KATE IN THE KETTLE – Swimmings Of The Head (own label)

KateInTheKettleThere is a PR guy with whom I have a very good relationship – he sends me records and I write nice things about them. I might have expected him to be handling this one but without wishing to be unkind I have to tell him that he’s really missed out.

The Kate in this particular kettle is Kate Young, the fourth name in Carthy, Hardy, Farrell and Young; formerly of the remarkable world fusion band Ethno In Transit and now also a Moulette. She’s a fiddle-singer and takes that definition to its ultimate expression, using her voice as an instrument as well as a device for conveying a lyric. She’s joined in this band firstly by Marit Fålt who shares the arranging duties and adds another link in the chain of Scottish-Scandinavian musical co-operation. Marit, as you know, plays låt-mandola and with Daniel Moser on bass clarinet and Marti Tårn on bass guitar the instrumentation does have a certain Nordic gloom. The fifth member of the quintet is Victor Solana on tabla, cajon and percussion and you can’t help but think that if Peter Knight could reach those high notes, Gigspanner might sound a bit like this.

Kate brings her Ethno experience to bear quickly with the opening track, ‘Fairy Fiddler/Såb Jon’s Polska’. The lyrics of Nora Hopper’s poem, from which the song is derived, give way to wordless vocalisations that are almost surreal against Solana’s percussion and she really does hit some high notes. The long set, ‘Mammoth/Kissed Her Under The Coverlet/Holi/Tandoori Truchter’, begins in an orthodox folk style but as you can guess from the final title, one of Kate’s own tunes, it goes its own way.

‘Paper Rose’ features Erik Saties’ ‘Trois Gnossiennes No .1’, another haunting and mysterious musical strand fused into Kate’s music, and the record ends with the two singles, ‘Push And Spark’ and ‘Grow Down’, the latter featuring pizzicato violin that evokes the sound of the mbira as does ‘Salmon’. The album title comes from Nicholas Culpeper’s famous herbal. Azalea is recommended to relieve such a condition but I wouldn’t advise you to try it.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: www.kateyoungmusic.com

Official video: ‘Green And Gold’ from Swimmings Of The Head