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Fàrsan is an emerging quartet, with prowess aplenty in both instrumental and vocal delivery. Their name means to ramble or rove, but they are solidly anchored in the energy of Nova Scotian/Scottish music. Their debut CD is marked by an ability to intertwine instrumentals and Gaelic songs, with each track a whole new setting.

They open with a lullaby from Lewis, on the wistful side of ethereal. Their considerable instrumental ability (on fiddle, accordion, pipes, whistle, piano, percussion and step-dancing) shows on the grand set of tunes, The Water Boiling Machine. The track opens with smooth fiddle and pipes and the expansive Cape Breton piano keeping it all in good stride, and ending off with a Gaelic song. Then there is the broad strathspey of Fear Drabastach (Creepy Man) that shows their ability to build a set that includes instrumental pieces as well as a few puirt-à-beul about kilts for good measure. There are downright spooky tracks, some prime examples of vocal-fiddle collaboration, and the strong rhythms of waulking songs (with a few long notes in the background for added texture).

While the members have experience in other genres (two are also involved with the Afro-Celtic Funk band, Soulsha), they connect with a style that is confident and respectful. They are steeped in a heritage that is held in common, all moving it ever-so-slightly in new directions. I simply hope that they can find time in their respective schedules to continue to record and tour as a band.

Ivan Emke

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This album was reviewed in Issue 128 of The Living Tradition magazine.