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Album reviews with Michal Boncza: March 12, 2019

Latest releases from The Little Unsaid, AKA Trio and Gnoss

The Little Unsaid
Atomise
(Reveal Records)
★★★★★

FROM the first song, musically and lyrically, it’s clear that this album has an exceptional musical DNA.

Rare is the intimacy such as that offered by John Elliot’s poetry in which mental health is addressed with a painful honesty that’s nevertheless imbued with hope, with the gentle melancholy drawing in the listener irresistibly.

The soft timbre of Elliot’s voice has an impressive range from the barely audible and confessional to soaring, epic crescendos.

On the exquisite Road, Ignited — “I tango with the fear/as the gods take aim” — or Spiderman, the symbiosis of voice and instruments is spine-tingling.

Tim Heymerdinger embroiders it all with stunning patterns of virtuoso drumming while Alison D’Souza (strings and effects) and Mariya Brachkova (moog bass and backing vocals) add sensitive and delicate colouring throughout. A triumph, .

The Little Unsaid are touring from May to November, meanwhile this an album to treasure.


AKA Trio
Joy
(bendigedig)
★★★★★

IF YOU despair about the daily capitalist media hatchet job on Jeremy Corbyn you need Joy — it soothes while restoring faith in internationalism.

And prepare to be astonished. These free-flowing songs and instrumentals dazzle with a rich musical, almost monastic, minimalism where less actually does mean more.

The ebullient, combined virtuosity of Antonio Forcione (Italy) on guitar, Seckou Keita (Senegal) on kora and lead vocals and Adriano Adewale (Brazil) on percussion mesmerises throughout.

Forcione’s guitar is masterfully measured yet intricate, Keita’s vocals effortlessly meander through the melodies while Adewale’s gentle syncopation on percussion delights.

The jointly composed Joy sets the tone with its meditative tempo and Baracoa transports you to eastern Cuba. Uncle Solo pays tribute to kora legend Jali Solo Cissokho while The Beautiful Game longs for the lost “soul footie” played by Pele, Garrincha, Gerson or Socrates.

Album of the year contender.


Gnoss
Drawn from Deep Water
(Blackfly Records)
★★★★

THIS quartet’s instrumental excellence on fiddle, flute, whistle, bodhran and acoustic guitar delivers a highly melodic and fulsome sound — an uneven proposition for anybody who is not strictly a folk devotee.

There’s an uplifting energy built around Graham Rorie’s masterly fiddle theme on Hasse A, while The Duchess is structured around an expressive set of colourful flute variations delivered by Connor Sinclair.

Although Drawn from Deep Water is predominantly instrumental, Aidan Moodie’s monochromatic voice on Three Shores, Sea Widow and The Five of Spades makes a good fist of it, well-aided by his own distinct guitar playing.

The fast, energising Voodoo is driven by a eloquent conversation between Craig Baxter on bodhran and Sinclair on flute.

Gnoss rely on a tried-and-tested folk band formula as a vehicle for innovation of which perhaps there is not enough, just yet, to make it irresistible.

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