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Aly Bain and Ale Möller

Beyond the Stacks

(NorthSide; US: 28 Aug 2007; UK: 21 May 2007)

In 2002 the Swedish mandola player Ale Möller collaborated with Aly Bain, a fiddler from the Shetland Islands, a place where, to quote the tourist website, “Scotland meets Scandinavia”, and together they released a disc called Fully Rigged. Beyond the Stacks is that album’s sequel. Like many sequels, it gives you more of the same but you don’t mind at all because you enjoyed everything so much the first time around that you didn’t really want it to change. They’ve chosen tunes from both Scandinavia and the British Isles, with most of the album being moderately paced (even “O’Farrel’s Welcome to Limerick”, which has been adapted from an Irish piper’s jig) and flavoured with the rhubarby sweet, tart slur of syncopated strings. Both men are experienced musicians; the playing is more or less exquisite. The pacing makes Beyond the Stacks a folk album for people who like to sit and listen, rather than people who like to dance, but there’s no shame in that, and, in this case, no boredom either.

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