World/folk

Wild Goats & Un­mar­ried Women She’Koyokh River­boat/Fuse The Gloam­ing The Gloam­ing Real World/Planet

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

VI­O­LIN play­ing and ar­rang­ing of star­tling lu­mi­nos­ity unite starkly con­trast­ing new re­leases that seem des­tined to pep­per the “best of” com­pi­la­tions of folk and world mu­sic afi­ciona­dos when lists are drafted at year’s end. The award-win­ning fid­dle skills of Meg Hamil­ton and equally gifted col­leagues has es­tab­lished She’Koyokh among the finest klezmer en­sem­bles on the planet and ren­dered the 15 tracks of Wild Goats &

Un­mar­ried Women one of the most strik­ing au­ral ex­pe­ri­ences in a month of sab­baths. Kalei­do­scopic ar­range­ments per­me­ate the Bri­tish-based band’s splen­didly ti­tled third al­bum, yield­ing an east Euro­pean mu­si­cal odyssey of verve, va­ri­ety and vir­tu­os­ity. By con­trast, the jour­ney of­fered by 10 tracks in

The Gloam­ing, the epony­mous de­but al­bum of a new US-based Ir­ish-Amer­i­can supergroup, is com­par­a­tively se­date. Yet its blend­ing of an­ces­tral Celtic mu­sic with con­tem­po­rary acous­tic scene mo­tifs and tex­tures is in­her­ently more in­no­va­tive. Violinist Martin Hayes is re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing much of the light and shade that suf­fuses a beau­ti­fully con­trast­ing and sub­tle set. It is the in­com­pa­ra­ble County Clare-in­formed fid­dle play­ing of this six times All-Ire­land cham­pion, adroitly backed by long-time as­so­ciate Den­nis Cahill’s com­pelling gui­tar chords and pro­ducer Thomas Bartlett’s lithe piano lines, that also pro­vides the al­bum’s dra­matic peaks, ex­em­pli­fied by cor­ner­stone seven-minute and 16-minute med­leys of tra­di­tional pieces that build mes­meris­ingly from sim­ple be­gin­nings to full-blown Celtic reel and jig, in the lat­ter case via Mid­dle East­ern and In­dian modal­i­ties and jazzy rhyth­mic un­der­cur­rents. Ear­lier poem songs, fea­tur­ing the ex­quis­ite sean-nos (old style) Gaelic singing of the Afro Celt Sound Sys­tem’s Iarla O Lion­aird, are haunt­ingly ethe­real. Like the afore­men­tioned epics, they gather mo­men­tum al­most im­per­cep­ti­bly un­der Hayes’s ed­u­cated vi­o­lin and the more ro­bust hardan­ger (Nor­we­gian fid­dle) of Caoimhin O Raghal­laigh. Dis­play­ing chutz­pah ac­crued dur­ing its busk­ing ori­gins on the streets of Lon­don, She’Koyokh flaunts the full range of flam­boy­ant Jewish wed­ding mu­sic, Gypsy tunes and Balkan bal­ladry in Wild Goats

& Un­mar­ried Women. Vir­tu­osic vi­o­lin and clar­inet lock in thrilling uni­son or al­ter­nate light­ing lead runs in cul­ture-hop­ping med­leys, Bul­gar­ian and Ro­ma­nian romps and slower­build­ing Greek num­bers. Hamil­ton’s fid­dle runs hot over two-to-the-bar Hot Club of Frances­tyled gui­tar chord changes. A Mol­da­vian dance tune is il­lu­mi­nated by Matt Ba­con’s slick Django-es­que solo­ing and Zivo­rad Nikolic’s amaz­ing ac­cor­dion ac­ro­bat­ics. Susi Evans’s clar­inet chops and Cig­dem As­lan’s vo­cals hyp­no­tise in a more se­date Kur­dish song. Fla­menco-in­spired gui­tar, In­dian-in­flected vi­o­lin and wheezy squeeze­box pref­ace As­lan’s equally soul­ful singing in sad Sephardic, Greek and Bos­nian love bal­lads. Ben Sa­muels’s man­dolin tremolo sets up dou­ble bass­man Paul Tkachenko’s gut­tural vo­cals in a waltz. In a Bul­gar­ian horo (dance tune) and Ser­bian cir­cle dance Tkachenko’s tuba pro­vides a bass throb for fly­ing lead fin­gers and fid­dle-bow­ing bril­liance. Vasilis Sarikis’s per­cus­sion per­co­lates in a Turk­ish goat-herd­ing eu­logy.

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