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MODHAN - The Admiralís Fireworks

MODHAN - The Admiralís Fireworks
Private Label

Dynamic melodies with hang-your-hat-on-grooves’ runs the subtitle on the press release. However, I think this significantly understates the profound breadth and sophistication of the music of mondial Modhan.

This second release by the sextet of Mark Aspden (clarinet, whistles, piano), Kay Vickers (violin), Jodie Bremaneson (bass), Graham McLeod (guitars), Chris Higgins (mandolin) and Andy McLeod (cajon, percussion), is grant aided by, entirely appropriately, Creative Scotland (Alba Chruthachail).

The 10 instrumental pieces (for which Aspden is acknowledged as the major composer although the others each have credits for their contributions) are technically complex and progressive. Yet, the music is always accessible to the ear, emphatically melodious and rich with rhythmic variety. Drawing from folk, jazz, funk and classical roots, with musical influences from the Celtic firmament, European, Eastern and African sources, it’s an innovative ferment and fusion of ideas that has been crafted into some deeply arresting music.

It’s obvious from the opening track Chez Spannerinos that these are skilled and imaginative players with ears wide open to the world, determined to explore and exploit the full sonic palette of their individual instruments. The arrangements provide them all with opportunities for telling contributions and spotlight expression. Bremaneson’s playing is particularly noteworthy in its utilisation of the chordal and harmonic opportunities of his instrument but all of the players are intricately interwoven into the cosmopolitan compositions with their ranging time signatures and, at times, sinuous modal forms.

Finally, the creativity extends (beyond me this time though) to the title and cover art. Who exactly is the period Admiral and conceptually where do the galleon, tempestuous sea, lighthouse and flaring fireworks fit?

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 96 of The Living Tradition magazine.