Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The Lights of Ranzanico
Own Label DMCD001
10 tracks, 40 minutes


This recording is close to perfection. Cork piper Diarmaid Moynihan is one of the most talented players of his generation, and a prolific and respected composer, who gained global recognition with the band Calico. Donncha was also a key component of Calico, playing guitar and bouzouki, after a spell with all-girl group Calando. I think the beard gave him away in the end. Interestingly, his colleague in another band based on long blond hair has just surfaced with The London Lasses: Elma McElligott played flute with Donncha in the group Tassida. Be that as it may, the Moynihan brothers make a tight and intuitive duo here. Diarmaid’s pipes are in fantastic form - just listen to his air Pairc na Marbh, and Donncha’s accompaniment on the following reels is spot on. The guitar on Donncha’s own tune Long Haul Hush perfectly complements Diarmaid’s whistle. I could listen to their duets for the whole album: Diarmaid’s dreamy slow reel Ivory Lady recorded recently by Lúnasa, old reels and jigs incisively played on pipes and whistle, and another of Donncha’s airs on solo guitar. But there’s much, much more here.

First, the Moynihan lads are joined by ace Galician piper Anxo Lorenzo for a stupendous opening track. Tejedor’s great Spanish jig Barralin leads into the title tune (another of Diarmaid’s), and then Mairtin O’Connor’s supercharged Rockin’ the Boat. Somehow, just two pipers manage to sound like a full pipe band on the Breton march Pont de Loudeac. North Cregg’s box-player, Christy Leahy adds his mighty punch to another pair of Diarmaid’s tunes, La Tramontana and Shoulder Dancing, and to a set of traditional reels. There are also some nice touches of trumpet, piano, bass and percussion at various points. In between, Diarmaid delivers another gorgeous slow air and a rather funky reel, and the brothers are joined by their sister Deirdre for a fresh take on the Calico favourite Covering Ground. It’s all stirring stuff, and I can’t see how it could have been better, unless there was more of it.

The Lights of Ranzanico is an album to be seized upon, greedily devoured or lovingly cherished: a highlight of the year.

Alex Monaghan Irish Music Magazine

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