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Private Label PIGEON009

Maalstroom is a Dutch group that has been heavily influenced by the Celtic musical tradition. However their name Maalstroom, or Maelstrom in English, does not particularly reflect their playing style of a frenetic Celtic ‘whirlpool’ or ‘turbulent confusion’. Their musicality is mellow like hot chocolate with a leaning at times towards jazz; ultimately the listener is rewarded by a honed sophisticated comprehensive sound that has had all the corners knocked off. If you are looking for spirited, thrilling and exhilarating Celtic music that tears at your very soul then perhaps this is not the CD for you. There is nothing inherently wrong with the music, which is performed with fine musicianship all round. Fundamentally, to fall into the category of Celtic, there seems to be an essential raw element missing, maybe Lure falls between two stools.

The compositions are mainly written by the group members consisting of Michel Duijves, who is the main driving force playing clarinet, piano and vocals. Job Cornelissen is the percussionist of the group performing on the bodhrán, cajon, percussion and vocals. Paul Pallesen plays guitar, bouzouki, vocals and Gilles Rullman on violin and also lends a hand with the vocals. The group is ably supported on some of the tracks by Jo Freya who adds a mean tin whistle on The Couples, which incidentally has a nice jocular element to the composition. Andrew Cadie is also featured on Northumbrian pipes on Carnac.

In my opinion, Maalstroom are at their best during the instrumental pieces where the group is more comfortable and centred, The Lonely Pump being a case in question. The smattering of songs sung in English on the album lack depth of composition, I much preferred De Turelurelei which is sung wholly in Dutch.

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 113 of The Living Tradition magazine.