Drowsy Maggie – Nú Trad (2017) Review

The coolest thing about working for CeltCast is that you never know where you will end up next! By now I’ve discovered some lovely local festivals that have become regulars on my musical calendar. The latest one on this list is Folkerdey. A really cool, cozy folk festival in Ratingen, Germany. It started out as an idea by 2 members of the folk band Drowsy Maggie and two youth centers in the city of Ratingen and is heading towards its 14th edition next year.
In 2019 it featured folk bands like Stout, Wait For June and Sunfire, the pop-folk hurdy gurdy player Patty Gurdy and, as the headliner, the Irish folk band Drowsy Maggie. Never heard of them? Well, that is about to change. Their performance at Folkerdey was so good I found myself buying their CD the minute the show ended and it did not disappoint! Nú Trad is filled with upbeat Irish folk with a twist. With a lot of twists, actually. Drowsy Maggie added a whole bunch of musical flavors to the songs they recorded. It keeps the album interesting right to the very, very end. But I’ll come to that. First things first. Who are Drowsy Maggie?
Drowsy Maggie Headlining the Folkerdey festival 2019

Drowsy Maggie are a German folk band based around Düsseldorf. The band was formed by accordionist Alex Otto and guitar player Thomas Gurke. Later on drummer Christoph Zimmermann and vocalist/fiddler Sebastian Zimmermann completed the line-up. Their repertoire is filled with classic Irish folk songs, part traditionals and partly works from the likes of Christy Moore; Michael McGoldrick; Richard Thompson (whom we know from Fairport Convention); Gordon Duncan, (a bagpiper/low whistle, composer known -amongst other things- for his work with the Dougie Maclean band); the Irish band Kila (a cool band who mix Irish folk with the energy of gypsy- and Latin American music, think Santana goes folk) and -wait for it- Metallica !!! Did you just say Metallica? Yes! Coming from a pop/rock background Drowsy Maggie play acoustic Irish folk, but they do give it their own energetic twist, just like some of their influences, making Nú Trad a pleasure to listen to. So let’s dive into their music.

The opening track Broken Pledge starts with the deep sound of the floor tom, some intriguing mystical guitar effects and a staccato fiddle that has Cesair’s Diex, Nox Et Omnia written all over it. Alex Otto’s Accordion is fast to follow with a lovely catchy accordion melody, that could have easily come from a Wouter en de Draak album. To my pleasant surprise the band takes their time with this intro, it’s only after 2 minutes that the beat kicks in and the song turns into a catchy Irish jig with the cheerfulness of a Shantalla or Finvarra. Everybody who loves Irish folk will be hooked after this song alone, trust me.

With the second song Drowsy Maggie take on a real classic: Christy Moore’s I Wish I Was In England. And again the band convinced me in every way. Sebastian Zimmermann has a warm and really pleasant voice – with some imagination you could call him an Irish version of The Belgian singer-songwriter Milow – and I can only compliment them on their interpretation of this evergreen. Especially with that French style folk accordion solo thing at the end. Lovely stuff.

These two songs were just a prelude to one of the biggest surprises on Nú Trad and at the same time one of the best and most original songs on this CD. The song is called Superflying Popcorn Drive and the title is just as positively weird as the music itself! Just as Clannad many decades before them, Drowsy Maggie mixes their Irish folk with a jazz flavor! As in the sound of a jazz big band! From the first notes of the bassline, you know you are gonna going to be in for a treat! When the brass section – Avelina Thole on trumpet and Will Wilzek on trombone – step in I am thinking Dizzy Gillespie, Glen miller or – more incoming with the Castlefest style – Berlinkski Beat. And it does not stop there, Sebastian throws in a lovely gypsy style fiddle solo while Otto’s accordion is still insisting to take you down to France. After two and a half minutes the band switches tune and the popcorn really starts to fly. That accordion and fiddle combo is sooo freakin’ catchy, by now I’m bouncing and dancing around the room.
But we are not done yet! The musical flavors change one more time as the brass section goes into marching band modus, including the obligatory drumroll on the snare drum, while the accordion is still cheerfully popping musical popcorn all around my headphone. I know it sounds like an impossible mix to put together, but not for Drowsy Maggie. They manage to get all these crazy ideas into one song and somehow make it work. In the end, you still listened to a folk song. An extremely danceable, cheerful and weird one, but folk nonetheless. 10 out of 10 for originality and musical talent!

And there is more to come. Drowsy’s Bar, for instance, starts as a delicate gypsy solo played by the fiddle, but unexpectedly the song picks up speed and goes into a French folk song with Spanish percussion, still with that gypsy feel although that ends abruptly! After one last chord from the accordion, the song continues as an uptempo Celtic folk tune from Brittany. It isn’t long before the flavor of the song changes yet again, into bluegrass this time! Really?! Yep, no problem in the Drowsy Maggie world.

With Tell God and The Devil the band throws another twist at you. This song is best described as uptempo pop-folk, with some gypsy influences, a heavy bluegrass feel, sung by the Belgian singer-songwriter Milow. Just as the Irish band Kila, Drowsy Maggie seems to throw all those different influences in a blender, put the machine on full speed and just flow with it. It shouldn’t work, but out come the most upbeat and danceable pop-folk songs that you ever heard, by no means traditional, but very, VERY cool.

Want me to describe another one of those musical cocktails? Well, it comes right after Drowsy’s Bar and Tell God and The devil. It’s called The Barre and again it features that typical marching band sound I mentioned before. In Germany, you have something called a musikkapelle , a (small) marching band playing really melodic brass evergreens. (In the link you’ll find a video of the muzikkappelle from Ratingen.) Somehow Drowsy Maggie managed to capture that typical German sound into their folk music and make it feel fresh, young and cool. Don’t ask me how but they did it but it works sooooo well! By the way, did I already mention the band is actually playing a bit of Metallica here? No? Well, they do and it actually works!! French accordion meets German brass section on a Celtic folk album playing an adaptation of a metal song. Only in the Drowsy Maggie world can you fit those four together. It gets even better, after the Metallica-goes-folk-brass-section, Drowsy Maggie push up the beat, pull out a wah-wah guitar, throw in a lovely accordion hook and eventually pull out some groovy disco vibes as well. Seriously? This even beats Clannad’s early 60’s acid folk experiments on their debut album and I’m only halfway through this CD! Now I could go on like this for the next seven songs but that would spoil it all, so I’ll stop here and let you discover the remainder of this album by yourself.

