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BARRY REID - Breathing Space 

BARRY REID - Breathing Space 
Rose Croft Records RCRCD101 

Barry Reid is a musician, producer and recording engineer who certainly knows his way around studios, though ironically this is his first solo release. A couple of years back, he had just set up his new studio at his home in Muir of Ord in the Highlands when the lockdown happened. So he pivoted - he became the first client for his new studio. You may know Barry from some of the bands he has been with (e.g., Treacherous Orchestra, Croft No. Five) or the albums he has produced (e.g., Shooglenifty, Dàimh, Talisk). He has always had a foot in traditional music and one in funk and electronic influences. This CD allows him to meld these backgrounds.

He collected sounds on his walks in the woods and foothills of the Highlands and reworked them as ambience as well as percussive elements. With this basis, he created a structure of chord sequences, then wrote the melodies to fit them, and added in synthesizers and electronic rhythms. Reid plays guitar, synthesizers, drums, harmonium, keyboards and various forms of programming and sampling, and was assisted by several musical friends on fiddle, flute and whistle.

On the tracks, ambient sounds may establish the feel of the piece, and then the melodic lines are added in, and the dance of interplay begins. Sometimes there may be animals, birds, waves, wind or weather, and other times the electronics may be more foreground. Some standout tracks would be If Six Was Twelve (with a flute weaving in and out with the tune) or Better Days or Breathing Space, both with guitar as a primary instrument.

This is a deftly-produced release with an intricate layering of sounds, and a charming dance of the interplay of nature, melody and electronics. It evokes the openness, the mystery, and the expanse of the Highlands, with tunes wafting in from time to time across the valleys.

Ivan Emke


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine