Moving Cloud, "Welcome: Who Are You?" (GO' Danish Folk Music, 2008)

The traditional music of Denmark is something of a melting pot, with influences not just from the Nordic countries but also from Celtic music as well. There has been enough cross-pollenation with Ireland for a session scene to take hold in Denmark, from which the band Moving Cloud emerged twenty years ago. Moving Cloud have been through a few changes in the intervening years, but their fine energetic sound makes them worthy of mention with the good Irish session-style bands from Ireland and elsewhere. (Please be advised that there was a Donegal-based band also named Moving Cloud -- the members of the two bands were evidently so fond of the same particular reel that they both named themselves after it -- that released two albums in the nineties. While I imagine they'd appeal to the same audience, they are two different bands, from different places, with different personnel.) Their newest album "Welcome: Who Are You?", produced by the venerable Dónal Lunny, came out in February.

The primary distinguishing element of Moving Cloud's sound is the heavy reliance on percussion. Svend Kjeldsen has been banging on the bodhrán and other assorted instruments for the band since their inception, and is the only person to be part of every Moving Cloud lineup to date. He provides a steady backbeat and groove to most of the pieces on the album. He is assisted on a couple of tracks by step dancer Mette Løvschal, a relative newcomer to the group. They collaborate on a unique recitation called "Anahorish... My Place of Clear Water," the most intriguing track on the album. Filling out the band's sound are long-time members John Pilkington (vocals, guitar, bouzouki) and Klavs Vester (flutes and whistles), along with the band's newest member, fiddler Christopher Davis Maack.

Outside of "Anahorish," "Welcome: Who Are You?" follows a tried and true pattern for albums of Irish session music. There are sets of jigs and reels, there are slower pieces, and Pilkington throws in a few songs for good measure. A lot of bands follow the same general approach, but Moving Cloud should still get noticed in the crowd because they play particularly well, with a healthy amount of energy and spirit. Now, I could understand it if somebody with a thousand or two Celtic albums might be more demanding than I am, but I actually haven't listened to a whole lot of new Irish-style CD's lately, and I found "Welcome: Who Are You?" to be a breath of fresh air.

Overall grade: B

reviewed by Scott

Reprinted with permission from The Green Man Review
Copyright 2008 The Green Man Review

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