Northern Lights

 

Dubh agus Geal – Darkness and Light Claddagh Records****

It’s refreshing to hear musicians explore the crosscurrents that might have influenced (and clearly are now influencing) traditional music, particularly when those tidal patterns extend to Scandinavia. Sean-nós singer Lorcán MacMathúna has a deeply expressive voice that readily entwines itself in the syllables and rhythms of a song. His band mates (Belgian hardanger fiddle player, piper and jewsharpist Raphael de Cock, and piper, whistle and flute player James Mahon) feast on both shared and complementary repertoire here, which is at its most exotic on Sven in the Rosegarden, based on a Swedish murder ballad. The highly charged harmonies are at times monastic in their bare settings, while at others the stark contrast of pipes, fiddle and voice render the music deeply meditative. The Chicken’s Lipexplores the lilting and lalling traditions of Ireland and Sweden to spectacular effect. A bol ride into uncharted terrain. See lorcanmacmathuna. com/northernlights