I’m sure it wasn’t Marie Fielding’s intention to give us an album to cheer us up in these dark times but reading her notes it does seem that she was searching for positivity in the making of The Spectrum Project. I would say that she has succeeded admirably. This record of ten instrumental pieces is one I would happily play in the garden on a sunny afternoon although I can’t speak for the reaction of my neighbours if I did.
As well as being a fiddle player – she uses a 5-string and a Hardanger as well as the standard model – Marie is a composer and tutor, painter and photographer. That’s her work on the cover and it’s the drawing together of all her talents that makes the album what it is. There seems to be a trend for musicians to enter the studio with a framework of the music and then let things flow and Marie has done that, accepting ideas from two of her supporters, Tom Orr and Luc D McNally but producing and mixing the record herself, keeping control until the very last minute.
All but two of the tracks were composed by Marie and most follow the recognisable structure of Scottish traditional music. The exceptions are the opening track ‘Spectrum’ which begins with Orr’s harmonium, almost as a lament, and the closing ‘Spectrum Outro’ which revisits it in a slightly less gloomy fashion. From there we go via ‘Mayo 2 Manchester’, a nod to Marie’s Irish ancestry to ‘Aran Islands’, a set which sounds nautical without any specific references.
The first of the covers is the gorgeous ‘Brattfors I Brunt’ reworked from Marie’s first album with Tom’s piano given a leading role. The second non-original set is ‘Captain MacDuff’s’: one tune by Niel Gow and one by Daniel Dow exhibiting their stately 18th century splendour. In between we have the bouncy ‘Connemara Reel’, the sweet and gentle ‘Gracie’s Lullaby’ and the almost funky ‘Queensferry Crossing’, not to mention the set of jigs glorying in the title ‘Muriel’s Oatcakes’.
To reiterate my opening remarks, The Spectrum Project is a record that will cheer you up and that is very welcome.
Artist’s website: www.mariefieldingmusic.com
‘Captain McDuff’s’ – live with a recalcitrant microphone: