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Routes Records RQCD001

Someone said to me recently (a quote, no doubt) that the string quartet was a perfection of four instruments being played together. A noble claim, although questionable. However, here is a quartet, each musician well attuned to each other, playing intimately, producing sounds which would be a joy to hear live - the scent of the timbers of the fiddles, all of them, vibrating and resonating in such an atmospheric location as the Morvern peninsula, would be a treat to imbibe. This is where the CD was recorded. There are old drove roads and coffin roads – tracks winding across the rocky terrain with otters playing below and sea-eagles mewling from the high crags. I’ve been there. The sounds created by this band thoroughly reflect this lonesome landscape.

The selection of material, progressing a theme to a more complete exposition of an idea, seems to be lacking on some of the tracks, and Kathryn Tickell’s Fenham is frankly disappointing. Having said that, the band’s composition (Tricia Mullan) The Gentleman’s Farewell is delightful, creating opportunities for innovative drones and exquisite harmonies. The CD lacks sleeve notes, which is frustrating, although a brief description of the sets can be found on the web.

This would be a good CD for backing a film or two, perhaps, but a review by the band of what material they are generating and combining should lead to more exciting stuff in the future. They’ve certainly got the capability and it is a delight that a string quartet is working traditional music.

C.John Edwards

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This album was reviewed in Issue 121 of The Living Tradition magazine.