WHILE Ímar is a name that conjures images of Celtic / World Fusion soundscapes, this album is certainly not that! C’ Presumably, the very regal looking chap that adorns the front of the CD is Imar, the Norse king who ruled over large chunks of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man in the mid-late 9th century. If so, this would neatly reflect the band’s origins – variously Irish, Scots and Manx (although all currently residing in Glasgow).
Just how they have found time to fit this wee beauty in is a mystery, though, considering how busy all the band members are with other projects. But maybe that’s the secret of why this is such a stunningly adventurous release.
Principally, the line-up is entirely traditional with bodhran, bouzouki, fiddle, concertina and uilleann pipes conjoined in a set of reels, jigs, polkas and slides comprised of original, contemporary and traditionally arranged compositions (largely Irish and Manx).
However, it’s what they do with the material that is absolutely breathtaking.
Warm, dextrous fiddle from Manxman Tomas Callister, blends beguilingly with the brightness of Ryan Murphy’s blistering pipes and the dry reed sounds of BBC Scotland award-winner Mohsin Amini’s cascading concertina lines.
As the album progresses, this combination (beautifully recorded by Adam Rhodes) allows space for taking melodic liberties underpinned by the tumbling beats of the two Adam’s (Rhodes and Brown) on bouzouki and bodhran, respectively.
If one was being churlish, and I’m not, some listeners may wish for perhaps one more slow-ish tune – however, l.don’t think that’s what these guys are about. The Scots word ‘gallus’ (meaning bold, stylish) well describes their approach to a tee (no doubt hot-wired by the incubator that is the Glasgow session scene!)
This is an album of such quality that comparisons with Flook, Lunasa, Solas, The Bothy Band and Lau spring immediately to mind. That good!? Absolutely. Take a listen to Speckled Heifer or The Full Orkney if you don’t believe me.