(Flatfish, 2002)

Rubai is a beautifully packaged and excellently produced CD. The array of instruments will convey the virtuosity of the performers and the depth of sound to be expected. To the core talents of the four members of Flook with their guitars, mandolin, bouzouki, bodhran, flutes and accordion are added guest performers with bass, fiddle, trombone, shaker and sogo.

I hope that the band will not be upset if I call this an excellent "chill out" album, to use the phrase most bandied about in recent years. I use the description in the best possible sense. This is a CD to put in the machine, draw the shades and relax after a hard day at work or a stressful journey. And, although I describe the album in "chill out" terms, it is not a "rest your head" CD.

Taking my magnifying glass to the credits after an initial listen, I was amazed and delighted to find that most of the tracks are not traditional. This will, I hope, be taken as a tribute to the composers.

"Beehive" is a magnificent track with a pulsing beat. The thought that came to me as I listened was of a "sweet bodhran," if such a description is possible. "Glass" is one of those tunes that come close to acting like a drug. With that flute filling the room I saw a sunrise, and as the tune opened out instrumentally it was like the sun illuminating a landscape at dawn. "Granny in the Attic" is a title sounding so traditional I could almost imagine the sound before the music started. Boy, was I wrong. That trombone added a touch of real class. There are definite Chieftain influences to be hear in "Ramnee Ceilidh" and a refreshing clarity of production on "Kalamantinos."

This is a very worthwhile production that showcases a group that I imagine would be an experience in live performance. No live band can be truly captured on the plastic disc but this comes close.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 24 August 2002

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