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FOURTH MOON - Odyssey 

FOURTH MOON - Odyssey 
Private Label MOON02CD 

Fourth Moon is four miraculously simpatico musicians from homelands with diverse cultures, coming together to play mostly their own compositions informed by the Irish and Scottish traditional music in which they’d made their name. Although there’s been a personnel change or two since the group’s onstage inception in 2014, Fourth Moon has now settled into a line-up comprising Andrew Waite (piano accordion), Géza Frank (flute, whistles), David Lombardi (fiddle) and Jean Damei (guitar) – from Scotland, Austria, Italy and France respectively – who are joined by guest Michael Shimmin on drums for a number of tracks on Odyssey, their second album release.

There’s a lot going on in Fourth Moon’s music, a signature feature of which is the sense of exhilaration they engender, the joyful abandon with which they let fly when meeting up on the same stage, as it were, to combine their prowess and explore creatively the catalytic and innovative interaction of their instruments. There’s an abundance of creativity and intelligent detail in the way individual entries are managed and their textures then subsequently blended. Impressively invigorating too is the way transitions are managed; a deceptively restful opening can take up a gradual and freshly paced accelerando which at a masterstroke entry will trigger a moment of pure joy at letting loose the next tune, a moment which is ready at that very point to be shared among the musicians and yet retains each one’s personal characteristics - like Jean’s special combination of lyricism and rhythmic elan that opens final track Voyager, or the moment of catharsis on other tracks when a tune-set changes gear.

One recent development is the integration of Scottish singer Ainsley Hamill into the group. Her fiery energy and stunning vocal dexterity tailor so very well with the group’s unique brand of thrust and momentum on the pair of puirt a beul that form the first section of Sextant, while her commanding, dramatic storytelling style makes her account of the ballad Lady Isabel & The Elf Knight singularly memorable.

Even more so than on their debut album, 2018’s Ellipsis, Fourth Moon’s personal, literal “odyssey” of the pandemic years is to be regarded as much as a stance on perseverance in the music and arts industry as a symbol of unity that joins cultures and breaks down borders.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 142 of The Living Tradition magazine