Formed only in 2012, Sontas are a strong ten piece group already having brought dazzling arrangements of both songs and tunes to delighted audiences at a number of prestigious events.
The group’s debut album Prospect Road introduces their very individual and striking sound through their first recording. It is one influenced by both Irish and Scottish traditional music but the finished product goes further to redefine the category and suggest certain alterations, which gives the album a very contemporary feel. Indeed many of the musicians have impressive musical backgrounds spanning many different musical genres, implying that a little jazz, funk and maybe rock has been added to the mix.
With ten musicians, dancers and singers collectively making up Sontas, the collaboration between exciting vocals and the range and number of instruments (bagpipes, whistles, flute, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, percussion, piano, keys, double bass, bass) makes the album a completely new and unique experience for many listeners. The variety of instruments - and what sounds to have been a very scrupulous selection process for each solo, riff, harmony or introduction - ensures that interest is retained throughout the album. This technique ensures that individual talent and sound can be appreciated and the weight of all instruments together never becomes overwhelming.
The album is a vibrant mix of songs and tunes, many of which are original compositions, highlighting the group as true artists. Indeed the listener must not be fooled into thinking that such a big ensemble means that the album will be fast paced from start to finish. Hard Times, an old favourite - and one of the less frantic tracks - is beautifully arranged and features interesting vocal harmonies and sublime instrumental breaks which make for a magnificent sound and one truly reflective of the album’s roots.
Prospect Road is traditional meets original. The title track of the album, a piece composed by lead piper Darren Milligan, is a fine example of the creativity and musicianship at work throughout each of the eleven tracks.
Equally, Oh Frustration - a real toe-tapper of a tune - and its prominent electric guitar solos, compliment impressive pipe playing so that the listener finds themselves swept along with racing rhythms and infectious melodies.
The singing on the album, particularly in the band’s interpretation of Raggle Taggle Gypsy, is delivered with real power and gusto whilst the passion and emotion brought by the voices delivers the story in such a way that is perfectly fitting with the feisty and spirited underlying accompaniment.
Prospect Road: A stunning collection of tracks with a real drive and bite. It is an album for everyone, young or old, prone to giving in to their dancing feet - but who also welcome the odd meditative tune to allow them time to get their breath back!Rebekah Foard
Self Released on 17th November 2012
2. Hard Times
3. Prospect Road
4. Tango in Harris
5. Oh Frustration
6. Raggle Taggle Gypsy
7. Raggles Return
8. Factory Times
9. Edinburgh Rock
10. The Parting Glass
11. Holly’s Air