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DUNCAN LYALL - Infinite Reflections

DUNCAN LYALL - Infinite Reflections
Red Deer Records RDRCD1301

I was impressed with bassist Duncan Lyall’s assured and attuned skills as an accompanist on Kate Rusby’s last tour and the excellence of his soundwork has been strikingly evident on albums I have reviewed recently. Now I realise his skills extend to composition and arrangement on a large band scale.

Performed at the last two Celtic Connections and commissioned by the festival for their New Voices series, Duncan describes this project as the soundtrack “to an infinite number of stories” and “a non-existent film”. Presented like a suite with carefully structured movements and reprises, it is clearly the product of a wide and profound musical intelligence.

Arranging and conducting Treacherous Orchestra confrères Ali Hutton (pipes/whistles) and Innes Watson (guitar), Angus Lyon (keyboards/accordion), Martin O’Neill (bodhran), Alyn Cosker (drums) and a feast of fiddle talent, Duncan also plays basses, synths, shruti box and provides programming on the 11 pieces he has composed.

This is progressive contemporary music at its best. Rich in atmosphere and mood, it draws on folk, classical, jazz and wider contemporary composed and modal music. Sounds of the Penguin Café Orchestra, the melodic genius of Pat Metheny’s Map Of The World and Michael Nyman’s mesmerising film scores came to my mind as some of possible sources of inspiration.

The sophisticated sequencing and interplay of the melodies and rhythms is, as with his other production work, rich in nuance and movement, and hypnotic in its hook, catch and pulse. The layering and interplay in the orchestration of the instruments is entirely pleasing. There are passages of tranquil beauty, arresting ambience and soaring dynamic interest. All is so finely calibrated and perfectly composed for cinematic soundscape and concert music.

This is a brilliant example of contemporary Celtic ‘connectivity’ that should be performed at the Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper (Brittany) and other international festivals of both celtic and contemporary music.

Kevin T. Ward


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