Sleeper - Kan

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Sleeper - Kan

1 CD(s) - Folk - Label: Kan Music - Distributor: Proper - Released: 30/04/2012 - 793573089793

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80% positive

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Review of "Sleeper - Kan"

published 14/05/2016 | 2mennycds
Member since : 28/08/2015
Reviews : 287
Members who trust : 72
About me :
Best wishes to all, and thanks for your kind rates and comments, have been half-expecting the latest announcement for at least the last year. Have thoroughly enjoyed being a member over the last couple of years or so.
Super
Pro Lovely playing, changes of pace and mood, great intro to Celtic instrumental
Cons Genre won't appeal to all
exceptional
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money
Lyrics

"You Kan't get much better than this!"

Sleeper - Kan

Sleeper - Kan


I first came across the fabulous flute and whistle playing of Brian Finnegan at a Cara Dillon gig (he was part of her band on the tour). I think he was selling his own CDs at the event and was annoyed with myself later for not buying one and asking the great man to autograph it, but there you go. I bought it – “The Ravishing Genius Of Bones” – a while later and fell in love with it. I strongly recommend it.

Some time later I bought this album that features him and some other folk luminaries!

Note that I had to tick a box for lyrics and for comparison with this band's other releases - minor gripe, it's just that neither is relevant.


Who?

Kan consisted of:

Brian Finnegan: flute, high and low whistles. A fabulous player!

Aidan O’Rourke: fiddle. An eminent Scottish player.

Ian Stephenson: guitar, bass, mandolin, piano. Ian Stephenson won the BBC Young Folk Award back in 1999.

Jim Goodwin: percussion.


As so often in the folk music world, the niche nature of the music makes it hard to earn a living and the various members perform and record in other collaborations or as members of other people’s bands. At present they are not performing or recording together and have no plans to do so at present. This was the only album released by the band.


The album

The album comes in the increasingly used (but to me infuriating, as I like to keep my CDs in good condition!) card packaging. It has a number of mysterious illustrations and contains sparse information other than a slightly convoluted explanation of the album’s title. A slight pity, but it was evidently a low budget production. I’d just have preferred a bit more information and an illustration or two less.

It contains 8 tracks and plays for about 47.5 minutes.

Although very authentic in sound, the bulk of the material is composed by one or other of the musicians on the album.


The tracks


General comments

I do struggle to review instrumental albums! There are no lyrics to comment on, and it’s hard to describe the sound of a tune and to comment on a number of tracks that all have a similar sound (though, hopefully, they are far from identical!)

Rather than repeat myself too much I’ll start with a few overall comments on this album.

One thing I like about this album is that it is so obviously a collaboration of equals. Never do I feel that one performer is playing “second fiddle” – in fact there is only one fiddle player, so sorry for the dreadful pun! The point is that nobody steals the limelight or lurks in the shadows, nobody seeks to out-perform his fellow musicians.

I love the combination of sounds. I really like folk fiddle. I find it a really soulful instrument, capable of breaking my heart or making it soar. I love flute and whistles for the same reason, their “breathy” sound at times and the way that a top player can slur or trill notes. Put the two instruments together (in capable hands of course!) and, to me, the result is quite magical.

This album is a classic case in point. The two instruments sound as if they were made for each other. Each is very expressive, yet each has its own distinct sound and “feel”. When playing in unison, the sound of each instrument can be picked out even though they are playing the same notes. When playing in harmony the effect is gorgeous.


Ian Stephenson is a very adept English guitar player. I like the way that he can provide a driving rhythm with his chord work (essential to Celtic music!) yet also provide a delicate fingerpicked introduction or harmony. At times – though this isn’t unique to him – his rhythm playing has a quite funky sound, with some notes or chords played off the beat.


The percussion is slightly unusual on this album. On such a small line-up I would have expected a bodhran, one of those hand-held Irish drums that is beaten with the fingers or a double-ended stick. Instead we have a wider ranging percussion. It’s well-balanced volume-wise on the album but I like the fuller and more varied sound that it adds.


I like the way that the tracks have varied moods and feels. Some are slow and contemplative, others evoke images of Irish dancing (I’m afraid that the closes I come to this is tapping my feet or tapping my fingers on my knee!) I also like the tracks that have a change of pace part way through.


