July-August 2007

ARTIST: CAOIMHIN O’RAGHALLAIGH

TITLE: where the one-eyed man is king

LABEL: stateofchassis 

RELEASE DATE: 2007

By Brooke Alberts

Pg 11 CD Review Caoimhin.jpg

If you are familiar with Kitty Lie Over, the masterful recording of Irish traditional music by Mick O’Brien and Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh, you may have a sense of the melodious pulse that Caoimhin brings to this music. His new CD where the one-eyed man is king contains a series of jewel-like expressions that combine his sensibilities in the field of Irish traditional music with his own explorations in composition, recording, and art. This is an all-Caoimhin production, and he plays fiddle, hardanger fiddle, whistles, piano and other percussion on this recording.

As one would expect, what he’s added to the traditional pieces is lovely. He gives the lullaby Fead an Iolar a rhythmic, uplifting drone, and treats Braes of Balquidder to a high, tip-toeing accompaniment. “Dun do Shuil” is melancholy and expressive, and The Old Waltz has a lilting, time-traveling quality to it.

His own pieces are dreamily inviting and evocative. It’s About the Rhythm of her Toes glimmers and then is gone much too quickly, like a firefly. The sprightly March of the One-Legged Dog morphs into something like a medieval pavane. In The Mole Man of Hackney (a reference to a fellow addicted to tunneling beneath his own neighborhood) there’s a sense of dark spaces concocted with notes of various timbres left to ring and vibrate against one another. Siochain. contains simple yet alluring melodies with a palpable sense of nostalgic ache. Wild Goose Chase is fun and dancey, and in Bright and Shining he uses harmonics against pizzicato to evoke a glint of sunlight that strikes the eye.

This CD is a marvelous synthesis of traditional and contemporary sensibilities, and a thing of beauty to listen to.

Available at CDBaby