Stirling Observer ‘Origins’ Review (and a half!!)

marty press, review

Stirling Observer logoTreacherous Orchestra
(Navigator Records)

Stirling Observer, Friday, March 30, 2012

THERE are lots of great folk albums out there produced by both solo artists and groups and lots of ways to describe them: accomplished, moving, toetapping, vibrant.

How many of them, though, ever genuinely deserve the accolade “exciting”?

The debut album by this Scottish supergroup (including bass player Duncan Lyall from Dunblane) is certainly that though – and so much more.

Hardly the first folk outfit to shake things up a bit they are surely one of the most convincing, with not one note of the rock or electronic dance stylings accompanying the folk sounding out of place or tacked on as some kind of cheap commercial sop.

This is a fully realised, wonderfully polished work from a dozen gifted musicians (plus guests) confident in their tradition and confident in where they want to take it.

You could say it pushes at the boundaries except that that would suggest a degree of striving that just doesn’t seem to apply to such a seamless, flowing album.

The best thing you can probably say is that the hour’s worth of music it provides just doesn’t seem enough, though it certainly covers all the bases.

March of the Troutsmen by fiddle player Adam Sutherland is dramatic and insistent without being overbearing, while flautist Kevin O’Neill provides something truly beautiful on tune mix Superfly, a piece that morphs into a jazzy, dizzying confection guaranteed to make you smile.

Piper Ross Ainslie, meanwhile, provides what, live, is surely the spine-tingling, hairs-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck, lighters aloft moment onEaster Island.

And that’s just a few selected from an album bursting with highs.

With real clarity and overwhelming positivity Treacherous Orchestra may well have produced what turns out to be one of the best Scottish albums of the year.

Truly, there just aren’t enough good things to say about it.