Week One: Art-Box CD
  • Week One: Art-Box CD

Week One: Art-Box CD

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Review by Alex Monaghan: Rarely has solo fiddle been so exciting, or so innovative. Cork fiddle experimenter Eoghan Neff emphasises the pure acoustic and almost-live nature of this recording - and so he should, it is exceptional these days, even in traditional music. Everything on this CD was played acoustically by Eoghan and recorded in real time: no electronic effects, no over-dubs, no post-editing, no pre-recorded loops, and of course no accompanists. Yet here we have complex multi-layered arrangements, so what's the trick? Real-time looping: you play something, record it, then play back the recording over and over while you play something else. It's a trick which takes a lot of skill and patience, like mixing a live concert while you play, which is probably why Week One reduces down to only thirty-six minutes. And why Eoghan looks drained in the photos. Yes, there are photos of the process. In fact there's a whole audio-visual package here: total immersion, scratch'n'sniff music. Each CD is hand-packed in a cardboard folder with cards, photos, napkins, hand-written notes and more, to underline the unique physical process which produced this album. Most listeners might not give two hoots about the way the noises were made, as long as they sound good - that's understandable - but the fact that this CD was one man's labour of love is inescapable in the packaging, the notes, and indeed the music. Eoghan has spent years exploring and mastering the range of sounds to be made by a fiddle - the scrapes, the knocks, the squeals, the whispers, as well as the pure musical tones - and he puts them all into his music to create an acoustic feast. I can't think of any fiddler with a broader palette of sounds, certainly not with the control of Eoghan Neff. And all this from a simple cork fiddle. The result is spectacular. At times violent and dramatic, at times spiritual and sublime, this is extreme fiddling, a pinnacle of acoustic music. From it emerge the familiar melodies of the Irish tradition - A Stór Mo Chroí, Kiss the Maid Behind the Barrel, Merrily Danced the Quaker and others. It passes quickly - too quickly - but even after repeated listening there is still plenty more to enjoy and appreciate. There are possible comparisons with the music of Martyn Bennett, Chris Stout, and a handful of fellow pioneers - but this is unique, a step beyond. Jaw-dropping, inspiring, exhilirating, Eoghan Neff's music is something special. And this is only Week One!

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