Brian McAlpine

Mutual Imagination Society

Own label

Brian McAlpine has been a familiar figure on the traditional music scene in Scotland for more than 25 years, as often as not in a supportive role, lending his accordion and keyboards strengths to groups including Session A9 and the Pearlfishers. Now, having contributed to dozens of albums, he is bringing his own voice as a composer to the fore with this impressive collection.

The desire here was to paint pictures with sound and McAlpine does that convincingly, creating variously ominous, grand and plaintive pieces that evoke the Scottish landscape and climate, both social and meteorological. He’s a deep thinker who can use music as a healing force – his meditative Soundtrack to Peace could equally be personal or global - but also as a means of celebrating joy, big occasions and the urge to dance.

To his own instruments he has added multi-tracked strings, fat horn arrangements, a bagpiping quintet and vocals, with the great Nigel Hitchcock adding saxophone on The Tumbler. Essing has the feeling of a Philly soul ballad and Blue Grass, from its lowering, imposing beginnings, moves into the uplifting, carefree country style hinted at in its title.

Rob Adams