Thursday August 18, 2005
by Simon Jones
Yep, I know it's got a cow on the cover, but Croftwork is intelligence and daring wrapped in an Aladdin's Cave of possibilities. No bull. If Shooglenifty are Scots fusion pushing into wider world styles, then Peatbog Faeries are happy to be Scots pushing their own style into the wide world. Got the difference? Good, because it's crucial to understanding the potential of the Skye mavericks.
Welcome to Dunvegas was their calling card left politely, this one hammers the message through the front door and down the hallway. Here Adam Sutherland and Peter Morrison - in particular - piper and fiddler respectively, have hit stride and stir the same demons as Moving Hearts did with the genius of The Storm; that is, put simply, a compelling, haunting, danceable spree that makes no apologies for roots, indeed, would not and could not exist without them so shouts it loudly from the rooftops.
Whilst one or two of the titles may be a bit tongue in cheek, for instance Scots on the Rocks, there is nothing apologetic about the music which runs some eleven tracks, from hi-tech drizzle reeling to plaintive electronic airs. Peppered with a horn section that comes straight out of The Commitments, there is pretty much no stone left unturned in their race to recreate the Caledonian soul. The opening track comes on like a Battlefield Band lift, until the cavalry arrives in the shape of huge granite rhythms and honking brass riding a funk groove. If only James Brown had been born in Portree! There are moments too of jazzy ambience: Weakened wheels and circles in cascading spirals, the horns once more punctuating the forest of samples and loops. The title track picks up similar ideas to the late lamented Martyn Bennett, while When The Seahound Left Me could have come fresh from a Nathan Hines album before surging into a plaintive fiddle led lament. Other such glories flood rather than pepper the rest of an album that's almost taken up residence in the stereo. Your home will be the poorer for not owning this joyful, playful, energetic wonder.
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