Those that prefer the more progressive approach to Scottish traditional music would do well to check the new compositional debut from Damian Helliwell titled Metta, a Pali word that translates as loving-kindness, good will, friendship or as explained on Damian’s website: an attitude of recognising that all sentient beings, can feel good or feel bad, and that all, given the choice, will choose the former over the latter.
There are some familiar names amongst the line-up with Damian Helliwell on mandolin and tenor banjo, Jenny Hill on double bass, Eilidh Shaw on fiddle, Andy Thorburn on piano and Donald Hay on percussion. The music has some imaginative compositions reminiscent in places of Shooglenifty especially on the mandolin driven Fear Of Askaval, a personal highlight of the EP, which is complimented by a jazz-styled backbone from the rest of the band. There are subtle world fusion hints on the contemplative Awkward Phrase, the mandolin sounding almost middle eastern in places against the atmospheric piano of Andy Thorn. With the project having launched at Celtic Connections it certainly bodes well for the forthcoming album due out in March. In the meantime the EP is available as a free download here on bandcamp.
Most of the material was written during the construction of a straw-bale studio which was used for the recording, the two creative processes were deeply intertwined. Make sure you check the slideshow on the band website: www.metta-music.com