lower cas history

‘k.d. lang is not a country artist.’ her press release earnestly and plainly puts it. ‘k.d. lang is not a pop music artist,’ comes the swift addendum. undue bracketing swiftly curtailed, misconceived mindsets given short shrift. Best then to concentrate on the purity of the music and its category-free, straight-to-the-heart trenchancy. Put plainly, k.d. lang‘s fifth album, lngenue, gloriously hits home from all angles like no generically hobbled album ever could.

As much we should expect from a 31-year-old Canadian who has constantly strived to redraw the gameplan that country artists especially female country artists - are expected to follow. Soon we shall see her on the big-screen, in German filmmaker Percy Adlon’s Salmonberries. Her leading role, as a gender and sexuality-blurring orphan in search of her family and herself, simply underlines lang’s maverick bent.The quiffs and the suits, the vegetarianism and the adrogynity, these are the cosmetic hooks that initially snag the casual observer way before the actual music and its ‘deviant’ (to Nashvilleian ears) intrigue takes hold. She may have paid homage to Patsy Cline’s sacred star by naming her band The Reclines in her honour, and by recording a whole bunch of country’s timeless high spots with Cline‘s old producer but as her prescient fourth album’s title put it, lang is as much Absolute Torch as she is Twang.

So Ingenue is loving and sexy, with a shaded intimacy and monochrome aura of classicism that betrays her listening material while making the record, namely Billie Holiday and Nat ‘King‘ Cole. How this will transfer to the stage remains to be seen. Suffice it to say that the shows will avoid the tongue-in-cheek glitz and roek’n’roll stagecraft that made her last appearances here such a zappy experience.

Instead we are offered ‘An Evening With k.d. lang‘, an altogether more ‘ambient’ show. Never diffident, always electrifying, she‘s sure to give a night to be remembered for a long time after the lights have faded. (Craig McLean) k.d. langplays Glasgow Royal

Concert Hall on Wed 6.

i l

m a


String sensations

Something very odd is happening to

I string quartets. Looked upon for

decades as the very epitome of intimate, deeply-engaged musical expression even by listeners devoted to classical music, the string quartet has often seemed a connoisseur's form, in which composers could speak their innermost (or, in the case of Dimitri Shostakovich, secret and officially forbidden) thoughts.

The groups who played this music were generally dignified, even austere, but that is where the changes are happening. The String Quartet is suddenly hip, or so the marketing divisions would like us to believe. Serious music now goes hand-ln-hand with T-shirt and jeans or designer outfits; the Brodsky Quartet pose, hackneyed rock'n’roll fashion, on a Harley Davidson, the Kronos Quartet issue (ID-singles, the Greene Quartet play Guns N’ Roses. Where will it all end?

to tears, say some, in the

Two wheels good: The Brodsky Quartet

l well-founded belief that dressing up the package will inevitably lead to unfulfilled expectations on the part of listeners. Others believe that blowing away the stuffy image will open up vast tracts of wonderful music to a new audience previously deterred by its formal image and presentation.

Time will tell, but the timeless music itself will survive either way. Mayfest. meantime, gives us all a chance to check out the new vibrancy of the medium with tour of the best young quartets in the business, beginning with the iconoclastic Greene Quartet from the USA (Sun 3), and moving on to The Hagen Quartet from Austria (Sun 10), The Balanescu Quartet from London (Sun 17), and The Brodsky Quartet from Middlesbrough (Sat 23). Four contrasting styles, and four very varied programmes which range from the father of the string quartet, Haydn, through to the aforementioned Guns N’ Roses adaptation. (Kenny Mathieson)


Paragon premi

The Paragon Ensemble

The world premiere of Ronald Stevenson’s new Violin Concerto by the 880 880 (with the erratic Yehudi Menuhin as conductor) will inevitably grab the lion's share of attention, but prior to that there is another important Scottish premiere lurking within the Mayfest programme.

The enterprising Paragon Ensemble do more than their share to promote and develop native music, and it is highly appropriate that they should be


the ones to celebrate the 70th birthday of composer lain Hamilton. The group will give the premiere performance of ‘Antigone' for wind octet, a newly-commissioned piece for the occasion.

Hamilton was one of a group of Scottish composers much-influenced by serial techniques in the 503, and caused something of a scandal at the Edinburgh Festival in 1959 (as John Purser recalled in a recent episode of Scotland’s Music) by writing an uncompromisineg rigorous work in that vein, the ‘Sinfonia ForTwo Qrchestras', to mark the Burns Centenary.

He returned later to a more ; tonally-centred style of composition, however, but continued to work on a grand scale, as in his impressive ‘Epltath For This World And Time' (1970), scored for three choruses and three organs. The two works presented by Paragon (the other is his earlier ‘Qctet’, also commissioned by the group) will be on a rather more modest but no less interesting scale, and will be accompanied by lannls Xenakls’s ‘Epel’. (Kenny Mathleson)

The Paragon Ensemble play Stevenson

Hall, RSAMD on Sat 2.

Gael force

As the old-style ccilidh dance band, with two accordions, a fiddle, piano, acoustic bass and snare drum increasingly becomes an anachronism, the youth of Scotland.

is packing into village halls to bop the night away to the new ccilidh bands; to the old music in modern dress, with electric bass and a rock drum kit, and an electric guitar laying the foundations of what has become the global pop undertow. On top, you put whatever instrumental sounds define your local culture.

In Scotland a fiddle and bagpipe will do, or an accordion. or a Gaelic vocalist. Too bad if the rhythmic and melodic subtleties get squared up in the beat.

The important message is identity. Audiences who would run a mile after exposure to your average borineg self-conscious folk club will flock in their thousands to hear borineg self-conscious bands like Runrig define them as Scots. Marketed with a pop iconography of lowering skies, Celtic/ gothic symbolism and portentous album titles. the new stream ofpop Scottish music strikes a common chord.

Wolfstone‘s last CD, Unleashed, has all ofthose traits but is saved by the infectious energy ofthc tunes. Ivan Drever‘s songs are not poetry but have an honest simplicity that easily counterpoints the reels, jigs and marches served up by top-class fiddler Duncan Chisholm, with Allan Wilson on Highland bagpipes, whistle and flute, Andrew Murray on electric guitar, and the Eaglesham brothers, Struan and Stuart, on keyboards and guitar. Neil Hay and John Henderson played bass

and drums on the session. _ The album was smoothly produced by Phil

3 Cunningham, but won't

a give you the feel oftheir

i live gigs, or the

enthusiasm of their fans. Dave Pegg ofJethro

Tull and Fairport

Convention, who knows a 1 thing or two about

f folk-into-rock, asked me

recently, ‘Have you heard an lnverness band called Wolfstone? Best thing I've heard in ages. I'm going to get them down on the bill at the Fairport Reunion at Cropredy.‘ But that‘s not till the summer. Catch them first at Mayfest. (Norman Chalmers).

Wolfstone play the City HalLr on Sun 3.

16 The List 2-1 April 7 May 1992