I’ve just (finally) started posting some regular films on Youtube. Some originals, bit of Bach and maybe some other interesting covers. Give the channel a follow! and if you have any content ideas, let me know!!
Nice cover of Carly’s Trip to Ecclefechan on brass!
A film from the album launch at The Edinburgh Caves
“The Inventor is, in short a virtuosic performance that eschews fireworks in favour of craft, the various musical worlds it inhabits – Scottish, European, folk and classical – combining in a cohesive musical statement which, while seeking less to dazzle than to seduce, often succeeds in doing both”
“For sheer spaciousness and atmosphere, we are in the territory of The Gloaming, and there are few more fulsome compliments than that”.
The Inventor – NORMAN MACKAY
Private Label CAWCD002
A full album of largely unfamiliar Scots accordion-led tunes might sound a little too much of agood thing for some, but this is quality stuff. Mackay, originally from the Highlands but now based in Glasgow, has surrounded himself with exceptional musicians. If the squeezebox generally takes the lead, there is plenty of room for other members of the team to shine. Sometimes he uses a conventional string quartet line-up, elsewhere he employs other configurations, including generous helpings of fiddle and violin. Interestingly, to me at any rate, he draws a distinction between the two. No matter, he and his troop create a gloriously varied soundscape. For sheer spaciousness and atmosphere, we are in the territory of The Gloaming, and there are few more fulsome compliments than that.
The title track is fittingly strong, whilst Monachil Waltz is one of a number of tracks to use trumpet, in this case to conjure up a distinctly Spanish vibe. Another add-on worth a mention is the double bass playing of Duncan Lyall. It’s a rich mix, never more so than when the ensemble plunges headlong into Disco’s Inferno – reminiscent of early Sharon Shannon. It’s all very, well, for want of a better word, inventive. Take, for instance, Gellatly’s March, where the strings and things are joined by Lorne MacDougall on bagpipes and the Edinburgh Singers Choir.
” Truly a versatile master of the accordion and a stunning composer, Mackay has brought to life an indescribable beauty with The Inventor which has to be heard to be believed.”
Norman Mackay is living proof that someone can turn any instrument into the life and soul of the party. The accordion is traditionally considered as a supporting instrument but in Mackay’s hands it becomes something so much more. As a musician, composer and furniture maker, Mackay is a man of considerable artistic talents and a variety of outlets with which he can utilise them. His most recent foray bore the result of his latest album The Inventor.
The Inventor has a sparse white cover that gives little to nothing of what is held within away. Unless you have come across his work before, you wouldn’t have even the slightest of inklings as to what treasure tracks you might find hiding in such a sleeve. This sparse introduction is actually strikingly similar to his work itself which centres around the rich and lulling tones of the accordion, merely peppering the rest of the track with a rich heritage of sound as he utilises some of Scotland’s best traditional musicians to lend a hand. Everything from brass to percussion comes into play throughout the length of The Inventor but does so in such a subtle and unassuming nature that the main drive of the accordion is never once overlooked.
What is so striking with Mackay’s work is that not only does he draw the prime focus on the understated instrument that is the accordion but he also draws things out of the instrument that you might find surprising. The album is a heady collection of melodies that flutters between Eastern European influenced waltz numbers, classical orchestral scores and jaunty nautical numbers that wouldn’t look out of place on a pirate ship cresting the waves. Such a sunny disposition and glorious amount of imagery is summoned by such a small and humble instrument, but this mere fact is simply proof that it is the person holding it that retains that power. Mackay is a man who takes you on a wondrous journey around the globe, through dances and thunderstorms, with a rich and evocative imagery and he does it all without ever uttering a word.
This level of craftsmanship within music is a rare gift, the ability to tell a tale without words. It all sits within the delicate balances that Mackay creates wherein his whimsical and jovial melodies saunter and dance around you, making your head swim with a chorus of beautifully rendered tunes that can lull you to sleep or rouse you to dance depending on his mood at the time of playing. Truly a versatile master of the accordion and a stunning composer, Mackay has brought to life an indescribable beauty with The Inventor which has to be heard to be believed.
More info at: https://www.normanmackay.com/
Review by Joe Knipe