ROCK The High Fidelity Glasgow: King Tut’s, Thu 16 Apr; Edinburgh: Cas Rock, Fri
SeanpDickson is a man with a mission. Several missions, in fact, most of which he reckons can be accomplished under the auspices of his new band The High Fidelity.
'You look up high fidelity in the dictionary and it says "pureness and faithfulness of sound",' he says. ’It sounds like a motto on a school badge. I was thinking "what is the most obvious name for a band?" I can’t believe no-one has ever called a band The High Fidelity before. You’d think in the 505 or 605 someone would have called a band that.’
What? When a name like Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark was still up for grabs? Anyway, it transpires that pureness and faithfulness of sound is not top of the mission agenda.
’I wanted two bands within one band — the analogue and the digital thing,’ he continues, referring to the fact that all releases by The High Fidelity, including current single ’Come Again’, will be evenly split between the two recording techniques.
’I've got shitloads of old equipment and I've got some new equipment. I like the sounds of both. I wanted to be in band that was 90% sound, 10% songs but it's part of my psyche to write catchy songs. I’ve tried to be arty but I can’t do something that sounds like a drone. The
The High Fidelity: speaking out soon
idea is that sounds are something that will complement the melody, but I want it to jar somewhere.’
Part of this ubermission is Dickson’s desire to create a new studio effect which will become universal musical currency. More immediately, he is championing the resurrection of the omnichord as the millenial instrument of choice — ’it was a children's instrument in the 705; they had a display of them in Woolies in Bellshill. It’s a touch sensitive instrument; you stroke the sonic keys. I want to do an omnichord LP of cover versions’ - and the use of Bollywood strings rather than the current classical string arrangement overkill. Dickson went ot India to record with a Bollywood orchestra for The High Fidelity’s album Demonstration which will be released later this year.
All this activity and enthusiasm is a far cry from the Sean Dickson of a few years ago, when his previous band, former chart regulars The Soup Dragons, finally petered out.
’I was really fucked up then,’ he says. ’I went through a period of not talking to anybody. I used to walk about Glasgow ignoring everybody and got really disillusioned by the whole thing. I became resentful. Now I’m really looking forward to the day when I’m no longer Sean Dickson of The Soup Dragons and his new band!
Just keep stroking those sonic strings and it’s bound to happen. (Fiona Shepherd)
Andrew Cronshaw &
Edinburgh: Pleasance Theatre, MOD 6 Apr.
Andrew Cronshaw producing music from a still, quiet heart
Andrew Cronshaw started playing the zither when he came to Edinburgh as a student way back in the early 70s. From an early love of Highland music he moved on to lndian shawms, lrloldovan and Native American flutes, Chinese gongs and JLlSl about any other non- mainstreani musical instrument he c‘Ould lay his hands on His mastery of so many instruments has seen him dubbed as England's first disciple of world mUSic But his speciality is ScandinaVian music, espeCially the mu5ic of Finland, and its national instrument, the tiny traditional harp-like kantele.
'lt’s a very dt’llCalOIy-VOKGU instrument, and it's the key to the whole understanding of the Baltic senSibility,’ explains Cronshaw. ’lt’s much older than the polkas and the fiddle traditions, it comes through With the sagas.’
Cronshaw is JOiriing forces \‘Jllll Minna Raskinen, the Finnish kantele expert for an evening exploring the shared sen5ibi|ity of the different musical traditions from the far north of Europe
'I’ve known Minna Raskinen a long time, and thoth there are more famous, technically superior kantele players, she’s Willing to travel and she communicates well,’ says Cronshaw. 'Anyway, I don't want to be known as that dickhead who brings tunes and instruments from here, there and everywhere So I'm now bringing a whole musician'
'What we are dOing together is to take something very small and make it focused. Very much 'rmiiish and Gaelic.’
Though they’ll be performing one or two numbers With Wendy Stewart on clarsach, the kantele remains the star of this Harp Festival show.
‘II has such a unique, movuig $0und — all the high harmonics, and no bridge, as on other string instruments. Even my Zither has a bridge. The music of the kantele is different. It comes from playing in a small wooden room, to no audience t is music from a still, qmet heart '
ﬂ Edinburgh Harp Festival takes place at The P/easance, Fri 3-Wed8Apr. See Folk /is'tings for further details
FOLK FESTIVAL Shoots And Roots
Edinburgh: Teviot Union & Caledonian Brewery, Thu 9—Sun 12 Apr.
The Edinburgh Folk Festival is dead. But not buried. It grows again as Shoots and Roots, a new title from the organisers of the previous event which expired last year — a victim of the success of Glasgow’s Celtic Connections, declining audiences and deficient funding.
The new format of spring and autumn events kicks off with an Easter weekend packed with workshops, talks, exhibitions, kids events, concerts and ceilidhs. Among the concerts is a performance by the amazing Loyko, a trio of classically trained Russian musiCians and singers. Derived essentially from their centuries-old, family Gypsy tradition, the mu5ic they play transcends language and musical forms, taking on board elements of Django, contemporary classicism and inspired improvisation.
Not in their league as a violinist, and not, perhaps, to everyone’s taste as a fiddler, young Seattle-based Irishman Martin Hayes is nonetheless widely celebrated for his passionate, introspective fiddle-and-guitar duetting With the tremendously accomplished, and quite minimalist, Chicago guitarist Dennis Cahill. Deeply rooted in the traditional repertoire of his County Clare origin, Hayes uses those jigs, reels, hornpipes, mazurkas, polkas, slow airs and waltzes as a basis for an exploratory dialogue by shifting emphasis, teasing out melody, improwsing a little, all the while attempting to reveal the heart of the tune and the personalities and culture that created it.
The ethos that the music — rather than the showmanship — is the most imponant aspect of performance is dear to Hayes and was handed down to him by two of his County Clare musical mentors.
'I don't think even the neighbours knew who they were. They'd never been known to be musicians and recognised in the popular sense,‘ says Hayes taking up the tale. 'They had no egos, they had nothing to prove; so when they played, they played for the purest of reasons, and you could hear that. They were constantly striving for sweetness and emotion. I try to get my instrument sounding sweet, to express my own feelings, but be aware of the emotional inspiration of the music. I want to see if I can bring that out and let people hear what those older musiCians were trying to say.’ (Norman Chalmers)
Hayes and Cahill: fiddle and guitar
2-16 Apr 1998 m: usns