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Trad Records TRAD002 

This is a Belgian/Dutch folk rock quartet, distinctly Celtic inflected, described (on their facebook page) as producing “hot ‘n’ steamy balfolk music for dancing and listening pleasure”. Comprising Stijn van Beek (uilleann pipes, whistles), Kaspar Laval (bouzouki, electric guitar), Toon van Mierlo (uilleann pipes, French pipes, whistles, soprano sax, bombarde) and Jeroen Geerinck (acoustic guitar, bodhrán), their third release presents 12 instrumental pieces, mostly in sets form, composed severally by the first three named.

In 2007, Stijn, apparently “trying to escape Irish traditional music”, ended up at a folkbal in Nijmegen but found “there was no escape” being ensnared by the “haunting sound of the Irish pipes…once again” under Toon’s fingers. From this chance encounter and the subsequent inclusion of the other two “string prodigies”, this doubtless distinctively named group emerged. Over a decade later, having performed all over Europe, this release compellingly captures the spirited essence of their live presence.

Powerfully progressive from the off, this is primarily a puissant and energetic, uptempo folk rock fusion combo, fervent with live feel. Rich in pipes and whistles, often joyfully jousting or deftly duetting in melodic tandem with the tightly rhythmic guitar work, the sophisticated percussion chassis is often funky and syncopated with some tricksy time signatures adding to its toe tapping temptingness! Sound effects are judiciously deployed to add atmosphere and edge, with the electric guitar often having some hefty effects, and there is ample variety in the dynamic warp and weft across the compositions. Voila, the European Summer festival feel encapsulated.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 127 of The Living Tradition magazine.