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Appel Rekords APR1347

Imagine, if you will, an Irish session floating through The Netherlands, fuelled by a mixture of Jenever and Guinness, gradually picking up Dutch, Belgian and other influences and perhaps entering a surreal trancelike state. Or imagine one of those vampire dolls from Barbarella with tiger ears and cloven hooves. Both of these bear some resemblance to this CD. My main reason for reviewing Hot Griselda was the involvement of uilleann piping ace Stijn Van Beek and it is perhaps Stijn's combination of Celtic and Germanic music which best defines this group. There are hints of Lúnasa, Guidewires, At First Light and other pipes-led eclectics, but also a strong element of French and Low Countries traditions as adapted by Bleizi Ruz, Ti Jaz, Le Gop, Dédale or even Blowzabella. Raw, earthy, visceral, elemental: Hot Griselda's music is all these things and more. Plus there's plenty of it - 63 minutes on this their second recording.

Much of Hot Griselda's material is written by Stijn or by fellow piper and bandmate Toon van Mierlo. The quartet is completed by another piper, Kaspar Laval, who mostly plays guitars, and by Jeroen Geerinck who mixes guitars and percussion. There's sax, accordion and wind synth in the mix too. All four members also earn composing credits. Each set of tunes (normally two or three to a track) corresponds to a dance rhythm: jig, reel, waltz, mazurka and a couple of Breton rhythms. The only exception is the slow air Las Palmas, which I think is played on Spanish gaita. The frenzied pace of primal dance music gives way to a gentler groove on The Empress, but Stijn's pipes are soon weaving their complex web again. Blame It On The Chili, a long-overdue name, is apparently written in a Breton rhythm but sounds very Balkan to me. The Spanish flavour comes back on Taxi Home and the final Alborada De L'Empanada, which also has touches of Balkan piping. Overall, Meow follows the mix-and-match approach of modern piping, fitting tunes from one tradition onto instruments from another and generally showing that today's young pipers can do pretty much anything - whether they're Irish, Scottish, French, or in this case Dutch. Hot Griselda are definitely worth a listen, and their website will give you some idea of what to expect.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.