Puirt a Beul
1991: Triple Earth Records/Ryko RCD 10196
The lovely collaboration of Talitha Mackenzie (q.v.) and Martin Swan. While it takes its name from the Scots musical tradition of a capella vocalization to circumvent a ban on traditional instrumentation with the percussive rhythms of nonsense syllables, something perhaps more accurately presented by Zap Mamas first album, nonetheless it got a nifty modernized, world-music treatment by Swan & Mackenzie. Swan took it further afield and into contemporary musical styles with the Mouth Music albums which followed, ironically reaching (in its latest incarnation, with the Mouth Music album The Scrape) a vocal-less album of traditional instrumentation sort of like a logical predecessor to this album, actually.
Which makes for a strange trip, but you wouldnt suspect the Möbius-Strip journey Mouth Music has taken when you hear this album. Its a nice blend of instrumentation and generally solo vocal lines with a deft and sure beat always sustained elegantly. Mackenzies vocals are a little sharp-edged (in timbre, not pitch) and thin by comparison to the instrumentation, but otherwise the production is perfectly suited to its material and components.
Favorite tracks on this? Martin Martin, for sure, because its just on the sophisticated side of goofy fun, and Mile MarbhAisg Air aGhaol, which here gets a windy-and-rainy-walk-on-the-moors moody presence overlaid on a pretty cold percussion pattern.
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.