I can imagine that after reading this review you might think this album sounds like a patchwork blanket, but it doesn’t. The album is surprisingly coherent considering all the different styles and that is because of two very good reasons. The first one is that under all those nice quirky ideas it’s all still upbeat, really danceable Irish folk music. Admittedly, with a big wink towards Brittany, but it always returns to those Irish roots.
The second thing that keeps this whole album together is its fresh, spontaneous sound. All the songs were recorded in two live sessions, one of the 29th and one on the 30th of October. And you can hear that. It is clear that the band prepared themselves well for these two sessions and it’s that freshness, together with the originality and quirkiness of the band that makes Nú Trad such a good album. But don’t take my word on it. Go listen for yourself!! Preferably with a suitable dance partner. Because with half of the album filled with upbeat cheerful reels and jigs this is just as much an album for the balfolk enthusiasts as it is for the fans of fun Irish folk. Now let’s get these guys back to Elfia ! Or on the stage of Keltfest . They so deserve it!

– Cliff
Editor: Gwendolyn Snowdon
Sleeve art: Andreas Heller
photo credits: Andreas Heller

CeltCast Classic
Cara – Yet We Sing (2016)

We didn’t focus that much on pure Irish folk CDs in this review section yet, Gwendolyn Snowdon‘s Three Strand Braid, Shantalla‘s From The East Unto The West and of course Clannad‘s early works are the only ones I can think of. But that is about to change. A while ago I got the request from Ilona to review one of her favourite bands, together with a pile of music to listen to. The band is called Cara and the music doesn’t get more Irish than this, even though Cara are a German band. Since their origins in 2003 the band produced 7 CDs, toured the better part of Europe, became successful in the USA, even being voted best new artist of 2009 and top group of 2010 with the Irish Music Association. They were also nominated for a best record award three times. In 2007 in Germany for the CD In Between Times and in 2010 Long Distance Love was nominated, not only in their homeland Germany but also again with the Irish Music Association based in the USA, so you can safely say that Cara have had a successful career up till now. It was almost Inevitable that they would be the second band featured in the CeltCast Classics series. So let’s introduce Cara a bit more.

It all started in 2003 when Gudrun Walther (vocals, fiddle and accordion, left on picture), Jürgen Treyz (guitar, right on picture), Sandra Steinort (vocals, piano and flute) and Claus Steinort (uilleann pipes and flute) formed Cara. Shortly after Rolf Wagels (bodhrán) joined and in this formation the band recorded the studio albums In Colour (2004) and In Between Times (2007) followed by a live CD and DVD called In Full Swing (2008). From 2007 onwards Cara did several tours throughout America, gaining more and more success. It was in these years that Cara won the two Irish Music Awards. Also at this point Sandra and Claus Steinort couldn’t mix the busy tour live with their other obligations and decided to leave the band.

In the video above you see the original line-up playing Please Be Peter – taken from their second CD In Between Times – live at Bonfeld Folk im Schlosshof 2008.

They were replaced by Jeana Leslie, winner of the BBC radio 2 young folk awards (vocals, piano and flute) and multiple all Ireland uilleann pipes champion Ryan Murphy. You could call it a winning line-up. The result was Long Distance Love that came out in 2010.
In 2013 Jeana Leslie started studying *) and in her place Scottish singer/songwriter Kim Edgar joined the band. In that line-up the band recorder Horizon (2013). In 2014 Ryan Murphy had to leave the band due to his busy schedule **) and he was replaced by German uilleann pipe player Hendrik Morgenbrodt. With this line-up the band recorded the albums Yet we sing (2016) and their latest CD Live (2018). Shortly after that long time member Rolf Wagels left the band and Aimée Farrell Courtney was welcomed in the Cara family.

The debut In colour

With all those line-up changes you would think that the sound of the band changed tremendously over the years, but actually it didn’t. It’s still lovely Irish folk music, featuring female vocals, uilleann pipe, flute and violin. All in a clean, calming and almost fragile way. I didn’t hear any distorted instrument or forced singing note on any of the CDs. From the first notes of the opening track on the debut CD In Colour it is clear that the strongest point in Cara’s music are the stunning vocals. The voices of Gudrun Walter and Sandra Steinort are beautiful, crystal clear and work really well together. (As does the combination of Gudrun together with Kim Edgar on later albums.) The harmonies between the two ladies are beautiful. The clean sound of the guitar, violin and uilleann pipes even enhance those lovely voices. Track one, The King And The Fair Maid, is a cheerful introduction into Cara’s music that made me eager for more. Luckily there is more, a lot more actually. You have Three Ravens for example. A beautiful ballad that is a bit in the tradition of Twa Corbiez. The way it is sung reminds me a lot of Gwendolyn Snowdon on her album Three Strand Braids. Or listen to There Is Light, the last song on In Colour. It starts as a lullaby, so tender and fragile with a lovely piano accompaniment – not to mention the acoustic guitar solo in it – but it ends as a grand acoustic power ballad.
From the CD In Between Times (2007) I could name the uptempo, slightly eerie Poisoned Peas with it’s lovely harmony singing and the fast pace of the guitar and uilleann pipes in it, I could name the strong ballad The House Carpenter or I could mention The Maid Of Whitby a nice upbeat song, with a slight country slide guitar in there and a lovely violin solo. This song makes me think of an acoustic version of the Corrs. Both CDs are lovely examples of Irish folk. They have an almost 50/50 balance between instrumental – and vocal songs, all well played. Both In colour and In Between Days will not look out of place in any folk collection.

Cara playing Odd Rhythms a song written by Jürgen Treyz, taken from the 2013 album Horizon

Now I didn’t have the pleasure to listen to In Full Swing (2008) or Long distance Love (2010) yet, so I pick up the story with the 2013 album Horizon. For me the odd one out. On this CD Cara chose a more pop orientated production, with a electronic keyboard sound at times and a strong bass guitar. It turns the feel of the music in a mix of folk and soul/jazz, even funk/jazz in some songs. Just listen to Master Of Consequence or Odd Rhythms, both instrumental songs sound like funk legends Shakatak gone folk music. It takes a bit of getting use to but it actually works. Good examples are the upbeat jazz/folk instrumental Big Jigs or the pop-like Be Gone. Other highlights on Horizon are the beautifully sung ballad Blood, Ice And Ashes -think Matt Bianco meets Irish folk – and the more country orientated ballad The Bonny Lad. Cara are sooo good with their ballads, it is really one of their strong points.

