Kila - Luna Park
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Luna Park
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cd cover On Luna Park, Ireland's Kila consolidates its reputation for wide-screen, cinematic Celtic music, infused with New Age and symphonic strains. Kila's sound at various times evokes Capercaillie, Runrig, and Orealis, but the multi-layered density of their instrumentation, and particularly the vocals of Rónán Ó Snodaigh, ever on the verge of emotive cracking and more Spanish- than Irish-Celtic in tone, render it unique. So much so that, coupled with the often challenging and surprising structure of the band's compositions, numerous listenings are necessary for even a basic appreciation to emerge. Instrumental credits are also entertaining: I'm still trying to decode acoustic catarrh and slide bodhrán.

The leadoff track, "Glanfaidh Mé," is a long, segmented symphony, a galloping beat with supporting tablas resolving into a wild Celtic melody in unison on whistle and fiddle, Rónán Ó Snodaigh's vocal alternating between rapid-fire syllables and powerful ascending sustains. A central pause for figurative breath features dulcimer, before the pace rebuilds in a dramatic swirl of instruments and operatic vocals. A calmer, gently swaying beat animates "Hebden Bridge," with nearly-Caribbean percussion, acoustic guitar, and bass; a happy whistle carris the melody with characteristically dense support featuring piano, fiddle, and pipes. A fast, breathless beat returns on "The Mama Song" where Rónán Ó Snodaigh's vocal is again the center of attention, a button accordion skillfully woven into the mix.

One of the most striking tunes on Luna Park is "Beilin Meala," featuring a slowly swinging fifties-style march on vibrato guitar and Colm Ó Snodaigh's smooth and supplicating vocal fading into traded trills with low whistles at the end. On "Grand Hotel," a quick rhythm and marimba flow beneath a storm of pipes and whistles and an understated brass section emphasizes the chording for a bright, exultant effect. Colm Ó Snodaigh's gentle voice leads a sad a cappella melody in three-quarter time on "Maith Dhom," with other voices adding an almost liturgical backing. The title track offers another long medley, starting slow before launching into a dense, flailing gyre in the middle, a single melody reiterated anthemically with constantly morphing bass patterns, the final gentle tune laid atop this burgeoning maelstrom, a signature Kila effect.

Luna Park is a linear development from previous Kila recordings, a challenging and complex vision of contemporary Celtic music. - Jim Foley

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