‘NW’ from Niteworks - tradition mixes with invention

(January 27, 2016)

Rarely in my wildest dreams, well perhaps only the really outlandish ones, did I expect to write about a ‘traditional folk-Gaelic language-electronic club mix’. Perhaps that’s because few bands nw niteworks album coverwould contemplate the concoction or maybe tried it and didn’t get it right. That changes with ‘NW’ from Niteworks ... the result being an attractive, slightly eccentric, hypnotic mix of synthesised sound, instruments and song. Different yes, unusual certainly with a vibrant content, which on occasion is more suited to dancing that listening.

The album kicks off with an­ instrumental - ‘Beul na h-Oidhche’ - pulsating beat with a break of howling pipes, from there it’s a combination of beat and voice with Donald Macdonald on ‘Poor Ben’, Kathleen MacInnes singing ‘Maraiche’ and Alasdair White bringing his voice to ‘Taobh Abhainn’ - each building a combination of sweeping electronics and Gaelic song. The haunting and mesmerising ‘Aiseag Maol Rubha’, is for me the most enjoyable instrumental track with pipes taking the lead, conversely the electronics somewhat swamp the vocals on ‘Eilean’, then again ‘Somhairle’ with its tale of the Highland clearances and a destroyed of a way of life told by Sorley MacLean, one of the most significant Scottish poets of the 20th century, is right on target.

There is, as stated, an uncommon attraction to ‘NW’ with its unique mix of keys, synths and samples fused with drums, bagpipes. At times confusing but the mantra is turn up the volume and sail away with the mood. I suspect a live performance must be stunning.

Niteworks are Innes Strachan (synths, keys) Allan Mac Donald (pipes) Christopher Nicolson (bass) and Ruairidh Graham (drums) ... and that’s how tradition mixes with invention. Find them here:

Review: Tim Carroll

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