Yet We Sing, The CeltCast Classic

With the 2016 album Yet We Sing, Cara pick up their old sound again, losing the pop/jazz production of Horizon. Opening A Leaf For A Sail is another one of those beautiful ballads that Cara are so well known for. With a theme and a feel that takes me back to Sandy Denny‘s The North Star Grassman And The Ravens and a feel that reminds me a lot of Gwendolyn Snowdon’s interpretation of that song on Three Strand Braid. The Elfin Knight could also have been on Three Strand Braid. Kim Edgar has the same tone of voice and the same style of singing as Gwendolyn Snowdon. There is yet another similarity between Cara and Gwendolyn Snowdon. Their ability to tell a story. Cara clearly stepped away from the traditional call and response type of folk songs that made up the majority of their first two albums to lean towards modern popsongs, with strong lyrics telling a story, sung solo by either Kim Edgar or Gudrun Walther. Cain’s War for instance is a pure protest song, making a powerful statement against fanatism, religion and weapons, Cara I fully agree! Anchor In The Sky and Yet We Sing are two more beautiful ballads. I keep mentioning those, I realise, but honestly, the vocal quality of Cara make buying all of their CD’s worthwhile.

Up till now didn’t mention the instrumental songs much, although 50% of the albums are filled with them. The instrumental songs on the first two Cds are nice Irish folk tunes, mid tempo Jigs and reels played to perfection in the pure Irish way. Nice duets between Violin, flute or uilleann pipes. They may not have the adventurous arrangements as some of the vocal songs, but therefore are islands of calm between the vocal escapades. I love Songs like Reels For Hecki, the balladesque Buddleja, the gypsy style And Off He Went -all found on In Colour– or the almost Arabian sound of C’mon Tiger – found on In between Days- and fans of traditional folk will find many more instrumental gems on the first two Cara albums. As I mention earlier Cara leave the traditional approach of the instrumentals on the CD Horizon, opting for a more groovy jazz approach.
On Yet We Sing I notice a wee bit of a difference in those instrumentals. Although returning to the traditional style of folk Cara played on the first two albums, on Yet We Sing they start adding little twists and improvisations that make music so interesting for me.
There is Heroes, a nice upbeat collection of jigs and reels, with the third section going into a reggae rhythm (!?), just to spice things up, as the band writes themselves in the CD insert. Now that got my attention! Land Of The Midnight Sun is folk meets chamber music, while The Legend of Lisalway, with a lovely uilleann pipes melody, takes us back to the jazz influences on Horizon for a moment. The Naked Man In The Whirlpool starts as a lovely guitar piece and continues as an instrumental ballad instead of a traditional Irish dance. A Wee Dobro Tune is indeed written as a dobro solo piece, with some additional piano and violin. All in all I love the instrumentals just as much as the vocal pieces on this album, making Yet We Sing a clear CeltCast Classic!

So we come to the traditional conclusion and I can tell you that the more I listened to Cara’s music, the more their music grew on me. If I would compare them with a bottle of wine I would describe their music as a mature, yet supple, easy to drink red wine with a lovely bouquet of exquisite vocal harmonies. The instrumentals give the music a lovely vanilla tone with notes of surprising melted dark chocolate especially on the later CDs. fans of the early Clannad albums – especially Clannad 2 or Shantalla really should give Cara’s music a listen, and Yet We Sing is the perfect CD to start that journey.

– Cliff
– Pictures by Gregor Eisenhuth , taken during the Yet We Sing release tour in 2016

PS. I started listening to Cara’s music and writing this introduction in the spring of 2019. Since that time Cara released a new single called Móran Tang. A really touching story that actually says a lot about Cara so I’ll quote Kim Edgar from the Cara site:
“As some of you will already be aware, my dad, Derek Edgar, sadly died of cancer in March 2017. He was an extra-ordinary man: creative, gentle, positive, loving, and determined. He remained just as extra-ordinary in facing cancer of an unknown primary source, for which no successful treatment could be found. In the last week of his life, I wrote him a thank you card, because I wanted him to know how grateful my brother, myself and my mum were to have him in our lives. He challenged me to take the words of that card, and turn them into a happy song – he knew/knows I find writing happy songs difficult! And he has always tried to encourage me to keep developing my skills. And that’s the song, Mòran Taing. The title is in Scots Gaelic, and the chorus means “many thanks, goodbye for now, fare you well for now, many thanks”.
And with this beautiful homage we end this review. Knowing Cara’s musical story still continues.

*) Jeana Leslie is now part of the Scottish folk band Fara
**)Ryan Murphy is now a member of the Scottish folk band Imar

Rapalje – Scotland’s Story (2019) review

cover Rapalje-Scotland's story

There is not much that Rapalje didn’t achieve in their long, extensive career. Their origins going as far back as 1994, they’ve become a household name at the big Dutch and German festivals, with fans as far away as Brazil and Chile. They have 12 albums under their kilt (including the early cassette album Celts In Kilts) a live DVD and even their own festival called Zomerfolk. You could easily say they are the most successful Dutch Celtic folk band. And the cool thing is that they built that name upon the continuous high quality of their music, an always open and friendly approach to their fans and a totally laid back attitude on stage. In a way they are still the street musicians that got together playing in pubs so many years ago.
Their last album, Hearts, dates back to 2014 so a new album was anxiously awaited by the fans. The fact that fan favourite Flatlands already featured as a teaser on the promotional mini CD that Rapalje shared with the crowd at last year’s Castlefest only enhanced the anticipation among the fan groups on Facebook. But the wait is finally over. About a month ago Rapalje released their 13th album Scotland’s Story and yes, the album is all we have come to expect from David, William, Dieb and Maceál. Everything and a wee bit more.
Rapalje Do I really need to introduce the band? It’s hard to believe that it all started out as a symphonic rock band formed in a pub many many years ago. They didn’t play that type of music long though, after seeing a Celtic folk band in their local pub, Maceál – vocals, squeeze box, mouth organ, gitouki, bodhrán, snaredrum – and Dieb – Vocals, violin, tea chest bass, mandolin – carried on as a folk duo called Ruk and Pluk. At that same time Maceál was also active as a street musician, playing up to 11 instruments at once. On the other side of the street a certain William – vocals, gitouki, tea chest bass, bodhrán – was also making a name for himself, as a talented and charming street musician with a good voice. To ‘eliminate’ the competition Maceál introduced William to Dieb, and from that moment on there were three. William is first heard as a guest musician on the 1997 debut album Celts In Kilts, but became a permanent band member soon after.
David – Highland pipes, uillean pipes, tin whistle and low whistle – joined the band several years later. Half Scottish, half Groninger he started playing the bagpipes with the Clan MacBeth pipeband where he is still an instructor. He is also an instructor with The Islanders. Rapalje discovered him during a Scottish festival, where he stood out, as they say: ‘because of his obvious talent and melodic way of playing.’
Since their humble beginnings in 1995, Rapalje have brought out one cassette album called Celtic Folk Music, 12 CD’s, one of them being a compilation containing three of the four first albums called Rakish Paddies (2000), and a live DVD. Furthermore they organise their very own festival, Zomerfolk since 2014. A festival that has become one of the firm favourites on the Celtic folk calendar.


And now there is the 13th album Scotland’s Story. Fans of Rapalje will feel right at home from the very first notes they will hear. It has all the characteristics of Rapaljes music, good voices, lovely Celtic melodies and a sound as warm and comforting as Scottish whisky. This is Rapalje as you want to hear them. Opener Long May You Run is, to my surprise, a Neil Young cover. Originally played by the Stills-Young band . I say to my surprise, because Rapalje re-arranged the song in such a way, that I didn’t recognise the Neil Young style at all. William is the star in this song, I really love his voice. It is strong yet full of emotion and has that wonderful sandpaper edge you want in a lead voice. Long May You Roam, in the Rapalje interpretation, is a lovely mid tempo folk ballad with Dieb’s violin solo flirting ever so slightly against American country. A lovely start to the album.

Fans of bagpipe music are in for a treat with Standfast – The Mason’s Apron. A lovely combination of Scottish traditionals, showcasing all of David’s talents. Although the main ingredients are ‘just’ a bagpipe solo, a gitouki rhythm (the gitouki is a cross between a guitar and a bouzouki that Maceál invented) and a Bodhrán beat, Rapalje somehow managed to contain the energy of a Scottish marching band into a catchy pop song. Quite an achievement.

Rapalje's William and Maceál The start of the album is an accumulation of highlights. The third song is a firm favourite of mine in Rapalje’s live set and again sung by William. Skye Boat Song is the song where I think he really excels. Just listen to that voice as he starts the first lines of Skye Boat Song completely solo. Only his powerful voice, fully expressing every inch of longing for a life gone by written in the lyrics. Goosebumps all the way. Especially when Dieb on violin and David on bagpipes accompany him.

The title song, Scotland’s Story, is another modern cover originally by the Proclaimers. It starts as another ballad by William but David takes over halfway through with a lovely bagpipe melody. A good mood guaranteed for everybody who loves bagpipe orientated Celtic folk.

Then follows a cover I know very well. The Great Song Of Indifference by former punk singer Bob Geldof. It is this song that pulled me into folk rock when it became a hit in 1990. Actually the whole Vegetarians Of Love album is a classic in my book.
The Great Song Of Indifference, in it’s original form, is a energetic, upbeat folk song, with the lyrics being cynical in a way only an Irish person can write or sing. It’s acoustic folk rock with a good punch of punk attitude. Rapalje took a totally different, much more jazzy approach to the song. They re-arranged the solos, took turns singing the lyrics and in that way made The Great Song of Indifference their own, just as they did with the other two modern covers Long May You Run and Scotland’s Story. Although I personally miss that contrast between the upbeat melody and the cynical punky attitude that gave the original its powerful message, the Rapalje version is growing on me and I’m sure the fans will fully enjoy this version.


Dieb from Rapalje Leezy Lindsay is a mid tempo ballad with lovely violin lines from Dieb and the warm, slightly low voice of William both taking centre stage. The song is a love story from a time where it wasn’t a good thing to be a Highlander. But Leezy Lindsay, although hesitant herself, was encouraged by her loved ones to go with a Highlander Laird who made her the lady of a great castle.

An interesting part of folk music is that they quite often take a tragic or gruesome story and pack it into the most cheerful of tunes. Step It Out Mary is a good example of that genre. The melody is up beat, cheerful and really invites you to sing along and clap. The lyrics tell a totally different story, a love-not-to-be with a tragic end. Dieb proved years ago with The Bog Down In The Valley-O that he is a wonderful storyteller and this song is no exception.

maceál and David from Rapalje The Strayaway Child had me surprised the first time I heard it. It’s a flute solo by David on the low whistle, an instrument often used in the pagan folk scene. And indeed a big part of the song has a real pagan folk feel to it. That feel is enhanced by the low accordion chords (and is that a cello I hear next to it?) accompanying David’s slightly mystical notes. In a way those instruments take over the role that the slidgeridoo has in many pagan folk bands. A lovely, enchanting surprise. Towards the end of the song the Celtic heritage finally takes over though, the rhythm changes slightly and a nice violin melody turns this pagan folk ballad into a Celtic folk duet for low flute and violin. One of my favourite songs on Scotland’s Story.

Dieb in his role as singing storyteller takes the lead again in Tippin’ It Up To Nancy. In its essence it’s an a cappella song, accompanied by a single bodhrán, telling another sinister story of betrayal and adultery in the most cheerful of tunes. With just the right amount of trickery and treason to keep us entertained in the verses, the chorus is fun and cheerful, a perfect sing along song during concerts.


Flatlands is already a firm favourite among the fans during the live shows and now the most powerful song on this mostly mid tempo album. Written by William in a way it tells the story of Rapalje. But the best part is David playing the chorus on Highlander pipes. As a young lad I went to a taptoe as we call it in Holland, with Dutch marching bands and one of them was a Scottish marching band. I still remember to this day the first time I heard Scotland The Brave played by those bagpipes and it still brings shivers to my spine. I even watch the Edingburgh tattoo every year to hear the marching bands play it as they leave the castle. And guess what, thát is the tune Rapalje put in the chorus. During live shows the best part always is when David walks of the podium straight into the crowd, creating a gigantic polonaise behind him as he criss crosses through the audience. Maceál managed to capture a big part of that energy in the album version of this song, making it a worthy conclusion to this lovely CD.

With Scotland’s Story Rapalje added yet another fine CD to their already impressive discography. As always it is full of quality Celtic folk. It’s an album filled with warm comforting music, played in that typical, slightly laid back, Rapalje style. A joy to listen to and I can only hope that it won’t take another 4 years before they record the next album cause this CD already gave me an appetite for more. Oh and I have one other request. That band portrait in the middle of the sleeve art! The one with the eyes! Can we get that as a poster?? I need to have that as my new wallpaper! It’s hilarious!!!!

– Cliff

editor: Diane Deroubaix
Sleeve art: Dieb
Photo’s: Cliff de Booy

Rob van Barschot – Home (2018) review

There is no denying it, Rob van Barschot is, as the Dutch would say, a musical centipede. He studied music at the Fontys Art School, graduating in improvisation, jazz, latin and afro. He played drums and percussion in a jazz choir; a Foo Fighters tribute band and, of course, his former band Omnia. He was musical leader in jazz jam sessions and worked together with Fieke van der Hurk on the 2018 Wickerman ritual on Castlefest, leading the percussion section. He gives well-received drum/percussion workshops. He makes dance music with his friend and partner in crime Daphyd Sens under the name ThunderCrow. And now his first solo album Home is out through Bandcamp featuring the GUDA drum. Rob wrote most of the music himself or co-wrote it, adding the words ‘solo-artist’ and ‘composer’ to his already impressive CV.
Rob explained to me that the idea for this solo album started during the recording of the first ThunderCrow CD Drop It.
– ‘2 years ago, with ThunderCrow, we decided we would like to add a ‘handpan’ sound to the recordings of Drop It. I found a second hand GUDA drum on the internet with Omnia logos on it. I thought that was funny, so I bought that one. When the developers of the GUDA drum found out I bought a drum with my own logos on it, they also thought it was funny, and gave me a second drum for free! That’s how my collaboration with GUDA DRUM by ZEN PERCUSSION started. 2 years later I have several GUDAs at home for teaching private and group lessons, all in their own size and scale.’

So, what is a GUDA drum? It is a hybrid between a tongue drum and a handpan. A tongue drum would be a drum originally made from propan tanks with tongues cut out that give the drum its tone. Handpans are drums where two metal shells are glued together and fields -I would call them dents- are worked into the instrument which produce several harmonious tones when hit.
Rob van Barschot on Guda drum A GUDA drum is also made of two half shells glued together, but has tongues cut out instead of the ‘dents’ that you can see on a handpan. It is usually played with the fingers by tapping the tongues and creating a melody like that. Despite being a ‘steel’ drum I find the sound of the GUDA drum warm, mellow and comforting where a handpan and several other tongue drums I heard are bit more metallic sounding. The music on Home reflects that sound. It’s relaxing, soothing, yet rhythmical music. The album is firmly rooted in the new age tradition with touches of ambient beats cheering you up. But there is a big difference. Where most new age music has this carpet of violin or keyboard smoothing out the rhythms, giving it a bit of a nostalgic of melancholic feel, the melodylines played on the GUDA drum are part of the rhythm, giving the songs on Home a special groove, and a real positive vibe. It sounds a lot more grounded, and less dreamy than most other new age albums.

Rob:‘The album is called Home, because I recorded everything in the relaxing environment of my own house (except Nomad, which is a live recording from a theatre). The reason why it sounds so great is because Fieke van den Hurk (Dearworld Studio) mixed and mastered my home recordings in her studio. If you listen carefully you can hear breathing, walking and nature sounds on the album because we chose not to hide any ‘extra sounds’ we made during the recording process. The girls from Guinevere (picture above) recorded their parts in their own homes and of course Tineke Ogink (second from right) wrote the lyrics for Fox and Bird. Besides Fieke and Guinevere I had help from Wouter de Belder aka “Het Belders Strijkorkest” -violin, alto-violin, double bass- and from percussionist Gijs Anders van Straalen -garrapata, udu, pandeiro, caixixi, quinto, conguita-‘
Rob himself plays three GUDA drums on Home; the GUDA F Custom, – G Enigma and – Freezbee A African, as well as cajons, shakers, bells, marimba, bongos, cymbals, tammorra, darbuka, floor tom, tambourine and the Logic drum machine.

The first song on Home, La Vita, starts with Rob playing a melody on a single GUDA drum and the beauty of the instrument becomes clear straight away. Wouter de Belder’s low bass sound really complements the bell like sound of the GUDA drum. And with the addition of the percussion, the alto violin and the repetition of the main melody, a real gentle, almost hypnotising song emerges. Rob really proves himself to be a strong songwriter.
Now when you happen to know (like I do) that Rob’s girlfriend is called Vita, you probably, just like me, expect La Vita to sound like a love song, but it doesn’t. It feels comforting, safe and reassuring like a warm bath in winter, a glass of wine in a late summer breeze, or a long hug from a best friend. That sort of safe. 100% spot on says Rob.
– ‘I have written this song for my girlfriend Vita. She needs me to play some GUDA tunes in the evening so she can relax before she goes to bed. I’ve added the word “La” so the title has a more general feel (and of course Vita IS a big part of my life.)
What I particularly like about La Vita is all the extra bits added to the song. Little bits of percussion, the strings supporting the GUDA drum melody or the electronic beats in the end giving this new age song that bit of ambient sparkle, that touch of jazzy groove. A wonderful start to this album, I have to say.

The second song Nomad has a more African feel to it. The GUDA drum here reminds me of the sound of a kalimba. A small African ‘thumb piano’ made from wood with metal keys. Together with the added percussion instruments it takes my imagination right into the savannas of southern Africa. Rob:Nomad is a solo piece I wrote while I was touring in Bratislava, Zlin and Prague. This live version comes from my last theatre tour with OMNIA. A nice memory from 7 years of touring the world.’

The third song, Neal Creek Resort, again has my imagination sparkling. The title suggests a remote place in the desert and the music took me on a fun journey figuring out where that place was. In the end I settled for a Creek somewhere in the Australian outback, but I was wrong this time.
Rob: Neal Creek Resort is a song I wrote while I was in the USA, in the most beautiful resort I have ever seen. We were able to see the sun set together with the lovely people that own the resort. The repetitive melody will get you into a nice relaxing mood. Later in the song you will hear a lot of different melodies crossing each other which represent the drops of water in the creek.’
Those melodies come in after a minute or two and they are beautiful. As one melody climbs over the other in a repetetive way, one variation flowing into the next I’m strongly reminded of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, or even more of the album Incantations by the same artist.

