Thursday, January 28, 2010

Celtic Corner: MALINKY!

Sooooooooooo I'm going to see the Scottish group Malinky this fine weekend with fun friends and surely fun times. Malinky is comprised of three Scots, an Irishman, and an Englishman playing traditional tunes from the British isles. Often their tunes are nearly lost through time until Steve rediscovers them and makes them Malinky's. There's melodies are often haunting and sometimes downright fun, but they're always flawlessly brilliant. Fiona Hunter's beautiful voice can sound fun and light like on "Shipyard's Apprentice" or dark, foreboding, and mournful like on "Edom O'Gordon." Steve Byrne's love of traditional music comes through in every note he plays bouzouki and guitar and sings. It's infused in his body, a part of him, and you know it. Mark Dunlop, who plays tin whistle, bodhran, and other percussiony instruments, with an Irish lilted voice aches and moans with the heartbreak of the Irish plight in "Dark Horse on the Wind." Dave Wood's stunning guitar playing has earned him prestigious gigs such as playing at the premiere of Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. Mike Vass's fiddle playing is top notch, infectious throughout Europe. When Malinky is off tour, he teaches summer music programs, inspiring young musicians to be as great as he is. Often he writes the fiddle tunes on the albums, and he's soon to release a solo album of live music, such as his Celtic Crossroads highlight. I promise you that you will at least think that Malinky is deserving of the adjective "quality" in reference to their music, even if you're not a fan of the music. You could consider Malinky preservationist due to their use of Scots-English and love of traditional tunes, especially since Byrne is part of the Scottish Arts Council. Unfortunately there's really not much Scottish Gaelic. Check it out. If you like more upbeat, bluegrassy folk tunes, you might like the first two albums The Last Leaves and 3 Ravens more. But if you're into crisp, more traditional, dark sounds, turn to the most recent albums The Unseen Hours and Flower & Iron. Expect a new album by the lineup of Flower & Iron soon. They've recently recorded in the studio before heading here to the States for a small Midwest tour.

Update: Malinky was awesome. We were fortunate to have a preview for the next album. It's a tune called "Young Emslie" with Fiona on lead vocals, and it's one of my most stunning songs I've ever heard...a nice murder ballad. Fiona learned it from the deceased singer Lizzie Higgins. Unfortunately I'm having difficulties tracking the song down. This is often the problem with finding earlier versions fo Malinky's songs. They revive tunes that have been lost for years. Good to see them again and a good time after the show. It turns out that nearly all of them teach classes when off tour. How adorable.

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