Spiral Earth ****


From the off Imar leap out of the traps and go full tilt. Opening track, appropriately titled ‘Bangers,’ raves and reels all around the place, never settling as they thunder through three jigs at a Ramones like pace. In your face, well maybe, but there’s no doubting they’re here with a job to do and do it they will. Imar’ll are the boys to entertain you.

An alliance of Celtic nation musicality with proven track records. Count amongst their number concurrent careers in Rura, Talisk and Manran, then you get some idea of the depth of experience. Effervesence is on display everywhere. Title, ‘Awakening’ gives images of gentle mornings with a long lie in dismissing sleepiness… well… perhaps the name of their last album ‘Avalanche’ would be more accurate. Not that they’re all about bluster and speed. ‘Waterhorse’ puts on the brakes as a flute and pipe line meanders, there’s a touch of melancholy to ‘Eioghann’s’ a march they’ve dedicated to friend Eioghainn Beaton who was involved in an traffic accident. The airs and reflective pieces are wisely placed to wind down between the hyper reeling which ride the rhythms of bouzouki and bodhran. Throughout the band’s level of musicianship is impressive.

They’ve increased the proportion of their repertoire which is self composed, the trad content is down to the minimum but you’d never know the blend is seamless and proves Imar have the happy knack of writing in folk style. This isn’t imitation it’s done from love of tradition and with great care and respect.

Hope they tour the album more widely later in the year as it deserves a wide hearing and has festival contender written all over it. Classy.

Simon Jones.