Right from the word go, I See a World hits the deck running. Although it is the band’s 10th album overall, it is the first to feature their expanded line-up which delivers an exciting and fulsome sound. It feels like an evolutionary step for the Peatbog Faeries’ innovative blend of Scottish trad with contemporary dance music. During their 30+ years of music-making the band have consistently reflected emerging world and dance influences and enriched their sound in step with them.
Arising from a week’s writing retreat in the band’s native Skye with the new players, this album bears the fruits of cross-pollination with incoming members Norman Willmore (Keys and Alto Sax) Stu Brown (Drums and electronics) and Innes Watson (Guitar, fiddle and vocals) as well as guest contributions from the Bevvy Sisters, percussionist Krishna Kishoor, Helena Kay on Tenor Sax and Uilleann piper Ryan Murphy. The established core of Peter Morrison (Pipes and Whistles) Innes Hutton (Bass) Tom Salter (Guitar) and Ross Couper (Fiddle) are mainstays of the driving rhythms and energy of the band.They’ve made a visionary choice to facilitate the fuller sound that infuses this album.
The increase in the vocal components of these tracks (in contrast with earlier albums) is balanced by the broader palette of instrumental parts and provides a layered sound which deserves repeated listening to fully unravel and absorb. The Sister of Moses is an intriguing example of this, and marks the first instance of a full song on a Peatbogs album. The presence of guest players enriches the sound and texture of all tracks except for the third, I Haven’t Smoked for Days, which is played by the core ensemble.
There are so many influences embedded within the songs; the piper Pete Morrison feels that the album has ’pushed the band to new levels of musicianship’ and the sheer breadth of attainment demonstrated throughout surely confirms that. From the jangling township guitar stylings of Clunie Road to the soaring electro prelude to Innes Drinks the Bru, the international sounds are still imbued with Skye magic and the timbre of the Scots accent is a pleasing component of this blend.
Honourable mention must be given for the unctuous tenor sax solo in Ortigueira which counterpoints beautifully with the pipes as the track climaxes. Similarly the energetic uillean pipes solo in the superbly named The Poozies Visit to Carbost is a spine-tingling moment to be savoured. The anthemic Ann Robertson’s Kitchen features an infectious chorus that is bound to find its way into some DJ sets.
This enlarged iteration of the Peatbog Faeries has produced a fine opening salvo in the war on bland; no doubt the next instalment of their dynamic fusion will be eagerly anticipated if this album sets the standard.Angela Stock
Released August 4th 2023 on CD and digitally
1. The Jesster
2. The Humours of Ardnamurchan
3. I Haven’t Smoked for Days
5. The Sister of Moses
6. Innes Drinks the Bru
7. Ann Robertson’s Kitchen
9. The Poozies Visit to Carbost
10 Clunie Road / The Winning Bid