A Moment Of Madness

By Brendan Begley and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

Six comments

Good stuff

I just got this. Mad, lovely playing.

Saw them last night in Philly, one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. Only about twenty people in the audience, which I was sorry for at first, but it allowed me talk to Caoimhín and Brendan, so all was good! :)
The album’s great, but live is amazing. Go out and see ‘em!

I was another of the lucky few in the Philly audience. Tremendous playing by both, and genuinely good people. The album, while very strong, doesn’t do justice to the energy they had playing live.

“Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich & Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh: A Moment Of Madness”

"A Moment of Madness" is right, and while there’s no doubting the two talents involved, the application of that talent is a little astray and daft at times here. Yes, as much as I love the music of these two, generally, on other recordings by both, there are some irritations in this odd mix and some of the mishandling of otherwise lovely melodies. Track 2, probably the one I disliked most, has all the promise of a decent slip jig, but no, someone had to screw it up with some extra pauses and rhythmic of cuteness, that doesn’t really work other than to feel wedged in, artificial, out of place. There are some lovely tunes out there with extra bits, and mixed metered, under the bow and between the bellows of Quebec and French Canadian musicians, or from the Balkans, where you can still dance to them, but this ain’t in the same league, note even a smile’s worth. It drags on and on for four and a half minutes and gets more and more tiring in its supposed cuteness. Cute it ain’t, interesting and innovative it also ain’t. You can hear the promise of a decent slip jig, but as a mixed meter Frankenstein abomination, it stumbles along with an odd limp.

Such talent, and such silliness, maybe OK for a bit of craic in ones own time, for the moment, but to record some of this to sell to others, a bit more thought and consideration would be appreciated, of the music and of the punters. At least there’s a bit more to balance out those odd bits with some decent listens too, out of those ‘moments of madness’ and misdirected mirth, if mirth was the root.

Tracks where the craic is present and not too astray or weighty with time ~ the polka sets of 1 & 3, a couple of lovely airs handled well for track 4, and than the powers of sanity that they didn’t decide to ruin the mood of it by taking that other cheap jump up into ripping through say a reel, which has been done to death by others. 5 is a lovely and lively set of jigs, and the hornpipe set of track 8 is also sweet. Track 7 is a pleasant addition, marches, and great fun, including their introduction, bless ‘em. So there’s 6 tracks out of 12, half the tracks here, that make it well worth the purchase, but, the talents of these two are also worth chasing this up, even where they spoil it by getting a bit too carried away with the cutesy stuff.

Now to the hiccups, burps, farts and acid indigetions, starting with track 6, polkas, a solo for the bow of Caoimhi’n, such talent, but four minutes in it becomes too much, and not necessarily of a good thing. There are some bits of screwing around that get in the way of my full enjoyment of it, and that’s before I’m halfway through the listening. It all becomes a bit too weird, where it starts to have that feeling of "see what I can do!", and whether or not it does a kindness to the tune or the dance form…

Ah, finally, back to a nice lovely air ~ NO! They had to take a cheap change to polkas, sadly, and, my opinion, it doesn’t work, it’s weird and clumsy… Why can’t folks be happy with just letting a nice air handled well be on its own, without the knee jerk jump to something more adrenal? One decent mood will do in most cases. Despite the silly stuff thrown in, I was enjoying the air, and I liked the polkas too, taken on their own, though there was a silly and off beat change in the middle of that. Why? Because you can? For the hell of it?

10, more promise, a lovely relaxed start, the first tune, carried more than halfway through, and then ‘WHOOSH!’ a rise in tempo and a hop into slide mode. Mixing things up again, but more like putting ice cream on your ham and eggs. While both are nice they don’t mix well here, more odd cuteness for its own sake, what could also possibly be called ‘childish’? Both tunes are lovely, show talent, but cobbled together ~ :-P

"That’s a car crash!", pipes in my wife part way through this track as we’re heading down the motorway listening to this, "They should put and emergency vehicle alarm at the end of that." Yes, what a great idea, let’s slap on a car crash at the end, pedal to the metal and heading for a ‘Thelma & Louise’ moment, track 11, polkas ~ what better tune form for losing control and slamming your car into something solid and unmoveable, eh? This has to be one of the worst tracks of the whole recording, unsteady and manic, with the foot beating away in the background faster and faster and faster and faster… Yuck!

But we’re not done yet, there’s one more trakc, #12, "The P&O Polka", and this starts out being handled as an air, and it has my interest, and then it goes up tempo, but I’m still interested… This works for me, the same melody given a slow intro and then upped into a nice relaxed polka. But then, through repetition and time, five and a half minutes that end up dragging, beating this poor melody to death, and no amount of variation and cutesy stuff quite makes up for that. And then, if things couldn’t be worse with the penultimate car crash before this and this slog ~ they decide to do a fade out, another cheap trick to finish it all off with, something that rarely works or make ssense, and here it doesn’t, it’s just naff fluff, silly ~ in my opinion.

Hey, I really like half the tracks here, and bits of the others, so it’s not all bad. Despite the few disapointments, and the weirdness scattered throughout like mis-chosen seasoning, mustard with your apple pie, I’d love to see these two do a recording together of ‘dance music’, specifically for dancing to, a few sets, some ceili dances, a few couple dances, steady but still with humour, the melodies and the dancers given fair treatment, for the craic… I’ve no doubt of their talents and ability to do that, but here, this recording, parts of it, in my sense of things, were sloppy and silly, and the few people I’ve shared the listening with agreed, without my prompting them, 6 good tracks, 6 naff ones… :-) :-P

_7. ) just the one march, but I’m enjoying it that much, and again as I type this, that I’m going to do a transcription of it to add to the database here, and a few others will likely follow as well. ;-)