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Catriona McKay: Harponium (Glimster)

Catriona McKay

Catriona McKay

Harponium

(Glimster)

Harper Catriona McKay is a musical free spirit who can tackle wholly improvised works and has the ability to take traditional music out to the edge without sacrificing traditional forms and techniques at the altar of experimentation. Indeed, it is the easy intermingling of her fearless adventures with her folk roots that makes Harponium such an enriching, rewarding and uplifting listening experience. Essentially, as its name suggests, a blending of Scottish harp and harmonium, both played by McKay herself, into one new instrument, this is a triumph of brilliant musicality, joyous expression, daring harmonic shifts and moving melodicism. The harp sparkles, jinks and occasionally buzzes like some ancient African instrument while the harmonium brings both subtle and rich colouration, a certain endearingly clunky jauntiness, and a church organ-like grandeur. The sheer virtuosity of the opening Kronos Reel is simply dazzling. Harp Royalty Meets Banjo Czar drives McKay's clear, expansive tunefulness with an almost club music beat, and Irish Harp Hero sings exultantly. BBC Folk Awards take note.

Rob Adams

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