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Buille - Buille

Buílle

Buílle

Compass Records 7-4450-2

Available from Compass Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com)

Bluegrass connoisseurs, know your roots!

This interesting ensemble blends a time-enshrined music style with twists informed by various modernisms from the past four decades. This, from a trio of young gents, no less. On the way from the age of saga to the present, Buílle has embraced the best latter-day inspissations of myriad modes and permutations. The imprint of Celtic music upon the American landscape is unmistakable and this group's stripped-down presentation focuses a lens on various elements much more clearly, allowing the listener to consider aspects through a jeweler's loupe.

In any threesome, a single instrument usually dominates, with flanking axes splitting duties between rhythm section and co-leads. That's the case here. In the spotlight is Niall Vallely's deft handling of the concertina, a free-reed instrument often called a "squeezebox" (as are all accordions). The concertina's much smaller than a standard accordion, though, so the sound's more delicate and, as Vallely shows, a bit friendlier to manipulation, as when he utilizes minute interruptions in the stream of sound almost in the same fashion a "glitch" electronicist would.

Jazz informs a decent percentage of the spin, but, as I've stated elsewhere, the procession from Celtic to bluegrass to Dixie to jazz isn't difficult to trace and, in such bands as Buílle, there's finally an opportunity for the two ancestors to trade back and forth, rather than in one-way linearity. Nonetheless, the interaction with neoclassicality is a bit surprising, as 1st of August veers into serial minimal territory. Appropriate, then, that the follower cut should be a waltzy ballad, Eleven Eight, a lyrical lament at first taking its time, along the way strongly gesturing towards Oregon and Will Ackerman, then, surprisingly, sprinting into Astor Piazzola territory.

Mullacreevie echoes Steeleye Span and several sections wax Canterbury-esque. Longnancy's dives into trad dance music and one can envision Charles Durning stepping the paces to its anthemic composition. Gleann an Phréacháin initially adopts a cloak of majesty atop Niall's brother Caoimhin's harpsichordish piano, quickly resolving into earthier airs. Throughout, Paul Meehan plays the string instruments (guitar, bouzouki) while Brian Morrissey sits in on the percussive bodhran. The result is never crowded.

Elsewhere, the NorthSide label, frequently with marvelously appetizing results, is experimenting with folk musics in the manner demonstrated here. One of the most striking combos in any of this is the extraordinary Bad Haggis, a fulsomely energetic context, but Buílle represents the more academically studied flip-side drenched in restrained experimentation, capable of kineticism and complexity while denuding the often whirlwind trademarks back down into structural basics. The Vallely Bros. and their friend now become a significant element in a small vanguard evolving the mother musical-tongue.

Track List:

  • The Wrong House
  • Grappa Groove / Nina's Jig
  • Farewell to McCarthy's
  • Singing Stream Air
  • 1st of August / 2nd of August
  • Eleven Eight
  • Mullacreevie (Niall Vallely) / Dunmore Lasses (trad., arr. by Vallely / Vallely / Meehan)
  • Longnancy's (Niall Vallely) / Winnie Hayes' Jig (trad., arr. by Vallely / Vallely / Meehan)
  • Gleann an Phréacháin (Vallely)
  • Tiarnán and Stephanie's / Dark Loanin
All songs by Niall Vallely except as noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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