Damian Helliwell's Metta
Best known for his work with Gaelic supergroup Daimh, mandolin and banjo player Damian Helliwell's highly innovative new project, Metta, brings together some of Scotland's best-known musicians with a debut as exciting as any in recent years. Recorded in the self-taught intrumentalist's self-built straw bale house and studio on the Isle of Eigg, Metta brings avant-garde sensibilities to a traditional scene that has long been proving that genre definition to be something of a misnomer. Opener Phi showcases the sensitivity of Eilidh Shaw's fiddle with the jazz-tinged percussion of Donald Hay, the two accompanying Helliwell in a gently emotive exploration of instrumental hierarchy. Awkward Phrase 1 follows, blending piano with mandolin in a composition that belies its Celtic roots. Almost Galician in feel, this haunting air sets up the listener for Fear of Askaval, an exploration of place that this time feels firmly rooted in the West Highlands. Metta is available as a free download from www.metta-music.com. We await the full album with eager anticipation.