Thursday 30 May 2024


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spiral earth
Thursday 30 May 2024

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Jan 31, 2024

“Hirondelle” may be familiar as a way-back-in-the-day inexpensive wine brand.  It’s also the name of a multi-national band soon to release their self-titled debut album. Hirondelle is French for swallow (the flying kind), and the band name reflects the bird’s flight range across Africa, Britain and Ireland and the Mediterranean, and the varied musical types along the way. The line-up is Northumbrian alt-folk duo The Brothers Gillespie, Trio Mythos, a classical string ensemble (cello/viola/violin) and the polyphonic Provençal trio Tant Que Li Siam, who are steeped in the musical Occitan language of Southern France.

The seemingly eccentric mix works well. There are songs in English and Provençal with the Trio Mythos, (Sophie Renshaw (viola/arranger), violinist Lucy Russell and cellist Ruth Philips) expertly and effortlessly intertwining with the two folk groups.  This string trio can play alongside the traditional groups purely within the classical genre or by seamlessly mingling, but playing alongside or leaning in, all is wonderful fusion. The baroque-like arrangement of ‘O’Carolan’s Cup’ is a graceful example.

The two tracks featuring Tant Que Li Siam are a vocal and percussive joy – tight and complex, jagged and rounded. ‘I Drew My Ship’ is an aching, atmospheric piece, a close, intimately expressive and tender duet from the siblings. Two fine odes to Northumberland mark the outerlands of the swallow’s journey. Plaintive and searching strings eddy around poem, song and chorus – words and music that will touch any soul that has stood in those wide, wild hills.

Like so many others, this recording fell prey to lockdown, which prevented its being toured and delayed its release, but the patient swallow has safely delivered a little gem from the treasure box of diverse musical traditions.

Bob Langstaff.



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