Jiggy – Translate
Self-released – 2017
An ethereal sean-nós vocal from Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin forms the brief introduction to the much-anticipated debut album, Translate, from Irish collective Jiggy. Taken from the 18th Century poem Eanach Dhúin; the gently building strings, chimes, drones and atmospheres of Anach Cuain provide a brief glimpse of what lies ahead in the next hour of enthralling music. With Irish tradition as a starting point, Jiggy explore Indian folk and classical alongside trance beats, grooves and electronics. A soothing start, but put your feet up while you can, this is about to get lively…very lively.
Since percussionist Robbie Harris (Afro Celt Sound System, Pólca 4) brought together Jiggy in 2014, they’ve provided music lovers with a regular diet of memorable live performances, and a string of thoroughly well-received studio tracks. These have steadily grown in popularity, with their latest video offering, Silent Space clocking up 12 million views in a matter of days via Facebook.
Following on from that gentle opening, those live performances and teaser videos burst back into memory as Translate explodes into life with the pulsating excitement of Taraka. As a rhythm builds from tabla and vocal, slide guitar and percussion add some heat from the sub-continent. Then whistle, flute, jaws harp and the breathless excitement of Konnakol join a cascade of Uilleann pipes. With its traditional roots to the fore, Taraka ebbs and flows through a beguiling blend of ritual dance and revelry. It’s the mix of traditional jigs and reels, pulsating beats and whirlwinds of excitement that make Jiggy so enthralling. Drowsy Maggie, among dub beats and slide guitar, is treated to more Indian heat; King Of The Fairies is a primal slip-jig with fiddle, keyboards, driving beats and a healthy dose of diddly. That uniquely Irish vocal style merges flawlessly with Konnakol as the trance of Head Rush grows in stature to herald a psychedelic stomp of pipes and keyboards. It’s grinding, it’s trippy, it’s Jiggy.
Translate finds some of its more reflective passages among traditional Irish Gaelic song. Strings and percussion paint a starlit night as a backdrop for Ócam an Phríosúin. Aoife Kelly‘s lilting, bitter-sweet vocal interspersed with bass beats contrasts with a wild, almost orchestral bridge of fiddle, drums and keyboards. That same vocal becomes more hypnotic among the soft flute and brushed bodhrán of the sweetly soporific Bean Pháidín. The light touch continues as singer, songwriter Breda Mayock makes a guest appearance for the dreamy, dance floor vocal on Silent Place, and Rasa adds to the mysticism with bi-lingual vocals, soft African chant samples and steady beats alongside a lively fiddle jig.
It’s the perfect fusion of all these diverse elements that make Translate such an epic encounter, though. A ghostly fiddle emerges from vocal samples and beats before bass and percussion take Dying Of The Light toward club beats and vocals, with pipes emerging from the trance. The reverie continues for Skellig, with driving beats and a light dose of funky guitar behind the flute melody. The mesmeric, unflinching beat is king. There’s even room for some Dub, as drum and bass take flute, fiddle and Steve Cooney‘s Laethanta Saoire on a trip to Kingston.
If there’s a single track that encapsulates all the heat and excitement of Translate, it’s in the trance grooves of An Capall Dubh. Tabla, dobro and jaws harp herald a flute like a searing wind across a scorched plain. Impossibly fast Konnakol urges the beats ever faster until the flute becomes a hawk, soaring high above the scene, then swooping in hectic Konnakol and tabla, chasing down its prey. Éanna brings the album to a benign, reflective conclusion, echoing the opening melody.
For those of us who haven’t been able to enjoy Jiggy‘s undoubtedly phenomenal live sets, Translate offers us the chance to explore this unique celebration of song and melody, rhythm and dance in a studio setting that still manages to capture some of the raw excitement of those performances.
Along with a host of special guests, Jiggy are Daire Bracken – fiddle, Éamonn Galldubh – uilleann pipes, flute & whistles, Aoife Kelly – vocals, Éamonn de Barra – flute, whistles & vocals, Matthew ‘mattu’ Noone – sarode, Robbie Harris – bodhrán & percussion, Koushik Chandrashekar – mridangam & dholak.
What Jiggy do most successfully is prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that music is the heart and soul of the thriving, all-embracing multi-cultural arts scene in the Irish Republic. Translate is an exceptional and intoxicating album that will find its way into the heart and soul of an ever-increasing audience.