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Album Review

Like many other Scottish bands, Tartan Amoebas are at the forefront of creating innovative contemporary Celtic music. In fact, there's very little musical territory left uncovered on their fourth album, Giant. Songwriter and fiddler Fraser McNaughton has found a way to work a host of styles into this recording; most obviously Scottish-influenced fiddle and bagpipe music. One of the more interesting elements of this recording is the use of trumpet and saxophone in conjunction with the traditional instruments. It's done in a manner very similar to the technique that Mike Oldfield employed on Platinum and Airborn — not big brassy exhibitions with elongated solos, but rather injections of short staccato passages which accentuate the melody. Predominantly an instrumental album, Giant includes two vocal pieces sung by piper Julie Fowlis. "Rescue" is an upbeat, dance-inflicted trance number, while "Dàn" is a slower piece in which Fowlis' voice recalls the more reserved moments by Sinéad O'Connor or Dolores O'Riordan. McNaughton's exemplary fiddling is particularly evident on "Head in the Clouds" and "Strange Days." The former is a more traditional-sounding piece with the fiddle working in tandem with the horn section, whereas "Strange Days" is an esoteric, futuristic, brassy, R&B fiddle number suitable, perhaps, for a soundtrack to the television series Highlander. "Jeely Piece" is a bagpipe-driven song accompanied by the jazzy duo of Tom Dalzell (saxophone) and Patrick Delvin (trumpet), and the funky rhythm of bassist Jason Wotherspoon and drummer Gavin Rutledge.

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