Orion,
Restless Home
(Keltia Musique, 1998)

Here's a band loaded down with friends who collaborated on a mixed box of music. The CD book looks like a school yearbook with so many artists' pictures and write-ups. But isn't that the essence of "folk" music? We want to know who the folk are -- they're not just musicians. A little insight on personalities and musical relations is a bonus.

The core players in the group are Raquel Gigot of Belgian/Spanish roots, who swings with an accordion; Jamie McMenemy of Scotland, who does bouzouki and vocals; Marc Keyaert on keyboard and percussion; and Rudy Velghe, on fiddle, who loves Irish traditionals and collects old Flemish songs. Some former members of Orion who assisted in the recording of this album are Soig Siberil, guitarist; Nicholas Quemener, guitarist, flute player and singer from Brittany; and Bernard L'Hoir, piano player and arranger from Belgium. Other guest musicians on the album include Pascal Chardome, keyboard player; Pierre Michaud from Canada playing cello; Alain Gentry on bass guitar from France; Philip Catherine, of Belgian and Irish roots, who plays jazz guitar; and Donal Lunny on bouzouki and bodhran, from Ireland.

With a pool of talent like this and a fine selection of music picked for this album, entertaining arrangements resulted. There's also a great sense of fun emanating from the music, a lot of energy and stimulating sound. If I could chose a motto for this one it would be: Enjoy life, we're all in it together.

Alain Gentry is the only musician of this bunch whom I've ever heard live, and he gave an impressive display of his talents at that time. Here, he plays fretless bass on one cut, which is an Irish poem put to music by a French guitar player; and on the title cut, "Restless Home" (so named because that was the state the band's house was in throughout the recording of this album); and he plays as well on a few other selections.

Many of the pieces are original works. There are jigs and reels, a march, a few gavottes and some older Irish pieces, as well as gypsy wedding music they learned from a 1976 recording. There are influences of Brittany and Belgium, Ireland and southern Europe. Every piece selected enhances the album and the playing was far from mediocre.

These players are very good if you like the European sound and the CD is alight with energy. The selections are pleasurable, but not exotic; light-hearted, but not sentimental. It's definitely a professional product that would appeal to a wide range of tastes.

[ by Virginia MacIsaac ]
Rambles: 30 December 2001



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