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NEIL BROWNING - "Scwîsbocs" - Sain SCD2211

This is a deliberate attempt to produce an album of Welsh Music for the melodeon ("scwîsbocs" in Welsh!) and is a varied and tuneful effort by Neil, who gives a very competent account of himself on his Hohner G/D and Salterelle C#/D "scwîsbocses" (is that the plural?). He's also able to demonstrate his considerable banjo skills - listen to "Y Delyn Newydd" (The New Harp). For English eyes, bilingual notes and tune titles are given and I'd say that for English ears, many of the tunes would be accessible to English box players. It's striking that this (technically) "Celtic" music seems more akin to that tradition than to the Scots and Irish, despite the "multiple overdubbed bodhrans" on "Y Hen Gwcw" - it isn't as bad as it sounds!

"Iach I ti Gymru (A Health to You, Wales) is a lovely simple arrangement of Neil's Salterelle treble side only and Paul Airey's tasteful guitar playing. "Ar Lan Y Môr (By the Sea) is an interpretation of an old song-tune, very enjoyable in itself, if a little "mystically Celtic a la Clannad. Tunes taken from old manuscripts seldom have immediate impact - maybe why they were forgotten in the tradition and there are a few here. Neil Browning doesn't shirk from imaginative treatment of "well-known tunes" and the album notes imply he doesn't take it all too seriously - a valuable quality in a box player!

I'm not sure what "well-known tunes" means in a Welsh context, but this is an original and thoughtful attempt to broaden a neglected tradition - there's no phoney nationalism here; the music is consciously Welsh and proud of it, all credit to those concerned.

Jim Bainbridge

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