Review Archive

'Hook' - Mary Macmaster and Donald Hay

(July 11, 2012)

For the uninitiated, a duo using harps and drums, percussion and vocals is not on the face of it a Hookguarantee for success. However the partnership between distinguished harpist Mary Macmaster and well-known drummer Donald Hay explores the combinations and proves the worth of going beyond face value. Their second album ‘Hook’ presents you with a unique musical experience and stands as a fine example of their art – and it tells inspired tales. OK, before someone tells me, I know there’s a fair amount of programming and sampling in there too, which gives the album intriguing depths and adds some enticing touches to their tunes.

For all its complexity and dexterity, ‘Hook’ is aptly named, for that’s just what this album does – extends a vivid to hook to pull you into its embrace. And once there its significance and lure remains with you for a long time. From the haunting ‘Hook’ through the thoroughly moving sense of loss and mourning held within ‘White Gate’ to the sad expression of the lament ‘Tha mi fo Churam’ made hypnotic by its heady drum beat. There are also sparkling instrumentals on this album - such joys as the highly engaging yet gentle ‘Stratherrick Sunday’, a pulsating version of that insistent tune ‘Arid Ranters’ by virtuoso piper Fred Morrison, and the subtle mystery of ‘Chimes’ with scintillating strings over stirring percussion. The stand out tracks are haunting and soothing ‘Breton’, and the mysterious splendour of ‘Stay With You’ made infinitely alluring by Mary’s pure and tantalizing vocals.

‘Hook’ mixes ancient and modern to perfection. The mix is eminently listenable and totally engaging. Listen to this music and concentrate on its exquisiteness - you will be rewarded with a fleeting glimpse of splendour you will listen to time after time. ‘Hook’ is released on 17 September 2012 on MDMC label, catalogue MDMC002 from Proper Music Distribution.

Reviewer: Dan Holland

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