Our man in Canada, David Morrison, was so taken by Bird’s Nest, the last album from Canadian foursome The Fretless that he selected it as one of his Top 10 albums of 2016 and our reviewer Mel declared them a “unique voice that is rich, fresh and diverse.” They’ve taken advantage of their ever-broadening recognition by releasing an instrumental album of tunes representing their traditional roots. Recorded live in a barn in upstate New York before a handful-sized audience assembled only a few feet away from the players, Live From The Artfarm (April 6th) is the raw result of this performance and we have the pleasure in premiering their video for Holton Alan Moore’s. They shared the following about the tune.
“This one is all original. Melody written by Ben (Plotnick), arranged by the band. The least traditional on the record. We wanted to feature a tune by Ben on the album, and he came back with this monster of a piece. This modern tune really encompasses the energy and inventiveness that the band loves best. There’s a feeling of loneliness, inspiration and grit. We also used this tune to add techniques outside stringed instruments to the album. The violins emulate a tremolo on a Rhodes or guitar, the cello and violins create an electronic music inspired beat, the melody flows like a synth line.” – Trent Freeman, The Fretless.
Live From The Artfarm is a joyous recording that shows off why traditional folk music is finding an audience among the non-traditional, and also why The Fretless is leading the charge. Among the album’s “sets” – the term used in traditional Irish music for groups of three or more tunes arranged and played together – are three new originals by The Fretless. The album’s total of ten tunes were also beautifully filmed before multiple cameras, and singles from Live From The Artfarm will be circulated that way in order for the uninitiated to fully experience the boundless electricity of the evening.
“We’ve made a record of our favorite pub tunes, but transformed them in our world of arrangement and intricacy,” says fiddle and viola player, Trent Freeman. “We are hoping to bring the current pub crowd audience to us and we are hoping to bring a new crowd to the pub, too. We want everyone involved and there’s no better way than to have you in the room with us.”
It’s a give and take that makes the audience the fifth member of the band towards the end of the new album. As the enthusiastic response from the crowd grows, the band responds in kind. ‘
“Making this record was a test in getting out of the mindset of recording and into the mindset of performing,” says The Fretless cellist, Eric Wright continues. “To capture the energy of a concert, we had to play it like a concert. With Live From The Artfarm, we’re so excited to share the best part of The Fretless, which is seeing us live!”
The Fretless already has shows throughout North America booked into the fall, with more being added all the time. For those who can’t make it out, Live From The Artfarm serves as a document of what The Fretless can do in front of any crowd, big or small.
Live From The Artfarm, the fourth album by The Fretless, arrives on April 6th, 2018.
Main Image: The Fretless (L-R): Eric Wright, Karrnnel Sawitsky, Trent Freeman, Ben Plotnick.
Photo credit: Scott Ramsay