If you wish for an exemplar of the adage that less is more look no further than Tricks Of The Trade, the debut album from the duo of John Dipper and Dave Malkin. John is a maker and restorer of concertinas which may surprise those who know him only as a player of instruments of the bow and string persuasion with, for example, Methera. His trade goes some way to explaining the cover picture and the title which in full should be “don’t learn the tricks of the trade, learn the trade”. Dave is a singer and guitarist – a fine soloist and a remarkable accompanist.
Dave plays just guitar on this album whilst John plays only viola d’amore in a tuning variation of his own which can give the music a very baroque feel or sound like a regular fiddle. There are just two guest appearances. Tom Dennis plays flugelhorn on one track and Corrie Dick adds percussion to two, the latter being foot percussion on a set topped and tailed by two Quebecois tunes.
The opening track is ‘Wine & Women’, a triple-time hornpipe in which the two instruments duet on equal terms with each one taking it in turns to be the “leader”. That’s followed by the rather gloomy ‘King Storm’ sung as a lullaby over pizzicato viola d’amore and paired with a Playford tune, ‘Daniel Cowper’ which is where the flugelhorn comes in. ‘The King Of Poland’ is technically a jig, and the expected rhythm emerges from time to time although you probably wouldn’t want to dance to it.
‘Gravity’ and ‘Flower Of Kent’ are two of John’s tunes, the latter being given a particularly involved setting. The second song is ‘All Things Are Quite Silent’ which manages to keep the pastoral simplicity of the piece despite a rich accompaniment and finally we have Dave’s extensive rewrite of ‘The Parting Glass’ with a few modern twists. Tricks Of The Trade is an album of stunning musicianship without a single dull note.
Artists’ website: www.dippermalkin.com
‘Gravity’ live at the South Bank Centre: