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Sandy Brechin "Out of his Tree" Greentrax CDTRAX169

A member of Burach, Seelyhoo and his own crazy ceilidh band, Sandy Brechin is probably one of the busiest box-players in Scotland. He's certainly one of the best. His first album got great reviews, not just from me, and this follow-up is most welcome.

From the opening jig "Green Mutant Ninja Turtle Blood", it's clear that this is not mainstream Scottish piano accordion music. Some box-players flirt with the edge: Sandy Brechin takes a running jump at it and lands on the far side.

Don't get me wrong. This is very approachable music, among the most listenable of contemporary Edinburgh off-the-wall traditional albums, and the improbable tune titles belie the musicality and technical excellence which Mr Brechin possesses in abundance. Take track 2, for instance: two great tunes from the traditional piping repertoire and an own composition, shifting easily from Jimmy Shand to Phil Cunningham to Weird Planet, at a lovely relaxed tempo which is actually slightly too slow for a Canadian Barn Dance. This is not modern noise with a nod towards celtic roots, it's good traditional music brought up to date.

If you want to hear what an accordion can do in the right hands, put it in the right and left hands of Sandy Brechin - but be prepared for some surprises! Mr Brechin writes some exceedingly strange tunes, and shifts between styles with unusual abandon, but it nearly always works well. As Norman Chalmers said in a Radio Scotland review, "He's a very lucid, sane person, given that he's a complete loony."

What else? Fifty-two minutes, fourteen tracks. Mainly own compositions. Mainly box, bass and drums. Mainly brilliant.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 33 of The Living Tradition magazine.