Jugalbandi hails from Scotland, lately a center of filmic attention with a number of historied tales of heros (Highlander, Rob Roy, etc.), and the ensemble likes to hark back to erstwhile times in a welter of original and traditional acoustic instrumental tunes by way of 6- and 12-string guitars, cittern, mandolin, octave mandolin, and other familiar and not-so-familiar axes. The sound, however, is not so much northern and Gaelic as Eastern and Middle European, with more than a little of the Balkan.
Baglamarama kicks off the CD, sounding a bit Horslips-y, back when they were more anciently oriented before going chart-rock punk-ish. There are also traces of Third Ear Band, Popul Vuh, The Long Hello, and other ensembles dedicated to complicated classical folk airs, though Jugalbandi is a good deal more rhythm oriented, jazzy at times, progressive always but with the kind of mindset that informed Anders Koppel (Savage Rose) and others in the 70s. From Is to Was, on the other hand, would not be unusual to have found in Mike Oldfield's early catalogue. That is to say: this band has quite sophisticated ways about them, far more so considering this is their debut.
The feeling in this collection of tracks ranges from rustic, antic, and spirited to courtly and elegant. Of course, El Gato is 100% the sort of thing Tom Waits would've incorporated in his latter days or even now, a cabaret-ish three-penny tune with Hungarian swing beside a way-righteous slide guitar worthy of Ry Cooder. It comes as a surprise, then, that Jugalbandi is a duo, Gordon Irvine and Chris Kant, with Dennis Lynch sitting in on percussion. The atmospheres are full and the compositions defiant of categorization while heady and deceptively clever, often on a Penguin Cafe Orchestra level. That they're on a private label is almost a sin. However, indie materials are now the superior of the mainstream, and this release is most definitely a superlative, so all is thus right on Earth and in heaven.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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