Celtarabia – Cult of Audio

Wow! The word ‘programming’ gives it away, this is a spectacular mix of trad and world music with a thumping techno back-beat. Celtarabia are: Quentin Budworth – Hurdy-gurdy, shawm, bag-pipes, low whistle and programming. Amanda Lowe- Vocals, harp, hammer dulcimer, and programming. Celtarabia play high energy world fusion music, a dynamic and complex clash of east meets west, analogue and digital, ancient and modern, in yer face yet subtle. The album features stonking instrumental tracks that force you to get up and dance, and stunning, hypnotic vocals that enchant.

This is the sort of music that will still be ringing in your head at three in the morning after a heady night of stimulants, tribal dancing, sweaty passion and a kebab.

Darren Beech

Artist’s website: http://celtarabia.com/

Bluehorses – Dragons Milk and Coal

This album bays loudly and stampedes the listener with a sound that has been created by the fusion of a classic Rock technique thrust into a delicate layer of traditional folk. Liz Prendergast’s vibrant electric fiddle and gritty vocal control works beautifully on tracks like “Rabbit in the Headlights” and “Dragons, Milk and Coal”. Nic Waulker hammers out the funky drum parts, Rob Khoo keeps it all pinned together with his thumping bass line, while Martyn Standing’s provides trail blazing guitar antics in “Liberty”. Another gem from the album is “Barbara Allen” a high-energy tale of treachery and love with foot stomping fiddle and guitar parts.

The “Mining song”, written straight from the heart is about the 1913 explosion which rocked the tiny town of Senghenydd, to the north of Caerphilly in Wales. The tragedy became know as the Aber Valley/ Senghenydd pit disaster and the explosion, and subsequent release of poisonous gas, killed 439 miners, making it the most lethal and tragic mining disaster in British history. On the morning of Tuesday 14 October 1913, nearly 950 men had been working below ground, one of those men being Lizzie’s Granddad on his last shift.  The chorus of the song, resonates the spirit of the miners echoing voices, calling out, down the tunnels of time.

Every track on the album is a winner and the CD also contains live versions of “Witch in Wedlock” and “Old Haslams Bits” as a bonus.

Darren Beech

Eliza Carthy – Angels & Cigarettes

Interesting concept that explores a yearning for what you can’t have and an addiction for what you shouldn’t have.

Stylistically, the album reflects its title as an emotional melting pot of past and present states.

“Angels & Cigarettes” contains 10 carefully chosen tracks that subtly complement each other – like the opening track “Whispers of Summer”, which has a lovely upbeat feel and happily bobs along with its cheeky fiddle parts – compared to the “Train Song” which gently builds its rhythm to a faint Latin beat.

Eliza has assembled a collection of works that have a modern edge. Some of the most notable highlights are: the seductive night-time jazz backbeat of “Whole”: Van Dyke Parks pedal steel guitar on “Perfect”; and the progressive dance beat of “Breathe” with its undercurrent of piano – and the moment of collision – when breathing stops.

Darren Beech

Artist’s website: http://www.eliza-carthy.com/

Calico – Songdogs

Songdogs is the second album by Irish band Calico and takes its name from the book written by the Dublin-born author Colum McCann.

This album contains ten tracks, seven are original instrumentals, one is an original song and two are contemporary songs.

The new album features a 5-piece line up of Tola Custy (fiddle), Deirdre Moynihan (fiddle, vocals), Diarmaid Moynihan (pipes/ whistles), Donncha Moynihan (guitars) and Pat Marsh (bouzouki).

Songdogs is an outstanding album of scintillating Celtic rhythms mixed with moments of intimate and unspoilt vocal charm. From the haunting pipes of the “Elysian Fields”, the tragic lyric of the “Metal Drums”, to the surprisingly uplifting “Midnight at the Mausoleum”, and the fast paced dexterity of “Hooverville”: which, all-in-all, was definitely our bag.

Darren Beech

Andy Guttridge – Amongst Friends

Andy Guttridge “Amongst Friends” is a fine recording based on light soothing melodies with good guitar and vocal accompaniment sometimes reaching moments of purism.

There is a notable contribution in particular from Ric Sanders playing Zeta Viocello on “I call it Love” and violin on “The Storm” and “Black Shepherd”. The latter two are both powerful anti-whaling songs that chart man’s collision course with his natural world and in this case the “few” that are hell-bent on destroying the last remaining “lords of the deep”.

Andy is amongst some of the best musical friends he could hope to have who have all contributed enormously to the overall ambience of the album. They include, Kevin Dempsey, Chris Leslie, Tom Leary, Jim Bennion, Martin Green, Mark Lee, Neil Clarke and Matt Le Mare to name a few.

Darren Beech