Keltik Elektrik,
Just When You Thought
It Was Safe to Sit Down...

(Greentrax, 2000)

Keltik Elektrik hasn't really learned from its previous mistake. The band's first album, Edinburgh Hogmanay Party Mix, promised but failed to deliver an album of unceasingly energetic tunes. Now their second release, Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Sit Down, offers a similar facade. But the music within, while pleasant enough, is fairly mellow overall. It certainly won't cause hordes of Scottish music fans to leap to their feet for a bout of wild dancing!

The blurbs on the album cover refer to a "second slab of untamed Celtic electro beat" and suggest that you're holding "one of the most unsitdownable Celtic albums of the year!" Those are supremely confident claims, and yet I was rarely moved to tap my feet, much less jump up and dance.

The album features Kathryn Nicoll on fiddle, Tony McManus on acoustic guitar, Mike Katz on small pipes and Simon Thoumire on concertina -- none of whom appeared on the first album. The only returning musician is producer Jack Evans, who plays electric and acoustic guitars, whistles, Hammond organ, electric piano, Ashbory bass, synthesizers, electric mandolin, banjo and beats. (Really, Jack, the beat box has got to go.) While there is some nice instrumental work on this album (I particularly like Evans' subdued whistles on "Caledfwich"), the overall effect relies far too heavily on synthesized and electronic sounds. This sounds like experimental work from the '70s and early '80s more than it sounds like Celtic rock from the '90s and beyond. ("The Old Pipe Reel" in particular starts off with a painful disco flashback.) The album sounds more like a soundtrack to a low-budget movie than a Scottish party mix.

If you're into Celtic rock, you can find better examples of it than are available from Keltik Elektrik. Seek it elsewhere.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 16 October 2001

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