Tim Gorman,
Celtic Loop
(Tay, 2004)

Much of the music on this Celtic musical journey has an epic, film-like quality about it, so I wasn't at all surprised when I read on the sleeve notes that classically trained Tim Gorman has worked on music scores for films such as Braveheart and Titanic in recent years. This is Gorman's first Celtic album. After a couple enjoyable listens, I found I had quickly tuned into the lyricism of the gentler compositions, as well as the stirring, rhythmic qualities of the more rousing tunes (all composed by Gorman).

It was good to see such well-respected collaborator's names among the album credits -- some of the acoustic world's great musicians are here with him! Remember Darol Anger (violin) and Mike Marshall (acoustic guitar/mandolin/mandocello) from their Windham Hill era all those years ago? It was great to see their names there. I also recognised Eric Rigler -- he's the piper/whistle-player/flautist here -- a gold-medal winner on Highland pipes, he's also worked with Alasdair Fraser and on the Braveheart film score, too. Last but not least is percussionist Peter Maund, who again has collaborated with Fraser.

Despite the wealth of acoustic talent here, this isn't a purely acoustic album. Gorman uses many pop elements in these compositions, frequently adding electronic loops and orchestral samples -- the latter are particularly effective on such lovely compositions as "Susan's Ballet," where the soaring orchestral samples coupled with Rigler's flute and Gorman's piano lend real emotional quality. "Celtic Soul" is another ambient, piano-led composition that introduces some fine pipe playing by Rigler -- I love the orchestral samples used here too -- they lend great beauty. Rigler adds textural detail with his haunting flute playing on the gently lyrical "Hearts of Dublin." Anger's violin playing is really expressive on tunes such as "Red Rider's Reels," and there's some finely crafted mandolin playing from Marshall on "Raising the Earth."

Though I prefer to hear real "live" (not sampled) strings in music, I think that they can be extremely effective in studio recordings, and they're used very well here. The beauty of this recording is that no sound is allowed to dominate the other -- the piano/guitar/mandolin/violin/pipes are all given plenty of breathing space, and loops, samples and percussion are used judiciously.

It all leaves me with the feeling that Gorman has a great knack for composing visual, highly lyrical music. "Susan's Ballet" is a beautiful piece that would grace any poignant film storyline!

- Rambles
written by Debbie Koritsas
published 11 September 2004