Robin Bullock,
Midnight Howl
(Maggie's Music, 1995)

Robin Bullock is not only marvelously multi-talented, his skill is equally distributed amng the instruments he plays. Midnight Howl is a collection of acoustic instrumentals that serves as a showcase for this gifted musician.

In addition to Bullock's performance on 6- and 12-string guitars, cittern, mandolin, fiddle, viola, pennywhistle, piano and bass guitar, much credit is due to the musicians who provide backup. Steve Bloom plays an array of percussion instruments: djembe, ashiko, dumbek, congas, shaker and ganza, and the rhythm adds an exotic element to what are mostly traditional Celtic and American tunes. Myron Bretholz (bodhran), Chris Norman (wooden flute) and Sue Richards (Celtic harp) round out the musicians.

Bullock mixes traditional music with his own compositions in some of the tune sets. I would be hard pressed to distinguish which was which, for they blend together well. His own compositions include "Spider" -- arachnophobic listeners can relax, it's about a bicycle -- plus "Rascal's Castle," which Bullock describes in the liner notes as "New Age Celtic mambo," and "Lost Hollow Lament," a poignant tune that celebrates the quiet spots that refresh our souls while mourning the rapid disappearances of such places. There is a good balance of slow and reflective music and lively toe-tapping tunes, a fine mix of the new and the familiar.

There isn't much "grit" in the music on this CD, but that doesn't make it "Celtic lite," either. Bullock's musicianship and that of his colleagues lends depth and thoughtfulness to each track. The music on Midnight Howl is food for the soul and the heart.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 19 April 2003

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