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SIN E "It's About Time" Rhiannon Records RHYD5012

Could Banghra Folk be a new musical classification?

Sin E's latest album "It's About Time" follows on nicely from their eponymously titled 1995 debut. This new album contains many of the musical elements that made its predecessor such a ground breaking body of work. Heavy use of Indian percussion sits extremely well along side traditional Irish tunes and songs as if they have some distant relation, giving the album a World music feel, but neatly avoids drifting in clichés.

The opening set entitled "The Hard Hat Set" really paints a picture for the rest of the album, bringing together most of the instrumentation you'll hear throughout. Stefan Hannigan and Teresa Heanue, uilleann pipes and fiddle respectively, work together with great style and verve producing a sound to rival many of the respected masters of this field. Next up is "Wee Weaver" which was learned from the Singing of Dolores Keane. Taz's haunting vocals (a much overused term) handle this treatment with a truly spine tingling honesty. There are no more surprises in store until track six when the album takes on a totally new perspective; gone are Ansuman Bisnas and in comes ... wait for it ... DRUM AND BASS. One gets the feeling that this is where the band were leading from the opening chords of the album, and may even be its raison d'etre. It would be a truly innovative move had "The Afro Celt Sound System" not already explored this particular avenue on the "Whirl-Y-Reel" single. Speaking personally I love it. How I can imagine readers of a more conservative nature being quite offended, but I do feel that if traditional music is to remain relevant it has to explore current styles and technology whilst also remembering the source of its inspiration.

On reflection this album is a creative huge leap forward for Sin E but with this creativity, has come a lack of focus. Overall it has the feel of a learning curve album. I can't wait to hear the next disc, when they may have discovered their new direction fully.

Keith Witham

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