Talking about Mike Oldfield, the next song Bali Suite is a three part song that could easily be on one of his albums. It starts with the sound of waves. Through the waves you can hear the monks tap their Buddhist gongs. Yet another way to use the GUDA drum. As the song progresses you hear the jazz influence creeping in again. The GUDA drum and the percussion play with each other, react to each other in a way you would expect jazz instruments to interact, bringing a new dimension to the already varied sound on this album. And yet the mellow new age atmosphere remains no matter what. Even in the third part of this suite Bali Volcano, where the jazz rhythms become a bit too improvised for me to understand them, leaving me a wee bit lost. But not for long, after a minute or two the lead rhythm -or should I say melody- of the GUDA drum picks me up again and brings me back to the mellow chilled out state of enjoyment I have all the way through this album.
Rob :Bali Suite is a three part song. I wanted to record a song with Gijs, and we had so much fun that it turned into a complete suite.The first part is called Bali Ocean.You will arrive at the beach, and travel into the jungle of Bali.
Bali Jungle is the 2nd part of the Bali Suite. In this part we go further in to the mainland where we start to hear more sounds from the jungle. The garrapata, GUDA and dun dun solos were all done in one take!
Bali Volcano is the 3rd and final part of the Bali Suite. You will hear yourself walking closer and closer to the volcano until it erupts !!!! The enormous drum in the end is called Blanka, and she represents the volcano.

Fox And Bird is the odd one out on Home, it’s a vocal pop song that Rob wrote together with Tineke Ogink, one of the members of the female vocal group Guinevere. The four members of Guinevere also studied at the Fontys Art School, hence the connection as Rob explains.
Rob:’ A song that we wrote with Guinevere, a mystic pop vocal group. I’ve met these girls when I was studying in Tilburg. We didn’t see each other for 8 years or so, and suddenly we bumped into each other again. For the inspiration of this song I have to send you to Tineke Ogink, who wrote the lyrics after I sent her the melody.’

Tineke Ogink:‘Fox And Bird is about two lovers who, despite their desire to be together, just can’t be. It actually started out as an idea to just put the four voices of Guinevere underneath the beautiful, serene sound of the GUDA drum, kind of like a bed. Because the drums all come in different keys and Rob wanted to use two of them, we had these two chords to start out with. Once I started getting ideas for a melody, the words started to flow. The sound of the Guda Drum brings clear visions of nature to me and I’ve always been a fool for a love story, even when it doesn’t end well like this one. It would be against the nature of a fox and a bird to be together, they just don’t belong, they are too different. But still the fox and bird in this story try. And, sadly, they fail. It’s a story that happens in real life all the time. Two people loving each other and willing to do anything to stay together, even when they just don’t belong. Beautiful, but sad..’
The song itself is beautiful. Guinevere in its essence is a a capella group, blending their wonderful vocals together as I remember of the R&B group Shai and their big hit If I Ever Fall In Love Again. The ladies have that same soul in their voices. Together with the harmonies of the GUDA drums and the bass under it Fox and Bird is a wonderful ballad to end the album.

Overall I love Home. It has a real laid back feeling, the ideal music to put on if you want to relax and unwind. It has this mellow summer night feel all over it, yet, Rob experimented a lot with this intresting instrument which was totally new to him. Going from new age to ambient, from African Kalimba to Buddhist gongs, with that ever so slight jazzy approach to it all.
Rob:‘Yes, I’ve written a lot of different songs to find out what’s possible on the GUDA drum. 2 songs that didn’t make the album (maybe the next one) are a drum ’n’ bass and a jazz song. Because it’s so easy to amplify GUDA drums, I’ve had several effect pedals attached to them to see what the limits are and I hope the GUDA drum will be seen as a diverse instrument that has unique acoustic – and digital options. Working together with other artists was a blast, you won’t believe how fast Tineke finished Fox and Bird after I sent her the melody. Gijs van Straalen has the quality to add something nice to everything I write. And Fieke, well of course it was nice with Fieke. We have worked on a lot of music together -ThunderCrow, Contrebrassens, OMNIA, etc- and I hope we will work on a lot more!’


Editor: Diane Deroubaix

PerKelt – Air And Fire (2019) review

Cover PerKelt CD Air And Fire

Just a few days ago I wrote a review about the new Pyrolysis CD and I concluded that the album was the biggest surprise of the year. A remark I thought would stand for a few months. Not so! We are one week further and PerKelt gives me the next ‘biggest’ surprise! Who would have thought that I would listen to the first track of a PerKelt album and that my notes would say: -ballad!-, -spoken word-, -male lead vocals!!!- and -reminds me of the 60’s folk singer-songwriter Donovan!!?-. The second song I hear,Morana, is PerKelt the way I know it, fast and furious pagan speed folk, so my surprised feeling starts to fade slightly. But then Štěpán starts reciting a poem and again the comparison with Donovan is there, specifically with the song Atlantis, one of Donovan’s classic hits. What about track 4, Air And Fire then? Surely Perkelt will now go into a speed folk frenzy? No! Another gentle acoustic guitar motif, almost Spanish sounding, flowing into a midtempo flute solo with gentle guitar and violin chords… and still no lead vocals from Paya in sight!
At this point I seriously grabbed the previous album Dancer In The Wind, and listened to it, just to check if my memory could be that wrong. PerKelt were that ultra fast pagan folk band just one album ago, weren’t they!? Yep, they were. Even more intrigued I returned to Air And Fire. Track 5, Waterflies left me even more bewildered, hearing a Brisinga type chant ! Who,…why….what happened???! Don’t get me wrong, I love what I’m hearing ’till now, but it is so different. Where did this surprising music come from????
I just had to know, so I did something I had never done before. I spontaneously called Štěpán, to ask him all those questions I had running through my head, totally forgetting that my normal 9 to 5 timetable and that of a musician performing at night totally do not match. And even more so forgetting that there is a one hour time difference between Holland and Great Britain, whoops! So Monday morning 08:15 sharp, Štěpán Honc, guitar player and (at least for this album) lead vocalist of Perkelt, had an overexcited reviewer from the Netherlands on the phone, asking him too many questions in too short a space of time to properly answer. (Deeply sorry about that Štěpán.) luckily Štěpán didn’t mind and patiently answered them all.

