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ROSS & ALI - Symbiosis II

ROSS & ALI - Symbiosis II
Symbiosis Records SYMCD001

A second dose of new tunes from multi-instrumentalists Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton: their Symbiosis album was released a year or two ago, varied duets accompanied by a few expert friends, and the same formula is used here with great success. Guitar and cittern, whistle and pipes, plus a full backing band as required, make Symbiosis II an exciting and entertaining CD. It opens with Kings, a pair of catchy Ainslie compositions with a sparse modern dance arrangement, and continues with the gentler Birds by Hutton which builds to a powerful finish. All the music here is written by Ross and Ali, with the exception of the Tommy Peoples air, Beautiful Goretree, which fully justifies its name and its place on this recording.

Fast reels alternate with slow jigs, or slow reels and fast jigs in the case of Hutton's Meerkat Love and Ainslie's Mad Mick's. There's more than a touch of electronica in places, and string harmonies as well as guitar and percussion, but nothing is over-polished: the sound is immediate, warm, engaging rather than overwhelming. The final Grandad's medley is a perfect example, stripped back to solo pipes at one point, starting as a slow march, then a whistle duet 3/2, adding the pipes back in, plenty of percussion and punchy guitar, an urgent beat that pulls you in and whirls you round and makes you part of this pulsating new music. Symbiosis II is another instant winner, to be savoured at the end of a wild night. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.