Terra Folk,
StereoFolk Live
(Music Net, 2001)

Terra Folk is a group of accomplished musicians who perform a very wide variety of ethnic folk songs. The bulk of this CD was recorded live in Slovenia, which makes a great change from something live at Caesar's Palace or The Grand Ole Opry. The band is like a musical National Geographic magazine in the list of countries whose music they celebrate.

This can be a blessing and a curse in producing a CD. Regardless of how liberal we are and how much we want to appreciate the sounds and culture of other lands, the familiar is always going to get that extra brain cell. To get such prejudice out of the way, I will admit that the 8-minute "Irish Mix" was the track that I enjoyed most. Again I will point out that this is because I was on familiar ground.

The other tracks needed extra listening and I promise that I gave them the attention.

"Happy Nigun" is a beautiful, upbeat number. It has the Middle Eastern cadence we associate with music at a Jewish wedding. The scant notes offered with the CD make further analysis impossible. "Duck Fight/Tarantella" recalls Italian holidays, and when we got past Donald Duck on speed at the start it settled into a very well-performed piece.

"Odessa Bulgar" brought us a very Hungarian sound and "Turkish Impro League" is self-explanatory. There is also a well-presented version of "Scarborough Fair" on the album.

This is a live album -- in the main -- and as such it suffers from a certain overindulgence that is great in a club but when heard in a living room -- in a cold sober state and over repeated listening -- begins to irritate. This is as true for the Beatles, U2 or Terra Folk: comic asides work once and in context.

This CD is good value as it gives the listener a tour of many cultures in a short sitting and the group is made up of excellent performers. Unfortunately, more than most albums, the listener will use the remote control or programming capability of the CD player to choose a few favourite tracks. Having said that, I'm sure different listeners will choose different favourites.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 9 March 2002