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GOITSE - Rosc 

GOITSE - Rosc 
Private Label GSECD6 

Initially formed in Limerick University in 2007, Goitse has become one of Ireland’s most exciting new Celtic bands. They are also among the most prolific, with six albums down in a 15-year long career. Goitse releases its new album, Rosc, with some interesting changes. Already on their second album with new member, banjo player Alan Reid, replacing original member James Harvey, they move further into the realm of sonic exploration.

This time they add Sean Og Graham as producer and also a bevy of new musical ideas including subtle electronica, electric guitar and exotic instruments such as the oud into their line-up. The good news is that they haven’t abandoned their initial cut and thrust of playing traditional style music in their own tunes and sets, there is plenty of that here. The front line of Tadhg Ó Meachair on accordion and keyboards, Áine McGeeney on fiddle, and the aforementioned Alan Reid produce commendable melodic lines and sounds, while Conal O’Kane’s guitars and Colm Phelan’s bodhrán keeps everything in check. The developments are subtle rather than bombastic, peripheral rather than frontline, and the inclusion of new technology, musical or otherwise, is hardly noticeable.

The tune sets vary in sound. The opening The Biggest Little Journey mixes the moody and the stirring in equal measure and provides an absorbing entry. The Morning Noon And Night set offers three jig variants with accordion, fiddle and banjo leading the fray. Cave Of The Wild Horses along with The Trusty Messenger, The Peacocks and the stirring all guns blazing closer, The House On The Hill, allude to a group sound that is built as taut as a brick wall.

Goitse is a solid band musically, they don’t blind you with aeronautics and off the wall ideas – they just lay it out, build a head of steam, hit a groove and stay there. The groove element is what makes them attractive. The fact that they know one another from decades of ensemble work helps, and it shows – their tightness is almost blinding.

While the musical element has always been ahead of the pack, the song content has often been their bugbear. The problem they faced was suitable material on which to frame Áine McGeeney’s voice in its individuality. They tackle this aspect on Rosc by experimenting with adding guest vocalist Aoife Scott’s harmonies on the opening song, Come You Not From Newcastle, but while the result is pleasant, it tends to err on the precious. However, to Áine’s credit, she gains in prowess as the album continues and by the time she hits the Gaelic song, Margadh An Iúir, and The Green Fields Of Canada, she pulls off performances of authority and strength with a punch and brio lacking elsewhere.

Listening to a Goitse album is like playing poker - it’s all down to the hands and cards dealt. The suits which appear initially undemanding suddenly become giants when one ingredient is added, the ace card of their individuality which finally shows itself and displays its true colours here. They are so almost there in realising their gifts and producing the masterpiece they are capable of, the prospect of it is as exhilarating as it is daunting. The cards are down and Goitse lays an almost killer hand on Rosc, laden with promise and near full realisation. They are so nearly there it hurts.

John O’Regan


This review appeared in Issue 145 of The Living Tradition magazine