I’m no expert on instruments and at times I find it hard to distinguish the sound of a flute from a low whistle. Rather than make any embarrassing howlers in this review or make repeated confessions of ignorance in this matter, I’ll use Brian’s name when referring to his playing.


No clue is given to the origins of the track titles. Often in folk instrumental music these have little or no significance. They may be the result of a chance remark in the pub one Saturday night, or some in-joke, anecdote, or occasion shared by the musicians. Sometimes a name is latched onto almost at random. So don’t waste time trying to work out why this or that tune has the title it has!

’Nuff said in general terms. Here are some thoughts on the individual tracks...

One Two Three

I like the light drum introduction to this and, soon after, Brian comes in. He plays a lilting and, to me, uplifting tune embellished by some delightful trilled notes. His melody is picked up by the fiddle, the two instruments playing in unison, but the guitar and drums aren’t drowned out. The interplay between Brian and Aidan O’Rourke’s fiddle is beautifully done, and I love Brian’s sweet playing at the end.

One of my favourite tracks, and a great start to the album.

Mangattakk

The fiddle starts this one off, with percussion, soon joined by BF. The beginning of the tune has a mysterious sound to it, not as melodic as some tunes, but striking nevertheless.

This track is taken from a live recording, and there’s some enthusiastic applause as the next section begins, with some fabulous Aidan O’Rourke/Brian Finnegan interplay, propelled by guitar and drums.

I really like the various sections of the tune and its changes of mood and pace.

Marcos

This tune is quite up-tempo and Brian plays some gorgeous, lilting notes. This is one of the tunes where Ian Stephenson’s guitar playing has the slightly funky sound that I mentioned above, and that I think adds a lot to the feel of the tune. Later the tune takes on a more intense pace – great!

Noble?

This slower tune has a nice guitar introduction with the fiddle playing long, sustained notes, and continues in this vein Brian Finnegan brings in the tune proper.

I find this one particularly sweet and uplifting.

Part way through the fiddle picks up the pace, accompanied by the chord-playing of the guitar. There is a part where Aidan O’Rourke plucks his fiddle strings rather than bowing them, which gives a slight funkiness to the sound.

Eva

There’s some slow and, to me, beautiful and haunting playing by Brian on this one, and some lovely interplay between his playing and Aidan O’Rourke’s fiddle. I like the way that the guitar and percussion add to the sound without intruding on it.

Rangoon

This is a faster paced one. Get kicking with those lower limbs but keep your hands close to your sides when the second section kicks in! I like the adept rhythm guitar and percussion on this that holds it all together and, again the interweaving of Brian and Aidan’s playing.

Modul1

A slow and measured guitar introduction start this one off (appropriately ,as it is an Ian Stephenson composition). Then guitar and fiddle play the tune, soon to be joined by Brian Finnegan. The different sounds of the three instruments blend beautifully, but distinctively, I think, without quite melding into one combined sound.

Just when you think you know where the tune will continue to go, a second tune kicks in.

Coriolis

Aidan begins this one on solo fiddle, soon to be joined by Brian. I love the tune of this one, and, again the texture of the two instruments and the way the guitar leads into the second tune that the track consists of.


Concluding remarks

I think this makes a fine introduction to “Celtic” instrumental music. It embraces a range of moods and tempos and contains some superb quality playing.

I’d rate it 4 stars (bordering on 4.5). It’s a fine album but my own rating rationale is that a 5-star rating needs either consistent appeal from start to finish (though I don’t have many CDs on which I love every track, to be honest) OR generally strong with one or two tracks that blow me away. Don’t get me wrong, I really do like this album, it just doesn’t quite wow me – but it does delight me!

It’s currently available from Amazon for £11.82 or from just under £10 from their Marketplace (new hard copy), £6.32 for MP3. Call me soft, or daft (even both!), but I do like to support specialist outlets. Codamusic.co.uk are one such for acoustic music, and offer a great range and a good level of service. They are offering this album (new hard copy) for £11.99.


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Comments on this review

  • IzzyS published 30/01/2017
    Well reviewed.
  • euphie published 22/05/2016
    e :o)
  • Mistybrook published 20/05/2016
    E :)
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Product Information : Sleeper - Kan

Manufacturer's product description

1 CD(s) - Folk - Label: Kan Music - Distributor: Proper - Released: 30/04/2012 - 793573089793

Product Details

EAN: 793573089793

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