CORMAC BYRNE & ADAM SUMMERHAYES – Stone Soup (Nimbus NI6373)

Stone SoupThe joke about Stone Soup is that it’s the art of making something from nothing or, alternatively, throwing everything you can scrounge into the pot. Cormac Byrne and Adam Summerhayes take the latter course listing junk shop fiddle and a metal bucket amongst the instruments employed. Cormac, is of course, the go-to percussionist about the folk scene while Adam is a violinist equally at home in an orchestra or chamber group as with a rocking folk band. Both are members of the recently formed Dodo Street.

As Cormac explains in his notes they could have made an album of fiddle and bodhran but where would be the excitement in that? The only track that fits that bill is ‘Moving: Part 1’ and perhaps ‘Awakening: Part 2’ but that adds birdsong. I should explain that the nine tracks share just three titles: ‘Arising’, ‘Moving’ and ‘Awakening’.  Other exotics include marimbula (a bass instrument that looks like a big thumb piano), berimbau (a single string bow that is more percussive that melodic), foot pandeiro (a South American tambourine) and varieties of shakers and other things to bang together. Quite how Cormac plays slide bodhran I don’t know but play it he does.

They describe their music as falling between composition and improvisation. It was recorded live and very quickly with little time for reflection and consideration. That immediacy leaps out at you from the off and you can feel the excitement of two musicians playing together without quite knowing what the result will be. In fact, the result is pretty awesome. I won’t detail the tracks except to say that ‘Awakening: Part 1’ is a fifteen minute epic and ‘Awakening: Part 2’ is one of the most sublime and soothing pieces of music you’ll hear this year. Buy, beg or borrow a copy but hear it you must.

Dai Jeffries

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‘Arising: Part 3’: