Flatfish Records (www.flook.co.uk)
Flook's first studio CD follows on the exciting success of their 1997 Live! EP, and Flatfish is manna to lovers of skillfully played, predominantly Irish tunes. The Flook formula is a winning one, and it has changed only slightly: take two instrumental masters of flutes, whistles, and blowey things (Sarah Allen and Brian Finnegan; the original lineup also included Michael McGoldrick), and layer them over guitar or bouzouki (Ed Boyd) and bodhran (John Joe Kelly, new for this session). Flook's bottom line is that you've got to love the flute; and if you don't, well then, you will!
You'd expect plenty of energy from a young band, and Flook is capable of delivering blistering performances. The "Eb Reels" is an exhausting workout featuring brilliant flute and alto flute playing by Finnegan and Allen, and a running bodhran line miked to studio perfection. But whirlwind dazzle is not all of Flook's game. It's wonderful to hear Sarah Allen in any context. Her enviable flute and accordion work featured strongly in the bands The Barely Works and Big Jig, and the eclecticism of those earlier outfits wends its way into the Flook mystique: a waltz set on the album is graciously handled, and the closing "Flutopia" incorporates both Spanish and Macedonian influences. Flook's arrangements are nothing less than first-rate and, above all, joyous. Allen and company should be commended for crafting an instantly recognizable sound that expands the boundaries of instrumental acoustic music. - Lee Blackstone
Song: "E-flat reel"
©2000 Flatfish Music, used by permission
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