“Combining five outstanding instrumentalists from Scotland, Ireland, England and the Isle of Man, each with early roots in Irish music, their sound centres on a brilliantly melodious frontline of uilleann pipes, fiddle and concertina, and an essentially no-frills approach to trad-based material” The Scotsman.
Avalanche is Ímar’ second studio album and is like a turbo charged version of the first but with a vast range of dynamics, both moments of beauty and power. A strong album that is going to make for an incredible show on tour.
There are many reasons to be excited about the Glasgow-based five-piece Ímar – not least a line-up featuring current and former members of Manran, RURA, Talisk, Barrule, Cara & Mec Lir whose collectively crammed trophy-cabinet includes several BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and All-Britain/All-Ireland titles. By far the best and biggest reason, however, is how excited the band are themselves.
Two of the band are Manxmen – fiddler Tomás Callister and bouzouki ace Adam Rhodes. Flautist and whistle player Ryan Murphy is from Ireland. Bodhrán player Adam Brown, hails from Suffolk. Concertina player Mohsen Amini, is from Glasgow.
“We all have a really strong shared background in Irish music – even though we all live in Glasgow and only Ryan’s actually from Ireland,” Brown says. These foundations underpin many of Ímar’s distinctive qualities, in both instrumentation and material, while also highlighting the cyclical evolution of Scotland’s wider folk scene. Go back a couple of decades or so, and Irish repertoire still predominated at many Scottish sessions and gigs, whereas today Ímar’s sound stands out boldly from the crowd.
“You won’t often hear anyone in Glasgow playing slides and polkas”
Besides being an Anglo-Iranian Scot playing Irish music on the concertina, BBC Radio 2 Musician Of The Year Award Winner, Mohsen Amini is also surely unique, among that instrument’s exponents, in citing the contemporary classical pianist/composer Ludovico Einaudi and celebrated film composer Hans Zimmer among his key musical influences. As this suggests, he has built on his traditional roots to develop a strikingly individual style, blending elements of Scottish, Irish and Breton music.
“it’s great having no fixed parameters – we’re just seeing what happens”
It’s this combined commonality and diversity of background and influences that fuels Ímar’s unmistakable synergy, centered on the overlapping cultural heritage between Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. All three places once shared the same Gaelic language – the name Ímar comes from a 9th-century king who reigned across this combined territory – and a similar kinship endures between their musical traditions.
“there’s also an infectious, raw boisterousness and spontaneity in the playing – and a winning informality in the presentation”. The Herald
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