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HOWLING AT RAVENS "Lovely Molly" HAR001

I am often surprised by the way that turbo charged versions of traditional material can end up sounding flat and unadventurous whiles a subtle nudge in one direction and a mixing in of a fresh idea or two in the reworking of a tune can be so rewarding. "Howling at Ravens" employ more than a few nudges and new ideas on their CD, "Lovely Molly", not all of them subtle but rewarding none the less.

"Howling at Ravens", may be better known as Allan Moller, uilleann pipes; Chris Knowles, Celtic Harp and bouzouki; Ben Walker, uilleann pipes, flute, saxophone and keyboard. These three musicians share a combination of experiences and influences from reed making and instrument repairs to jazz and improvised music. The material they play here is mainly from the Irish Tradition but includes many of Ben Walker's own tunes and also "Y Pibyidd Du" and "The Delight of the Spinning Wheel" from the Welsh Tradition. A band with two uilleann pipers could well be expected to always have the pipes in the forefront of any of the settings. This, however, is not the case. The harp and the flute both have the upper hand on many tracks as will be heard on "The Morning Thrush" and "Planxty Donal O' Brian".

The playing is unhurried and well paced particularly on the set tunes and slow airs, all of them given due weight and dimension. Among these tunes and airs are "The Green Fields of Canada", "The Wounded Hussar" and "Howling at Ravens", three of the best tracks I have heard all year.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 34 of The Living Tradition magazine.