James Lindsay -Torus
Renowned Scottish composer and folk musician, James Lindsay continues to release and record genre defining records, and his latest, Torus is another absolute gem.
Blending contemporary jazz and folk into a beguiling sound, Torus takes a veritable whose who of contemporary Scottish folk musicians and effortlessly blends soundscapes, genres and musical dexterity to create an album that is a evocative as it is beautiful.
From the opening Lateral Roots, this album whirls and twists as jazz influences of improvisation and freewheeling mix with traditional Scottish sounds to great effect.
Tracks like Lewisian Complex, Cycles or The Smiddy are fine examples of this, and with a sympathetic collection of musicians James focuses his energy on his dextrous and peerless guitar playing, whilst adding in sounds from his Moog and synths to add dynamic colour and a sense of the different to this music.
Lush and warm and with clever interplay between the accordion of Angus Lyon and the sax of Norman Witmore, this fusion of jazz and folk norms see the band effortlessly genre hop across the 9 outstanding tracks on here.
As a composer and performer Lindsay manages to blend the best of both worlds to create a musical experiences that is incredibly fulfilling and has some real classic moments where the sounds coalesce and form to create timeless compositions that you keep coming back to.
With real verve and panache Lindsay has pulled off an absolute masterpiece, particularly in choosing to use traditional folk instruments to play the more complex freewheeling jazz parts, and there is some real funk and groove on here, like Lateral Roots where the drum and bass kick in underneath a sublime sax solo for instance.
Meanwhile on tracks like the wonderful Lewsiain Complex, named after a collection of some of the oldest rocks in the world heading out from the Hebrides up to Shetland, the free from experimentation creates a wonderful juxtaposition of bass and sax with some sublime funky sounds underpinning the fiddle that drives the piece along. Whilst the inclusion of Gaelic prose Clach-steidhe (Foundation Stone) written by Ewen Henderson and sung beautifully by Deirdre Graham, fits the mood of the music perfectly, as it evokes traditional Scottish tunes, and appears out of the chaotic sounds that build up to it, evoking musical memories of Mike Oldfields Ommadawn, before it fades again and the beat kicks back in.
James states in his press release that he’s influenced by legendary Celtic Musician, the late great Martyn Bennett (& indeed he’s won the Martyn Bennett Prize for Composition) whose melding of folk and dance music was so innovative, and it’s clear to see that from the musical evidence here that James is the spiritual heir to Bennetts genre busting crown.
Torus is an album that pulls together sounds from across different genres and disciplines and works so well because of the skill Lindsay has in pulling together a band that is able to take this music and bring into life in such an original and inventive way.
This is a fantastic album and one I highly recommend.