THE TWISTED TWENTY – The Twisted Twenty (Penny Fiddle Records)

Twisted TwentyThe Twisted Twenty are a septet of string players whom I suspect to be proper musicians. What makes then unique is their use of baroque instruments and their research in music of the 17th and 18th century. So what? I hear you say. Well, instruments of the period have a distinctively different timbre from modern instruments and when you have three fiddles, cello, double bass and cittern all of the period you have a very special sound. And before you start reading the sleeve notes and arguing, the bodhran probably originated in the 17th century in Ireland but the form is undoubtedly much older.

The material here is what we would call “traditional” but The Twisted Twenty go deeper. Five of the tunes come from James Oswald, court composer to George III, including his setting of one of two songs, Burns’ ‘John Anderson, My Jo’ and the saucy ‘She’s Sweetest When She’s Naked’, which I obviously missed when Blazin’ Fiddles recorded it. The other song is ‘The Three Ravens’, a setting by Thomas Ravenscroft who apparently collected ‘Three Blind Mice’.

An oddity is ‘Arthur McBride’ arranged as an instrumental by the band’s electronics specialist, Alexis Bennett. The modern sounds are restricted to some deep rumblings and the, presumably sampled, sounds of the sea. Lucia Capellaro’s cello gets a big part here.

The Twisted Twenty’s debut is enjoyable although rather short at only eight tracks. There are a couple of hidden minutes at the end, though. I thought I told you to stop this sort of thing.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Fáilte Na Míosa’