticks pretty much to its manifesto. Danny Diamond, a young Dublin fiddler with an impressive musical background and more Donegal connections than the Irish national bus company, has teamed up with mysterious button box artist Aki to produce a recording which is raw and powerful. Polyphonic sounds on both fiddle and box - the double-stopping of Donegal and Nordic fiddle traditions, the harmonic possibilities of the accordion - allow very full and intense duo arrangements. With simple melodies for the most part, the chords and cadences can be rich indeed. Boss Murphy's Schottisches, Brännvinslät, Kahman Anti and other tracks have an almost Renaissance feel, while the Irish and American dance tunes lean towards that Nordic fiddle sound with deep drones and octave harmonies.

Danny and Aki are neither flamboyantly adventurous nor super tight. In fact, given Danny's 2009 recording with Morga and his day job in the Irish Traditional Music Archive, I'm surprised this recording isn't more polished. Its rawness certainly has an idiosyncratic charm, as well as making it stand out from the many refined virtuoso CDs coming out of Ireland: this is much more akin to Scandinavian or even English releases, dark and introspective, but dramatic and passionate too. Think Bruce Molsky perhaps, especially on Shove The Pig's Foot and Little Billy Wilson., but consider also the seventies recordings of Denis Murphy, Julia Clifford, John Doherty, James Byrne and other West of Ireland fiddlers. The box is backgrounded at times, and doesn't show the same depth of control as the fiddle, but it comes into its own in the second half of this album: listen to The Drogheady March, The Gypsy Princess, and especially The Night Before Larry Was Stretched, a great rediscovery for me. Google Danny & Aki for sales and contact information: biographical details are scanty at best.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 93 of The Living Tradition magazine.