Cosmic Ceilidh is the debut album from multi-instrumentalist Steve Brown of Arisaig in the Scottish Highlands. A busy professional live musician since the 1993, the lockdown has given him the time to complete this Broon album, recorded in his Rivendell Studio. Cosmic Ceilidh has a grand, sweeping, landscape-of-sound vibe, that really evokes its Highlands origins.
“It’s really two or three albums in one” says Steve, and suggests it should be filed under World Music, Celtic Fusion and Prog Croft. Steve explains the mix of styles, written over a six-year period, inspired by friends, family and life in the Highlands: “Even though produced over a few years, it’s really come together during lockdown, and the mix of styles represent the gamut of emotions experienced during this period of not being able to gig”.
The artwork, photography and sleeve notes for the CD are beautiful, with Steve pictured in the local landscape as well as posing delightfully as Highland Coo. The sleeve artwork features words from the late Rush percussionist Neil Peart. Steve is a huge fan of Rush, organising an annual fan convention, and thanks to the magic of modern production, Neil also features on three tracks including, ‘The Devil Came Down To Glenuig’, and ‘The Great Unmastered’. There’s a heart-warming message of hope that the music ‘brings a wee smile to your face and puts a spring in your step.’ Other sleeve notes notables are for Go Vegan Scotland and words on social evolution from Rudolph Rocker from Anarcho-Syndacalism, 1938.
On Cosmic Ceilidh, Steve plays mandolin, guitars, bass, piano, accordion and programmed drum loops. Other musicians include John Whyte of Glenfinnan on trombone, Pete Harbidge of New Zealand on cornet and Eoin de Paor of Westmorland on fiddle, whistle, flute and bass.
Listening to this ‘wild aural journey’ of an album from start to finish on a chilly Sunday afternoon, cosy on my sofa with a cuppa, I was drawn into the more mellow tracks. ‘A Timeless Love’ and the closing ‘Slàinthe Mhath’. Steve explains the former – a classical guitar solo piece – was inspired by a friend who has passed, and the latter delicate solo piece, is Scottish Gaelic for “good health” particularly resonates given that health is wealth during these unprecedented times.
Jodie SheBeat Schofield
Artist’s website: www.broon.net