For anyone familiar with either of these two musicians there will be a sense of expectation around this album. Violin virtuoso Peter Knight and melodeon maestro John Spiers are both artists with an incredible history, and a backlog of amazing work both as solo artists and as part of collaborations, including their previous joint endeavour, Well Met.
The question is: does this album reach the lofty heights expected of it? The answer: a resounding “yes”.
Many full-sized bands would struggle to fill the sonic palette as richly as Knight and Spiers; it would do a great disservice to not mention this as a highlight of the work as a whole. Each man is a painter, filling the spaces with shifting colours of sound that blend to create beautiful, evolving musical paintings.
The repertoire of the album is split evenly between arrangements of traditional tunes and original compositions. The treatment of the traditional folk tunes is used as an opportunity to explore improvisational avenues not often seen in trad folk settings.
Knight’s lyrical, soaring violin over Spiers’ moody, droning melodeon seems to weave its way through Scarborough Fair rather than outright state the melody. The effect is almost dreamlike, and is a theme which permeates the album.
The original works featured begin with Drone in D, which runs the gamut from tender violin lines, to fractious melodic interplay, all underpinned by insistent harmonic padding from the melodeon. The swirling Improv 3 showcases Peter Knight’s absolute mastery of his instrument with some truly stunning playing, the violin practically singing out the improvised lines, feeling spontaneous and yet still memorable.
John Spiers gets a chance to stretch his legs musically in the wonderful Abbot Bromley Horn Dance, perfectly capturing the medieval tenor of the piece with his confident, almost swaggering musicianship. His talent for writing tunes is captured in the tender track Union, which walks a fine line, harmonically, between the melancholy and the hopeful.
Overall, this collaboration is a beautiful snapshot of two musicians who are at the pinnacle of their craft. Listeners of all stripes will find themselves lost in something magical, and anyone will struggle to find something as masterful as this for a long, long time.Tom W Edwards
Released February 11 2022 on CD and digitally. Produced by Peter Knight and John Spiers.
1. Scarborough Fair
2. Yellow Haired Laddie
3. Drone in D
4. Abbot’s Bromley Horn Dance
5. La Dance De Madame Meymerie
6. Bourrée De Concours
7. Le Berger De Laleuf / Signposts
8. Improv 3
10. Battle Of The Somme