Scottish Guitar Quartet,
(Circular, 2005)

Landmarks, a 2005 release by the Scottish Guitar Quartet, is a gem. This quartet will enthrall listeners, particularly those who have never heard their music. Although I have never been to Scotland, I feel a certain kinship with its varied musical forms, its history and culture.

Sean Connery, Mel Gibson's William Wallace or Liam Neeson's Rob Roy, as well as the late James Doohan's contrived Scotty aside (and we can all name others), Scotland is a country with a rich, proud heritage, and one that is finally independent of England's thumb in that it has its own parliament. That said, Scotland does not stay mired in the past, but looks to the future and its own part in it.

The Scottish Guitar Quartet is made up of four talented musicians: Ged Brockie, Nigel Clark, Malcolm MacFarlane and Kevin MacKenzie. Interestingly, the group in its liner notes thanks the Scottish Arts Council for financial backing. In today's difficult economy and with cuts being made to the arts, it is heartening to see that support is available for music such as this. Thanks are also given not only to friends/family/partners, but also to the listening and buying public. That is refreshing, and rare.

The first piece, "It's a Beautiful Thing," is intricately woven, as fine and silken as a summer spider web. Like a spider web, its core is iron, with an almost Renaissance flair. The piece was written by Brockie, with a solo by Kevin. Each solo on this 12-song CD is acknowledged right by the piece's title. No arrogant artists here. Another song on the CD, Nigel's "Ebony Coast," sounds like water rippling, with a certain Michel Legrand feel. Another song on this marvelous disc, Malcolm's "August Rain," combines the sound of a flamenco guitar with a plucked/samisen sound. Its bold combination of parallel sounds works, and so does the rest of this fine CD.

- Rambles
written by Ann Flynt
published 3 September 2005

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