Štěpán: “Did we plan this style change? Not really, we always write songs as they come and once we have enough of them for an album we go to the studio. It’s hard to call it a conceptual work then” He laughs. “But indeed, some of these songs were written slightly differently than before. Writing poetry became my big passion as a child and I have been writing poems and little stories pretty much constantly ever since. When our fiddler Duncan joined the band a couple of years ago, we naturally started writing songs together. He was bringing his melodic ideas, often with unusual rhythm changes like you can find in the new songs I’ll Be Right Back or Betrayal, and I opened my notebook with lyrics… and it just worked together really nicely. Paya then came in and, as always, she brought some crystal-clear Celtic melodies on top of that. Together, including David we would then arrange and polish all the ideas until everything felt just right.
In some other songs, however, I desired to try the proper singer-songwriting. Write songs that can be easily played just with one voice and a guitar. In the band we al love good singer-songwriting, when poetry meets music in the most easiest-flowing- and the most sensitive of ways. Each of us listens to many songwriters, there are some brilliant Czech songwriters that nobody in the UK could hear of, for the reason of the language barrier. Inspired by this kind of music came songs like Robin And Parakeet, When The Water Is Pure or The Little Prayer. All of them, but especially the last one, The Little Prayer, also follow my obsession with spoken word.
At the conservatory where I studied classical guitar, there was a period where I was struggling to find my own way of performing the melodic lines. I wasn’t very happy with the way the guitar is normally being used in this matter, so instead of listening to classical guitar music over and over again like some of my schoolmates did, I was listening to spoken word. Audio books for children were my big passion in my twenties, and the natural phrasing of the spoken word was quite an important influence on my performance and later even on my style of composing and songwriting. Admittedly I also won’t forget the first time I heard Steve from Omnia performing The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe! That is a proper masterpiece! I really wanted to write something in that way -but of course with the usual PerKelt twists haha- and here I finally had a great opportunity.

With all of these songs I thought that Paya would obviously sing the lead vocal, as always, she is so good, But since I was writing the lyrics, I was the first who sang all of them to the other band members, and the guys were kinda insisting that I should keep singing them. They were so persistent that eventually I had to surrender and shake off my shyness. However, I wouldn’t call it “singing” myself, necessarily.”
Štěpán adds with a laugh: “I have the vocal range of a slightly overdeveloped brick!!! So instead I focused on telling the story, emphasizing on what is important, to make my thick -although reportedly sexy- accent a bit more comprehensible. So I see it more like talking, like storytelling, really.
Is the next album gonna be in the same line as this one? I have no idea what kind of music we will be writing after this album. It will mostly depend on what will inspire us in the next couple of years, It will be a spontaneous thing, not something we plan. But I can promise you one thing, we will make sure that it is as good as possible!”

As this was a totally spontaneous early morning interview, with Štěpán indeed getting a thick Czech accent as he got into it, and me trying to follow it all while cycling to work on my bike, Štěpán kindly wrote me an email answering all my questions one more time. He did even more, he kindly wrote a personal introduction to every song on Air And Fire. And those were at times so touching I just had to add them to this review. So here is Air And Fire in Štěpán’s words and in mine. Totally spontaneous, but that is how it works in PerKelt’s world.


Štěpán: I have a particular feeling about keeping birds in cages. In Czechia parakeets are very popular as pets and when I see these amazing creatures trapped in a box, 50cm by 50cm their whole life, it’s quite disturbing to say the least.
I also have a feeling about some people, who are very unhappy about not having enough freedom, who keep complaining about the job they don’t like, their mortgage, yet they refuse to give up on the material comforts their lifestyle brings. A new phone every year, a big house, big TV, massages, getting drunk every night…Hence the “golden cage” and “golden key” imagery. I find it confusing. Maybe they really can’t change it. I don’t know. Or I don’t know how to do it myself. I can see that what I say is making them suffer. Their self-defence would be to convince me that I am wrong and at one point, when everything has been said, me talking or even staying would cause only pain, possibly to both of us.

Cliff: This song captured me from the start and after a week of continuous listening has become my firm favourite. Štěpán has a beautiful warm and tender voice, one that, as I already said in the intro, reminds me instantly of the 60’s singer-songwriter Donovan. At first I fell in love with the melody of the song, the melody of Štěpán’s voice, but it was when I got the lyrics and saw the story behind the song that I got the full impact of it. As I was reading along while Štěpán was singing I had tears pouring over my cheeks. That’s how much its message touched me. Štěpán can say he has the vocal range of a brick. But it’s not the range that is important. It is what you do with a voice, and Štěpán is constantly reaching out to me. Reaching me way deeper than most music does. Past the point in my brain that analyses music and defines it as beautiful, interesting or just nice. He reaches deep inside my heart and cry warm tears as he does.
Duncan Menzies, Perkelt, Castlefest 2018 As a song it’s a mid tempo singer-songwriter style song with Duncan Menzies (violin) and Paya Lehane (recorder) adding some touching colour to the vocals. in the second half, the song builds up momentum. It grows from an intimate singer-songwriter ballad into a grand pagan folk classic-to-be. It’s Štěpán’s intimate, loving vocals, the lyrics full of compassion contrasting against the musical exuberance, the sense of freedom running through Duncan and Paya’s solos that make this song so special. It is pagan folk at its very, very best.

track 2 MORANA

Štěpán: Morana is a Slavic goddess of winter and death. I don’t see her as a harmful force even if she is the goddess of death, someone has to do that job 🙂 And when it’s not our time yet, she brings us together in mutual helpfulness, rebirth and humility.

Cliff: This is PerKelt as we now them from previous albums. Fast and energetic pagan folk. Due to the songs theme, honouring the goddess Morana, it has a simular feel as the second and third part of Omnia’s The Morrigan. Although Morana is the goddess of winter and death, the song itself is not sad. On the contrary. It Is a celebration of life. The energy really sparked from the CD. Paya and Duncan turn Morana into a swirling magical dance between flute and violin. Driven on by the fast rhythm of Štěpán’s guitar and David’s drums. This is the ultimate form of a pagan folk extravaganza!


Štěpán: This song is very personal to me. I wrote this poem at a time I was getting back on my feet, after a bit of a relationship earthquake. Illegal psytrance parties, my favourite Wicca tribe  rituals and some particularly close friends helped me so much. So I just started writing and eventually managed to put everything that is important for me into this little prayer. We plan to make a video of this one, so I can share all the particular images that are behind the words properly.

