‘Diffractions’ by Ollie King – different, absorbing and intriguing

(April 11, 2017)

It has been two years since Ollie King released ‘Gambit’, and now he follows with ‘Diffractions’ ... with one foot firmly placed in the folk tradition, the other positioned wherever his eclectic feeling for music happens to rest, in this instance in the works of Handel, Haydn,Diffractions Ollie King 001 Holst, Purcell and Vaughn Williams. And before saying anything else, it’s important to recognise that this album, wherever its influences and experimentation originate is different, absorbing and intriguing, and definitive in its own right. King states: “The folk process is one of diffraction ... it’s this concept of transformation of ideas, music and customs that I’ve aimed to explore with this record.” Having listened intently, I would say: “Mission accomplished.”

The experience begins with the instantly nationalistic connotations of hymn tunes ‘Austria’ and ‘Thaxted’, however King transcends that position, presenting them as a unified whole. From there he moves into lovingly crafted renditions of ‘Sweet Lemeney’ ... with softly struck electric guitar ... and ‘Linden Lea’ harking back to its original setting. Throughout the album, King explores the nature of the folk process, so often simply accepted, here he examines the interaction of various expressions of tradition and message, and their impact on each other.

The illustration of dance and its connection across a broad base of music, comes through ‘Hornpipes’ with Handel and Purcell perfectly brought together, and the pairing of ‘White Joak/Adson’s Sarabande’ arranged by King and Tom Kitching, while ‘Roses’ by Cecil Sharp reflects his place as a composer as well as a collector. With a pensive take of a Nic Jones song ‘Ruins By The Shore’ and a sympathetic version of Lal Waterson’s distinctive ‘Winifer Odd’ the ‘diffraction’ takes yet another turn.

‘Diffractions’ arrives on one level and the longer you listen the more the levels unfold, and the more this album begins to mean.

Playing on ‘Diffractions’ are Ollie King (melodeons, duet concertina, electric guitar, piano, vocals) Tom Wright (bowed cymbals, bass guitar, vocals) Tom Kitching (fiddle) Rosie Hood (vocals) and Al Simpson (trombone).


Review: Tim Carroll

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