Creativity in traditional music, the pushing of boundaries and the creation of new rhythms and melodies is an essential part of the onward development of the tradition. It’s a direction that will never threaten the pure drop or the exploration of our back catalogue.  However new music is very much needed and this project headed up by Jack Talty and Neil Ó Loghlen most definitely fulfills that criteria. As one of Ireland's most accomplished concertina players Jack Talty would be best known for his 2011 album Na Fir Bolg with Cormac Begley.  He also works in production and recording at his own studio in Clare.  His skills as both producer and musician, combined with Neil's world music vision make possible the creation of an album such as this. It’s a suite of 6 tracks, one of which is a vocal number.  It is contemporary traditional music with some of the tracks stretching to 9 minutes.

The opening track Jurna is one such number that weaves a tapestry of rhythms and beats with bass and marimba leading us into one of the best contemporary tracks I have heard of late. The second track April follows a more recognised introduction with Jack Talty's concertina finding its way through a simmering soundscape of piano and flute accompaniment.  Short interludes let the melody hang in mid air before it finds its natural traditional home once again.  A second interlude with guitar and clarinet stretches the track even further before in resolves its musical intent. The artists say they "are drawing on the hypnotic repetition of minimalism and the organic improvisatory spirit of jazz" to create their sound and within that well of inspiration they take us on a journey. They are not so much reinventing the musical wheel as dispensing with it to see can their music float in a less structured environment.  Although inspired by these other genres they still retain their traditional Irish roots.  Caoineadh de Lenabh Marabh leading into Tírdhreach Garbh and then Bobby Casey’s starts our as a more jazz inspired number with plaintive clarinet and snare drums following a slow meandering melody that at times seeks to break away from the chains of grief that it represents.  Five minutes in, concertina and bass create a call and answer repetition of bars that builds and closes out the track.  The one vocal number is Seachrán Sí sung by Saileog Ní Cheannabháin and again it is exploratory and questioning of normal structures.  Ensemble Ériu is an outstanding piece of visionary work that is very accessible despite its jazz and minimalist improvisational inspirations. Like an explorer sending back sounds from the edges of our galaxy Ensemble Ériu are sending back sounds from the outer edges of our tradition.  They are asking you to come and listen with them. For your money you will get the year's best modern contemporary traditional album without a shadow of a doubt.

Visit Ensemble Ériu's Website to purchase : ensembleeriu.com

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