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THE CHAINSAW SISTERS Hot Sauce NMCD7

This is an extremely interesting and challenging album. The Chainsaw Sisters - Kathryn Locke and Tanera Dawkins - are two cellists that push their instruments to the limit both musically and technically. They bow, pluck and yes, even saw! Locke of course is no newcomer to the folk scene having cut her musical teeth in various folk dance bands including Token Women and her duo work with Jo Freya and Dawkins although classically trained actually sought out the "alternative" musical route. She now works with The Kitchen Girls, Hank Wangford, Orbestra and of course The Chainsaw Sisters.

This musical marriage of two cellos is a heady mixture of sounds running the whole gaunt of emotions this instrument can create. The Chainsaw Sisters are to the cello what Laurel Anderson is to the violin and Michael Nyman is to the piano. Consequently not everyone will enjoy it but that is what pioneering is all about huh?

The opening title "San Lander" has one cello playing the melody whilst the other cello is cajoled into the realms of percussion. The two women swap parts seamlessly and the technical challenges are played out by both musicians. "Katak Lompat" the first of the two traditional tunes featured is driven along with verve and panache that is just a hint of what is to follow. "Kisschase" is an exercise in pizzlcato control with fingers whizzing along the fingerboard with alarming alacrity! This is balanced by the second cello taking the percussive role with delicate use of the bow. The sleeve notes give credit to "their tolerant cellos" which is hardly surprising considering what these instruments go through!

Track 5 is one of my favourites; "Mr Jolly's Jig". This is the tune from hell. Whoever Mr Jolly is I doubt if he is a happy soul! Some extraordinary bowing, no sawing here, across the strings and a melody line that would waken the dead.

Another of my favourites is "Planet" which proves wit and humour can be expressed on the cello. "Swelter" is so evocative of heat, dust and sand. The two cellists plucking away for all their worth on this eerie, haunting melody. This is one of their strong points; the melodies are very catchy.

A brilliant first album, well balanced and produced. Not for the faint hearted, but if you like your music raunchy and challenging then rush out and buy this CD now. Better still, try and see or hear them live.

Saffron Summerfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 12 of The Living Tradition magazine.