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DR FAUSTUS "First Cut" Fellside FECD177

The resurgence of all things British on the folk circuit at the moment is most gratifying and Dr Faustus can count themselves at the forefront. Not since the early days of Pyewackett has there been such a forward thinking band in terms of their arrangements. The four members of the band Tim Van Eyken, Benji Kirkpatrick, Robert Harbron and Paul Sartin can produce dynamic choppy rhythms and swinging concertina, melodeon, fiddle and oboe or just as easily wow their audience with an integrity for their choice of (mainly traditional) material. The opening track, a melancholy 'Newry Town' starts off with a counter melody playing against the main theme proving melodically pleasing to the ear and yet also a little unsettling. At least it will grab the attention of the layman and a musician will more than likely find it ingenious in its construction. This is carried over on the gently evocative 'The Thresherman' where the vocal performance is enhanced by the hypnotic chiming effect of bouzouki and guitar before being joined by the drone of the melodeon. By pitching their vocal harmonies at more or less the same register (where as I'm sure they could have added high part harmonies if required) they have given the overall sound an almost Gothic quality that is quite unique in capturing the essence of the lyric. Possibly, just to prove they can, they also re-invigorate the song 'The Lincolnshire Poacher' (yes, the old school chestnut) done with aplomb and not a hint of a derisory sneer towards any detractors - ah, such memories. This is an album that many will find a rewarding and at times challenging experience.

Pete Fyfe

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.