The origins of the 11-strong Treacherous Orchestra, who are marching down from Scotland brandishing this excellent CD, go back to Perthshire where two young pipers, the incomparable Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton, were greatly inspired by the teachings of Pipe Major Gordon Duncan – “one of the true master composers and instrumentalists of the 20th/21st century… His style flowing from finger to finger trickled down and infused these two young protégés with a style and sense of harmony, rhythm and composition that no one else can claim to possess. His passing away in 2005 left the legacy of his music and his influence will never be forgotten.”
Ross and Ali have brought together [ed: don’t mind that bit – we have left it in because they like it!!] eight Scottish musicians on fiddle, flute, bodhran, accordion and double-bass, plus crashing drums, razor-sharp electric guitar and Éamonn Coyne from the West of Ireland on banjo and tenor guitar. The basis of the Orchestra was clear-cut: a glorious, bubbling cauldron of raw Scottish music, enhanced by the Orchestra’s players/composers and given a massive shot in the arm. Origins does just that, and sticks a big rude tongue out at anyone who mistakenly thinks that folk music from these islands is dying on its feet.
The Orchestra keeps the audience on their toes and wondering which instrument is going to hit next, from March Of The Troutmen (by their fiddler Adam Sutherland) to the piping fury of the traditional Sheepskins Beeswax, Ross’s written Taybank Shenanigans and the wonderful Sea Of Okhotsk (Sutherland again!) Whistle, pipes, accordion, flute and a few choice instruments flow over each other in the simply beautiful Ross composition Easter Island. Percussionist Fraser Stone, bass player Duncan Lyall and guitarist Barry Reid are a pulsating wall of sound, leaving Kevin O’Neill’s flute, Éamonn’s banjo and Innes Watson’s fiddle to dance around the meat of the tune – very, very tasty indeed.
The orchestra climaxes with the 13-minute showstopper Sausages, the 10 musicians flooring pedal to the metal in a glorious melange of wild, roaring, fist-waving original Scottish music. I love it to bits.