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ANGUS LYON & RUARIDH CAMPBELL - 18 Months Later

ANGUS LYON & RUARIDH CAMPBELL - 18 Months Later
Mirlees Records MIR01CD

I detect two young musicians absolutely brimming with confidence and ideas here. '18 Months Later' is an album of striking originality - this accordion/piano & fiddle/viola duo's gorgeous tunes offer compelling, absorbing listening. Their clear respect for Scottish folk tradition combines so beautifully with the classical, contemporary and jazz genres. You detect a Piazzolla influence here, a Breton folk touch there - and then you draw breath as electric guitar or fender rhodes interweave the mix. Ruaridh's classical training is palpable throughout this recording, and Angus' years of session work with contemporary UK musicians have paid off very handsomely.

This album succeeds on every level. There are huge shifts in mood and tempo, loads of space and detail in the arrangements - and the vast majority of these jigs, reels and airs are original compositions. The instrumentation works so well - Alan Train's electric guitar is fabulously effective wherever it's used, particularly on 'The Trains (live from NYC),' where the instrument threads its way sinuously through a lilting accordion-led tune. Highlight track 'Drowsy Maggie' is stunningly adapted to incorporate the most sublime 'variations on a theme', and makes you think in classical music terms - " allegro...lento e largo" . It's an ambitious, intense, dramatic piece - passionately executed - Ruaridh's fiddle playing is superlative here. The list goes on - there's the liltingly beautiful 'Compliments to Mr François Eberlé', the effortlessly catchy 'Washington Square Park'. A strong sense of rhythm and texture abounds.

This album is all the more impressive when you read the sleeve notes and realise that it seems to have been recorded in fairly difficult circumstances. Piano and double bass were recorded in the relatively civilised confines of An Tobar arts centre, Mull. But accordion, rhodes, bodhran, whistle, flugelhorn and trumpet were recorded in various rooms in Angus Lyons' home, whilst Ruaridh recorded some of the fiddle/viola in his own living room.

A truly sensational recording from two of Scotland's most exciting young musical innovators.

Debbie Koritsas

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This album was reviewed in Issue 69 of The Living Tradition magazine.