'Though very much steeped in Irish musical traditions, Kila filter influences from all...
Malachy O'Neill 2003-12-03
If any group of musicians can be credited with breathing new life into Irish traditional music over recent years, then that group is Kila. Luna Park is their fifth studio album (not counting all their diverse side projects such as soundtracks, solo albums and books of Irish poetry), and it's an impressive work indeed.
Anyone familiar with Kila's earlier records, particularly the sublime Tog e go Bog e and its successor Lemonade and Buns, will be expecting great things.In many ways Luna Park lives up to and exceeds these expectations.In terms of the virtuoso musicianship and the sophistication of the arrangements, its in a class of its own.But this is something of a mixed blessing.
It is a fact, and I can tell you this with hand on heart, that going to a Kila concert is one of the most brutally euphoric live experiences a music fan can enjoy.Few other bands can claim to play with such relentless energy and commitment.The trouble is, you don't get enough of a sense of this from the refined productions on Luna Park.
What you do get, however, is a sequence of eleven pieces of music of astonishing variety.Four of these are songs, and seven instrumentals.There are sinuous, hypnotic airs, swelling celebratory dance marathons, and plenty of music that defies easy categories.Though very much steeped in Irish musical traditions, Kila filter influences from all over the world, and manage to maintain their own distinctive sound. Driving this sound is the bodhran of Ronan O Snodaigh, played alongside all kinds of other drums, shakers and makers of rhythm.
Sweet melodies come courtesy of Eoin Dillon's uileann pipes, the soulful fiddle of Dee Armstrong, and the heartbreaking sean nos singing of Colm O Snodaigh.Each of the seven-strong band can pick up a variety of instruments quite comfortably, and on any Kila record there's the feeling that a lot of fun went into its making. So reading the liner notes for Luna Park, we learn that the album features the unfamiliar sounds of instruments like the biscuit horn, bamboo sax and acoustic catarrh.
Leaving the curiosity value of this aside, Luna Park is as beautiful and accomplished an album of new Irish music as you will find.Worth buying, certainly, but only as long as you buy a ticket to see Kila live as well.