Cliff: The contrast between Morana and the start of Little Prayer could not have been bigger. From the ultimate celebration of pagan folk live into the sole voice of Štěpán reciting one of his poems. Štěpán already mentioned that his admiration of Omnia’s The Raven was the inspiration to write this piece of poetic music. And it has become a lovely piece of music with his own unique feel. Again this music touches me way beyond the point where it normally does. Just as Robin And Parakeet this grabs me on a much more personal level. I just want to sit, hands around my knees and listen. Absorb everything Štěpán is saying. PerKelt composed the perfect music around it, building the song up in an impressive way, really complementing every word Štěpán has written. I so hope Perkelt are invited back to this years winter Castlefest, so that they can perform these songs in the intimacy of the Great Hall stage. I believe it would be a wonderful performance, one I would remember for a long time. For now I have to settle for a virtual hug of friendship after hearing Little Prayer.

track 4 AIR AND FIRE

Štěpán: This is an instrumental song. One particular genre of classical guitar music I love a lot is minimalism. Take a single little musical idea, start repeating it, enhance and build upon it, until it grows into a massive structure. And, if you are PerKelt, throw a little bit of psytrance feeling in the drums and add some super virtuoso recorder parts. I love this song! we have two little motifs, the gentle air at the beginning and the aggressive fire that comes later. They grow together, just as the wind makes a little bonfire grow.

Cliff: Štěpán isn’t the only one loving this song, I do to. What he didn’t say in his intro is that the two motifs he is talking about are instant earworms, happy pagan earworms, dancing in and out of your ears, tickling your brain and enticing your feet to dance, to swirl, to kick the dust up from the earth. I really don’t know who I should compliment the most in this song: Duncan who, with his lovely violin melodies is enriching the PerKelt sound, Štěpán and David driving the band on with their fast rhythms, or Paya who steals the show for me with her virtuoso recorder playing. Again the energy sparks off from my speakers. One of the very best pagan folk dance songs I’ve heard in a long time, if not ever.


Štěpán: I wrote a few environmentalist poems. This poem isn’t a very happy one but the others are even much less so. I love people so much, but it’s hard to unsee that the Earth would do really great without us.

Cliff: Waterflies is a chant that has the same feel as Brisinga’s Sinä Ja Minä. It’s the first song where Paya takes the lead vocals in a strong neo pagan prayer. Together with the poem recited by Štěpán, it’s a strong voice against all that we humans do wrong on this still blue planet. Will we ever change? Perhaps the more voices sing along in protest, the more people share songs like this, the more likely it is that the human race will finally listen…Really listen! Really act! Not just agree, nod and carry on regardless.


Štěpán: This is actually our arrangement and free translation of the song “Tanec duchů” (literally Dance of Ghosts). The song is written by my guitar teacher and very good friend back in the 90’s. He has a band called Wild West and was taking me on their tours every now and then when I was a little kiddo. I always loved this song and originally translated it just to share it with my music friends in London on our cosmic jam gatherings… but again, he guys in PerKelt liked it and agreed to arrange it for the album. Duncan brought an amazing fiddle riff that fits perfectly.It is a very powerful song about fighting against the chains of society and politics, inspired by the Native American tribes and their history.

Cliff: This is the biggest contrast on the album. While the power and message of Waterflies is still resonating within me, Duncan throws out a gypsy violin intro. Dance Of Ghosts is another protest song but of a different kind than Waterflies. It is a statement on moral injustice, dressed as a pagan folk meets gypsy music meets Native American music song. Maybe a bit less exuberant than some of the other songs on Air And Fire, but with the same powerful vibe.


Štěpán: This is mostly an instrumental song, the original theme written by Duncan in a crazy 13/8 time signature. For contrast we came up with a simple and straightforward 6/8 rhythm. So simple it made us laugh… I thought hey, let’s push this even further and asked the band to give me 4 minutes. And I came up with this little waltz like singing part, about the light-headed feeling when playing at festivals. I’m very happy that this song is there, it brightens the album up a lot!

Cliff: Duncan has brought new idea’s into the band. And that inspired PerKelt to make their most varied album yet. The old PerKelt trademarks are still there, the speed, the virtuoso recorder, the driving acoustic guitar, the psytrance drums, but they are now mixed with much slower, much more delicate music. As a result PerKelts music is much more dynamic now, which makes the fast sections even more powerful and the gentle passages more subtle as well. And I love every second of it. I also love the musical connection that Duncan and Paya have found. Just listen how the violin and recorder dance around each other in this ‘battle’ of talents. Simply awesome!


Štěpán: Not surprisingly, I wrote this song for my girlfriend. It’s about love and about freedom, about staying up all night to keep talking, about patience and honesty. During concerts I sing this song a capella , so I decided to keep it this way on the album as well.
PerKelt, Castelfest 2018 Cliff: Well, if you ever wanted to know how an overdeveloped brick sounds, then just listen to this a capella ode to love. Everything Štěpán said about his singing style is true. But in the limitations he mentioned also lays it’s power. Štěpán happens to have a really pleasant, easy to listen to type of voice. And yes, he has a thick accent, but that actually adds more melody. Just as a Scottish accent would. And the cool thing is Paya’s voice complement his extremely well.


Štěpán: I read a beautiful book by Oriah Mountain Dreamer called Invitation. She first wrote a poem of the same title and it became so popular that in her first book she was just explaining the verses, one by one, an amazing masterpiece! The verse that stuck to me the most goes like this:
-It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
Sometimes we give a promise to another, only to find later that to try and keep trying that promise you will now cause only harm. It is a very difficult situation, easy to judge harshly for those who never experienced it. Our own journey, that I believe we are destined for, does not always align with these promises. I’ll be with you forever is kind of a typical example.
In the story of this song the Moon promises a desperate girl to never leave and be there every night. And all goes good until we realise that however powerful, even the Moon is following laws much bigger than any promise, and when the eclipse unavoidably comes, the Moon disappears from the night sky and this girl feels deeply betrayed. And in her pain she does something very stupid. In the intro the Moon introduces herself as the proud saviour. In the outro, after this experience, she cries and realises how important the role of the Sun is, who maybe doesn’t save people in the darkness, but who keeps the people away from the darkness once they get out.

Cliff: A Gregorian sounding choir starts Betrayal. As you can see from Štěpán’s description above it is a tragic story wrapped in a song, much like Omnia’s Harp Of Death. Betrayal is a strong end to this beautiful CD. It brings together all the elements that make Air And Fire such a pleasure to listen to. Štěpán’s vocals, some lovely duels between Paya and Duncan, lot’s of dynamic in the song, and David’s percussion giving it loads of energy! I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years time Air And Fire will be a pagan folk classic just as Omnia’s Alive! has become, because this is pagan folk at its very, very best!!!


Editor: Diane Deroubaix
Pictures taken at Castlefest 2018 by Cliff de Booy


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