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PAUL MOUNSEY - "Nahoo 3" - Iona Records IRCD068

Well, he's done it again. Subtitled "Notes from the Republic", this is Paul Mounsey's third CD combining elements of Celtic music with other stuff. Like the first two, it's brilliant.

The "other stuff" includes Amazon Indian samples, rock music, Latin American brass and vocals, and pretty much anything else he can think of. Dunfermline-born Mounsey is a multimedia guru in Brazil, and it shows: this is a lavish production with a big sound and lots of special effects.

So where's the Celtic connection? For the first time, Mounsey hasn't actually recorded Celtic musicians: however, more than half the 14 tracks (65 minutes) on "Nahoo 3" have obvious Celtic elements, including samples and remixes of traditional music. Four of the five songs are inspired by Scots: the hard-hitting "Independence Blues" tells of emigrant MacDonalds enslaving the negro population of the New World, the contrasting "Unfinished Business" talks of the pain and sorrow of the emigrants, "Mad Litany" is an arrangement of a mediaeval Scottish prayer, and there's an interesting techno arrangement of Ewan McColl's song "The First Time Ever". There's also a Gaelic waulking song which Mounsey has remixed with a rock-style accompaniment.

Things get stranger. The instrumental tracks range from a quite spooky version of the Gaelic air "Farewell to Fiunary" and a slow reel given the multimedia treatment, through New Age Celtic and Old Time Cowboy, to almost total techno on "Nahoo Nation" and "Carver Agnus with Bites". It's as if Mounsey had thrown Hawkwind, the Traditional Music Archive, and most of a Rio street carnival into a pot and then ladled out 14 helpings. Which, in a digital way, I suppose he has. If you're still unsure, the 7-minute opener "Nahoo Nation" gives a good idea of what's to come: me, I could listen to this all day without getting bored.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 37 of The Living Tradition magazine.