Getting back to basics with Ímar on their outstanding new album 'Afterlight'

There are many reasons to be excited about new Glasgow-based five-piece Ímar – not least a line-up featuring current and former members of Mànran, RURA, Talisk, Barrule, Cara, Mabon and The Lowground, whose collectively crammed trophy-cabinet includes a BBC Young Folk Award and several All-Britain/All-Ireland titles. By far the best and biggest reason, however, is how excited the band are themselves.

Today we are delighted to add their latest album ‘Afterlight’ to our news blog and to include the album in our Download Centre where broadcasters can download it for free.

On the band’s website they provide a detailed background to their music: “As soon as we all sat down to play together properly, it just worked,” says bodhrán player Adam Brown (RURA), originally from Suffolk. “We were a bit stunned, to be honest; all looking round at everyone else, thinking, ‘Is it just me, or was that really good?”

“It’s definitely more of a pure-drop trad sound than most of the other bands we’re involved in,” adds Cork-born uilleann piper, flautist and whistle player Ryan Murphy (Mànran), “but I think that’s partly why it feels so natural. We’re going back to the music we started out playing – which is ultimately the reason why we’re all here as musicians.”

Ímar’s formation also embodies a more personal reconnection with its members’ formative years, dating back long before their recent camaraderie around Glasgow’s justly celebrated session scene. All five of them – also including fiddler Tomás Callister and bouzouki ace Adam Rhodes (Barrule/Mabon), both from the Isle of Man, plus Glasgow native Mohsen Amini (Talisk) on concertina – originally met as teenagers through Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the Irish traditional music network that tutors budding players throughout the British Isles and beyond, and stages the annual schedule of Fleadh competitions.

It was via the latter that Ímar’s paths first crossed, as its future members began to amass what’s now a heavyweight collective haul of top prizes – nine All-Ireland and eight All-Britain titles between them – while Murphy is also a double winner of the prestigious Oireachtas contest. Bringing the tally of accolades up to date, Amini won the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award with Talisk, as well as a Danny Kyle Open Stage Award at the Celtic Connections festival, and is also a BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year finalist in 2016. Just last December, meanwhile, Brown celebrated RURA’s crowning as Live Act of the Year, at the 2015 Scots Trad Music Awards.

“We all have a really strong shared background in Irish music – even though we all live in Glasgow, and only Ryan’s actually from Ireland,” Brown says. These foundations underpin many of Ímar’s distinctive qualities, in both instrumentation and material, while also highlighting the cyclical evolution of Scotland’s wider folk scene. Go back a couple of decades or so, and Irish repertoire still predominated at many Scottish sessions and gigs, whereas today Ímar’s sound stands out boldly from the crowd.

“You won’t often hear anyone in Glasgow playing slides and polkas,” Brown points out, “but even in the very first sets we put together, that’s what we naturally gravitated towards.”

“One of the things I really like is not worrying about how to make ourselves sound ‘different’ – ‘modern’ or ‘poppy’ or whatever – in order to get noticed,” adds Brown. “All of the other bands that we have been involved with have that element to them, and it’s great, but with Ímar we are kind of going back to basics – which is different in itself these days. In a way, sometimes it’s easier to get people’s attention by doing something a bit weird, whereas properly nailing a set of good tunes, really well, is actually pretty hard.” And all the more so when you’re playing at the level that these five virtuosos have reached, as Amini observes: “This is one band where you definitely have to be on your game.”

According to Murphy, listeners so far have welcomed Ímar’s straight-ahead approach as a refreshing change. “Our feeling is that you don’t have to get mathematical or complicated to sound interesting,” he says. “One of the people we’ve played the tracks to actually said, ‘Great! I don’t have to sit here and count it – I can just relax and tap my feet.” Source : www.imarband.com

Afterlight is now available to purchase and download from their website www.imarband.com.

If you are a radio broadcaster you can download the album for free from Tradconnect. Contact us for details.

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Comment by Bruce Cameron on March 22, 2018 at 1:31

Downloaded album for airplay on 'Come All Ye'.  Impressive CD.  Thanks from Australia.

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