Fidil

By Ciarán Ó Maonaigh And Aidan O’Donnell

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Twelve comments

Fidil

Launched on June 9th, 2008 on their own label (FID001CD) - dual fiddles in glorious isolation from any form of accompaniment.

www.fidilmusic.com

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Yep, it’s a real belter, Slainte!

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Note that track 7 is actually called ‘The Kilcar Mazurka’, not simply ‘The Kilcar’. There seems to be something wrong with the system here which prevents the use of ‘mazurka’ in a tune’s title.

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& ‘jig’ & ‘reel’ & ‘hornpipe’ & ‘polka’ & ‘waltz’ & anything where a category already exists…

Yes, of course I know that now, Ceol, but it’s an utterly daft way of doing things and one that should have been corrected on this site a long long time ago. For instance, if someone records a tune called ‘The Kerry’ there’s absolutely no way of indicating which type of tune it is and, thereby, avoiding links to the wrong reel, jig or slide, other than posting a correction in the comments.

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I sympathize…

Some of us have tried to get it changed, but ~ "BANG, BANG, BANG!!!" (my head against the keyboard…) :-|

Muddy Waters ~ disappointment and a difference of opinion… :-/

Now to hang myself, the reason for my returning here, aside from checking the tracks and links. I haven’t been able to figure out why "The Kilcar" doesn’t connect to the transcription? But now to tying the knot in the rope for a game of hangman…

Some respected folks have commented very favourably on this recording, who’s opinion in part lead to our purchasing this. But, having now given it repeat listens, I’m returning here with a different opinion on this, an opinion shared with the lovely woman I’d bought this for, my wife.

Fist off, a response to "dual fiddles in glorious isolation from any form of accompaniment." There is accompaniment now and then, but a constant presence is the accompaniment of a second fiddle, playing with drones and other ‘wha wha’ with bow to strings, which might be taken as akin to immitating the pipes, drones and regulators, and which, to my senses, don’t work very well, are in the way. At times there’s a hint of the kinds of harmony found in duet and group fiddling in Northern Europe, the Scandinavian countries, but not as interesting or successful. And then, in fragments, some lovely octave playing, short lived, something not uncommon to Donegal.

I really wanted to like this recording, already respecting the skill of the two fiddlers involved, but I don’t like it, we don’t like it. Yes, they are having a great time, playing around with things. But for me it’s muddy and doesn’t hold together well. It’s sloppy. What came to mind was a tired drunk trying to row across a still lake, having lost one of his oars. The first and most important indication that something is wrong was what was missing in my feet. They’d fallen asleep the circulation was so poor. Trying to wake them after this was the usual pain of that, tingly and burning, because there wasn’t anything to get the blood flowing and get my feet itchy and moving. There was no solid rhythm to lift the music or my feet from sleep. If there was a twinge, it soon subsided. Even if I’d been on speed, my body would have been in the shakes but I still think my feet would have remained unmoved. That valued instinctual response just wasn’t there, and I even lost interest in seeing whether or not the tired drunk would make it to the other shore with his one oar…

Yes, I can hear their talent, and I wish I had an ounce of that, and sometimes it gives me a little of what we’d hoped for, such as those fragments of octave playing, a love we both have, and the occassional identity and accent slipping of Donegal and that connection. But none of that holds together for long, for us. It doesn’t feel relaxed or connected. It feels affected and fiddled with. Especially valued by us, it lacks dance. Maybe they are trying too hard to be ‘cute’ with the music? The things they throw into the pot don’t feel comfortable, they tend to detract me, us both, from the music and draw our attention to what they are doing to it, which comes across as clumsy and unnatural.

I was excited about the new album, "Fidil 3", but after hearing this several times that excitement is gone. I may change my opinion if I get a listen of it, but if it is more of the same, the opinion won’t change. For now it has been removed from our Christmas list…

There is some lack of fairness here, as we had expectations, were excited, and both were lost, from first listen to repeat listens. So there is disappointment and a little anger here. The anger is in my hesitation in putting this in the small category we have for Donegal music, which is just me being silly. I didn’t think anyone could do a really bad take on that lovely jig, one of Con Cassidy’s, but this just didn’t give me any satisfaction at all, my feet asleep…

I will return to it, and work to listen past the silliness, to hear better the skill involved, but this may end up in someone else’s stocking in the long run. There are so many other fine recordings I’d rather be giving that ear time too…

Lots and lots of people have showered praise on this recording. We are not of the same opinion…

I’m used to being told I don’t know what I’m talking about…

Fidil/Ciarán Ó Maonaigh And Aidan O’Donnell Track 14

The middle tune on track 14, here called "Agnes Campbell’s" is actually a strathspey by James Scott Skinner called "Forbes Morrison". I don’t have the Fidil CD (I recorded three tracks off the radio), so I don’t know what the sleeve notes say.