The artwork for Salamander greets you with a vibrant warmth: a glowing and alluring amalgam of reds and oranges that is both classy and intense. It is therefore the perfect visual embodiment of the aural splendour that awaits the listener, for the music presented on Salamander is all of these things… and so much more. On this, their second recording, you get a real sense that the trio have really hit their stride, finding a shared energy and rapport that undoubtedly results in some of the most spellbinding music you’re likely to hear this year.
Billing themselves as “an acoustic trio with a broadly European repertoire,” Bellevue Rendezvous’ success can be partly attributed to an absence of musical boundaries, that enables them to draw from a diverse and stimulating palette, with an intoxicating array of rhythm and melody that holds the listener’s attention. Gavin Marwick’s fluid fiddle playing provides a nimble agility that is perfectly juxtaposed against the full-bodied depth of Ruth Morris’ nyckelharpa, whilst the punchy rhythms of Cameron Robson’s cittern and guitar provide an intricate framework that binds their overall sound.
The opening set of tunes is an animated affair with an instant and undeniable appeal; contemporary and traditional Swedish tunes meld to wonderful effect, with the three instruments entwined in a racy and intricate alliance that lasts for a mouthwatering eight minutes. This is followed by “Hanter Dro,” a dance tune from Brittany with a sterner, more measured melody, and an assuredly classy presence.
Gavin Marwick’s own creative ingenuity is revealed on a number of occasions on Salamander, with his tunes absorbing a broad range of traditional influences. “Firedance” perfectly captures the personal sadness and adrenalin of the Irish immigration that influences the composition, whilst “Trip To Uppsala” depicts the excitement and anticipation of a much happier journey.
“Makedonsko Devojche,” (Macedonian Girl) is an achingly emotive piece of music, with a tranquility that effortlessly evokes an intense montage of reluctant sorrow, quiet strength, and reassuring beauty. The potency and empathy instilled in this interpretation is overwhelming in its meticulous detail, and a real testament to the remarkable calibre of the three musicians. Salamander retires gently and gracefully with the Scandinavian “Herding Song,” leaving you in a state of awe, and eagerly awaiting the next instalment of Bellevue Rendezvous’ pan-European ramble.
Salamander should cement the position of Bellevue Rendezvous as one of the foremost talents in traditional music, with a sound that stands out as truly distinct and imaginative. The opportunities for a band that truly embrace the full gamut of European traditional music is seemingly endless, and in the hands of Bellevue Rendezvous it would doubtless be an exhilarating journey on which to embark.
The Man In The Brown Hat – La Sensonette
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Review by Mike Wilson