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CD REVIEW: Aly Bain & Ale Moller - Fully Rigged
By Ben Ohmart - 12/19/2001 - 02:07 PM EST

Artist: Aly Bain & Ale Moller
Album: Fully Rigged
CD Review: Why is this cd fully rigged? Quoting from Aly and Ale’s description of the opening tune, ‘The Full Rigged Ship,’ this dual-instrument music portrays ‘an old fiddler’s description of a sailing ship on the horizon, fully rigged.’ The 2 instruments: fiddle, and mandola (I believe), which is a mandolin with frets and octaves, giving every song an old world flavor that is rather impossible to replicate unless you have a supreme love for the style and the post-century as these guys have.

That ship never fully sails. That is, it does not ever sail out of sight. ‘Da Day Dawn’ is 7 minutes of ‘one of the oldest tunes in Shetland which was played to welcome in the New Year (Old Yule). The melody comes from Shetland’s Nordic heritage and has strong similarities with the Scandinavian cattle herding music.’ It’s also a swinging trad. tune once the fiddle fires up, and Ale passes on from whatever instrument opens up the piece back to his plucky mandola.

Ale’s instruments include all the unusual windy instruments: cow’s horn, willow flutes, wooden whistles, plus harmonica. Born in Malmo, Sweden, Ale has been an important part of Swedish folk music for many a year, swinging with the best bands, like Frifot, Filarfolket and The Nordan Project. He’s now a professor at Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki.

Aly’s just as well known, especially for his music on the UK’s tv series Down Home, and his band, The Boys of the Lough, a spry bit of folk music that’s been searing up the world for the past 30 years. He was awarded the MBE in ‘94 and in ‘99 became a Doctor of Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

This combination of doctoral know-how significantly challenges traditional Nordic music while coming to terms with today, and the highly desirable sounds of solid production and simple but perfect mixing. The players explain:

‘The old music of the Shetlands displays the islands’ Nordic lineage: settled by Norwegian farmers and the Vikings in the 9th century, and owned by Norway until the late 1400s. While many associate the Shetland and Orkney Islands with Scotland and Celtic culture, the music of this project reveals the real depth of its Norse heritage.’

The differing instrumentation and peaceful nature of the disc is world reason enough to try it on for size. It’ll fit.

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