posted on September 07, 2008 19:00
A review of the album 'The Hare's Corner' by Colm Mac Con Iomaire
Review Snapshot: The solo project of trad-meets-world from the Frames violinist is well-played and thoughtfully crafted throughout. But you yearn for a spark of electricity to liven up the unrelenting politeness of the whole affair. By no means a bad record – just uneventful and ultimately featureless. Let this hare sit.
The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10
The first cinemas put a piano-player at the foot of the screen and he would plink-plonk along to the action in the film, enhancing the onscreen sentiment and prompting us how to react. Today, we almost invariably describe instrumental music as ‘cinematic’. It doesn’t exist independently, but serves to soundtrack something. We expect it to evoke epic landscapes and hyperdramatic situations.
Regardless of this, Glen Hansard’s nixer, as uncinematic as cinema music can get, has earned him an Oscar. Now here’s his Frames colleague Colm Mac Con Iomaire with his own solo project, eleven instrumental tracks that will no doubt have listeners judging it against the movies in their heads.
The titles and sleevenotes to ‘The Hare’s Corner’ are bilingual, half Irish and half English. The record itself follows similar lines, mixing traditional Irish influences with a fashionably cosmopolitan range of classical and world sounds. As you’d expect from the Frames fiddler, violin is prominent in the arrangements.
However, the VU/Bad Seeds avant garde screeching of his band work is replaced by tastefully melodic lines. As a result, this record is unfailingly polite to the point of near blandness. There’s little in the way of personality or character on show here. Most of the airs are slow to mid-tempo, with only the jaunty ‘Thou Shalt Not Carry Timber/Ná hIompar Adhmad’ jarring things up a bit. Trad arrs like ‘The Cuckoo Of Glen Nephin/Cuachín Ghleann Néifin’ and ‘The Court Of New Town/Cúirt Bhaile Nua’ are played with safe hands.
Back to our opening proposition: instrumental music always being reduced to soundtrack work. In this light, ‘The Hare’s Corner’ can be called incidental music. Not in the sense that it’s packed with incident, but that it stands unassumingly in the background while something more interesting grabs your attention.