The Rough Guide to Celtic Music


World Music Network RGNET 1155 CD; 69 minutes; 2005



Here we go again with another hotchpotch of a compilation masquerading under some kind of collective whole under the dubious concept of ‘Celtic Music’ and the major surprise is that it emanates from the usually reliable World Music Network.


The entire point about these ‘Celtic’ collections is that, rather than achieving their aim of identifying commonality between the various strands of music they sample (be it Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany, Galicia, Nova Scotia or wherever), they actually reinforce the differences between musical traditions and even within those traditions themselves.


Even more annoying perhaps is that the two compilers, both Canadians, maybe with an ear for the North American market, have selected some of the blandest, most middle-of-the-night, radio-friendly music you might ever not wish to hear. In particular, the tracks by Skolvan and Téada may be useful for insomniacs.


There’s also a somewhat saccharin ethereal thread to much of the material here, making listening to Ffynnon or Capercaillie the aural equivalent of wading through marmalade.


Sure, there’s some decent music on offer (especially from Mercedes Peón and Kornog), but no consistency in quality and not the slightest sense of the parts forming a coherent entity. The compilers also should also get their facts straight before going to print. Flook do not hail from Manchester (though one of the quartet does), Rúbai was not the group’s debut album and it’s Sarah Allen, not ‘Sally’; and how on earth can The Poozies be described as a ‘pan-Celtic’ outfit when three of their members are Scots and the fourth is English-born of Irish descent with a penchant for Scandinavian music?


As a Monty Python skit once remarked about a noxious wine, “This isn’t one for laying down, but for laying down and avoiding.”



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