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Beautiful Wasteland

Capercaillie

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Album Review

Yet another gorgeous outing from this Scottish group, one that combines, as usual, the band's respectful take on traditional material with its devotion to synthesized, exceedingly funky arrangements. It's a fusion that works far better than you'd think it would, in large part due to the power of Karen Matheson's crystalline voice. Beautiful Wasteland was recorded in the mountains of Andalucia, in Southern Spain, and if the album's sound isn't exactly Mediterranean, there's definitely a certain laid-back looseness to much of the proceedings. "M'Ionam" is a traditional song given a lush, sensual arrangement with an almost techno-ish breakbeat buried deep in the mix; "The Tree" combines a gentle sort of acoustic house groove with traditional puirt-a-beul (the unaccompanied, syncopated singing that is often used to accompany dancing in the Scottish tradition). For all the album's beauty, it doesn't ever gather much momentum. Matheson seems to be whispering everything she sings, and those interesting beats never do make it up to the front of the mix. Some will prefer it that way, certainly, and Capercaillie's many fans won't be disappointed.

Biography

Formed: Scotland

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s

The musical traditions of Scotland are fused with the dynamic drive and electronic instrumentation of contemporary music by Capercaillie (pronounced: Kap-ir-kay-lee). While their initial repertoire focused on traditional tunes collected from Christine Primrose, Flora MacNeill, and Na h'Oganaich, the group has increasingly incorporated modern influences. In a review of their 1999 album, To the Moon, Victor Arenas wrote, "It has been more than a decade of a constant evolution,...
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Beautiful Wasteland, Capercaillie
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