Vamm: Vamm

SummaryVAMM

Format:  CD

Genre:  Folk (Traditional, Celtic, Instrumental)

Tracks: 10

Playing time: 45 minutes

Availability (out of 3): **

Related website(s): (1)  http://www.catrionamacdonald.co.uk;   http://www.patsyreid.com;   https://maritandrona.bandcamp.com

http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2013/07/vamm-interview

My rating: 9/10

I like…   The vibrancy, the interweave of the instruments, the uplifting, upbeat tunes

I’m less keen on…  I’d have liked a bit more information on the sleeve – minor gripe!

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I was lucky enough to spot the CD in my local library and, having listened to it (was £1.00 ever better spent?!), couldn’t resist purchasing my own copy. That tells its own story of my liking for it.

Who?

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I’d already come across a CD by one of this trio-collaboration in the same way (and with the same initial low expense and pleasing end-result!) – “Over the Moon” by Catriona MacDonald.

When you discover a fiddle player who hails from Shetland, as Ms MacDonald does, you know that you are likely to be in for a treat. She also performed as a member of the band Blazin’ Fiddles.

 

unusuals_me1I’m sorry to say that apart from this album, I haven’t yet listened to the playing of Patsy Reid.  With both traditional and classical skills, Patsy has a remarkable command of her instruments (violin, viola and cello), and after playing with various other artists has now formed her own band.

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I’m struggling to find much about Marit Falt other than that she is Norewegian born to Swedish parents. Besides playing mandola she also plays cittern and sings, and has collaborated with a number of other musicians, including Rona Wilkie.

The album…

comes in card packaging. One photo on the inner sleeve shows the three ladies holding hands and dancing, and it’s easy to imagine them doing this listening to their recording being played back! The tunes (typically for the genre, over half are a composite of two or three individual ones) are largely non-traditional in authorship, though with very much a traditional feel to them.

It’s not easy to review an instrumental-only CD in detail. How do you describe tunes and sounds in words? The task would also involve repetition, as although in my opinion the album is packed with gorgeous music and arrangements, a similar overall feel is conveyed throughout.

This shouldn’t be construed as criticism or as an implication that the album is “samey”, however!

I’d have preferred a little more information about the band and its members, but there you go. Apparently the band name comes from an old Shetland word for “bewitched”. Suffice to say that any magic they produce is entirely benign!

The tracks

I’ll start with some general observations.

Sometimes the instruments meld together beautifully and at others harmonise distinctly and delightfully, and the energy and exuberance give me the impression that the three players had a blast playing together. The playing of each appears to combine and complement, never to compete.

As with all quality fiddle/viola playing I feel here as if my heart-strings are being bowed as well as the instrument strings. I’m not talking so much about the tune as about the expressiveness of the playing.

With any good music, playing the right notes (and in the right order!) is only one element. The other is to extract good tone and sound (again, easier to recognise than to describe), and this requires great technical ability and understanding of – and empathy for – the music. Ability and empathy grace this album in abundance.

The Duchess

is fairly typical of what follows, with strummed mandola setting the tempo. The mandola also adds a hint of percussion, along with some foot stomping, while Patsy and Catriona’s playing weaves in and out and in harmony, not unison. Some sections of the tune are exuberant; others are slower but sweet-sounding.

 

Castle Grant 

has unison mandola and fiddle playing at the start, creating a lovely full sound, and the second fiddle plays in harmony.

The Ostrich

has a lower-pitched, staccato mandola strum and some intricate fiddle playing. I find this a very lilting, rousing tune.

Concluding comments

The album cover makes a number of claims. Does it fulfill them? Is it (as one of the tunes is named) “The Winning Ticket”?

“Beautiful tunes…” – undoubtedly, yes!

Sumptuously sophisticated…” – yes – but not in an artificial, highbrow sense.

“Fuelled by…”- yes! It isn’t just played, it is indeed fed by…

“A shared passion…” – yes! This isn’t just playing, it appears to be a felt part of each of the players.

“And exquisite discernment…” – yes! They each have a feel for the tunes they play and the ability to enhance them without spoiling them by overdoing them or using them to showcase their own abilities.

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I’d be surprised if listening to this CD doesn’t set your feet tapping. The overall mood is upbeat and uplifting, and although it is all instrumental music there is a variety of tempos and styles represented.

If you have any sensitivity for “folk” instrumental music and for fiddle/viola playing or “Celtic” music in particular, I’m sure you would be delighted. My rating reflects my habit of pressing the replay button after some of the tunes, as well as my overall delight in the album.

My rating: 10/10

 

Also recommended: Catriona MacDonald: “Bold” and “Over The Moon”.

NOTE: as well as the larger scale on-line suppliers, it may be worth checking out (and supporting!) some specialist folk music suppliers, such as http://www.musicscotland.com and www.codamusic.co.uk  

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Photo Credits

Please note that although I do not make money from this blog and am simply seeking to share my enjoyment of music and other media, I am anxious to credit any images included.

Section “Who?” Catriona MacDonald:  https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=vamm+folk+band&rlz=1C1JZAP_enGB722GB722&espv=2&biw=1034&bih=615&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiP-KiGyJbRAhUMdFAKHQkRDtwQ_AUICSgE#imgrc=9ExfnuP6nu7XxM%3A

Section “Who?” Patsy Reid:  http://www.patsyreid.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/unusuals_me.jpg

Section “Who?” Marit Falt:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/kmlivemusic/11113499584

Section “Concluding comments”:  https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=vamm+folk+group&rlz=1C1JZAP_enGB722GB722&espv=2&biw=1034&bih=615&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjO-dGc2pbRAhUed1AKHbiuBQgQ_AUICCgD#imgrc=5xfOq2eNRycIFM%3A

 

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Author: mostlyacousticsteve

My musical interests are mainly (but not exclusively) “folk” and acoustic blues music. I aim to publish a post about every two weeks. Although I'm in my 50s I'm new to blogging - please bear with me. My other interests are playing acoustic guitar, photography and wildlife.

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