SLOW MOVING CLOUDS – Starfall (own label SMC003)

StarfallDublin based trio Slow Moving Clouds blend Irish and Nordic traditions with modern techniques and influences to make music that might be described as “ambient” except for the fact that it’s too interesting. SMC comprises cellist Kevin Murphy who doubles on bass and Marxophone; Danny Diamond on fiddle and Aki on nyckelharpa and mbira although from which of the Nordic states that originates I’m not sure. Starfall is their second album.

This is definitely a sitting-down record. You will need to concentrate so don’t try to drive along the motorway with it playing. In the centre are four traditional tracks and ‘Ash Plant’ and ‘Downfall Of Paris’ sound traditional but by the time they reach ‘Droghedy’ the distinction between traditional and original is beginning to blur.

The mbira is the first instrument we hear opening ‘First Breath’. It feels like raindrops falling on a pavement then Danny picks up a melody while the thumb piano holds the rhythm before emerging again from a welter of wordless vocals. The only problem is that it’s far too short and I was really getting into it when it ended. ‘Under The City’ is rather more complex with the band’s typical high vocals and orchestral scale strings

I particularly like the driving, and occasionally discordant, ‘Muunos’, which is followed by the relatively conventional ‘Drops’, essentially a simple melody with lots of variations thrown in as the basic tune is regularly brought to the surface in different guises. The closing ‘Swansong/Starfall’ harks back to the psychedelic sixties although the band are obviously too young to remember the time. The vocals come down from their extreme falsetto although there are only three words in ‘Swansong’ and only a few more in ‘Starfall’.

Starfall is an intriguing album. Sometimes it lulls you into a reverie and then unexpectedly drags you back to reality with a shock. After a few plays I’m finding my way.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Trin’ – official video: