Aes Dana - Frontiera
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Aes Dana
FolkClub Ethnosuoni (

cd cover There is something about Irish music that seems to trigger a sense of tradition. In some ways, it's a gateway to rediscovery. Musicians fall for the charms and emotions of Irish music, begin to play and then find themselves drawn into their own culture.

Aes Dana stands with a foot in two countries: Frontiera is a 45-minute long, 13-track album which leans on Ireland, yet presents contrasting facets of Sicily. By incorporating elements of traditional music from both places along with some jazz and rock influenced playing, the band has created an absorbing recording that sounds both familiar and foreign at the same time.

"Zingaro," as an example, starts with a roll on bodhrán, followed by a rhythm guitar. In comes accordion and pipes in distinctly Irish style (well, what more would you expect from special guests Mairtin O'Connor and Paddy Keenan?), but behind them is a driving bass and drum accompaniment. The saxophone and harp draw in sounds often associated with North Africa. Between them, they develop an ebbing-and-flowing hypnotic effect by bringing one instrument after another to the fore. The result is an infectious, compelling track - far from cluttered and chaotic.

This mixing-and-matching is present throughout the album, including on the vocal tracks. Between them, the seven members of the band play more than a dozen instruments including harp, violin, flute, bouzouki and more, as well as a variety of percussion instruments. To that you can add a handful of guests.

The arrangements and production create a warm kaleidoscope of sound that ranges from the complicated to the simple (as found on the near-minimalist approach to the disturbing song, "Kill Your Love"). Aes Dana has recorded a fascinating album with many layers; there seems to be something new to discover with every listening. - Jamie O'Brien

CD available from cdRoots

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