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Tartan Amoebas - Evolution
TARTAN AMOEBAS "Evolution" Iona Records IRCD058

Somehow I wasn't expecting a studio album from this band. I suppose like many people I have become accustomed to seeing these guys in a live setting. Mind you, it's obvious that all the hard work touring has enabled them to lay down a sophisticated and tight album. "Trad. Arr." it ain't, but this could well be a glimpse at the future of Scottish band music - or at least a pretty good stab at what our offspring will be swaying to before too long. Bagpipes and fiddles weave in and out of harmony with electric sitar, keyboards, saxophones and many other wind instruments - but the total effect is never cluttered. Some tracks begin to sound almost clinical in the accuracy of the phrasing, before the listener is brought back to earth by rocky guitar riffs or the urgent pounding of the drums. The driving force may well be the rhythm section, but it's obvious that Fraser McNaughton is the lubrication in the cogs, having written ten of the thirteen tracks and contributed the lead instrument in most cases.

It would not be advisable to attempt to show off your best country dance steps to this album - if you intend to avoid your local casualty department, but it will certainly add a certain bounce to an evening (but it MUST be played loud - it all seems a trifle lame at less than half volume, and quite rightly so as you wouldn't expect these guys to hold back in a live situation). Good hard-driven no nonsense strident jazzy folky roustabout.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 25 of The Living Tradition magazine.