NlGHTNOISE - THE WHITE HORSE SESSIONS is the seventh album of sparkling and spirited Celtíc-fiavored magic from Nightnoise, an accomplished quartet whose deftly-woven musical tapestries have been thrilling audiences world-wide for twelve years.However, this álbum, as its tille implies, is quite different from its half-dozen predecessors: it was recorded live, capturing for the first time on record Nightnoise's rare and exquisite blending of superb musicianship, manic live energy, and warm emotional resonance.The tour members oí Nightnoise — Triona Ni Dhomhnaill (piano, vocals, synthesixer), her brother Micheal O Domhnaill (guitar,vocals, whistle), Brian Dunning (alto flute, whistle), and Johnny Cunningham (fiddle) — first toyed with the idea of doing a live album during a recent tour of Spain, a region that has warmly taken the band to heart. "We've been touring Spain for the last few years with much success." explains O Domhnaill. "Gradually it dawned on us that this would be a great place to do a live album." Unfortunately, due to timing and logistics. the band was unable to put together a complete live recording in Spain. However, they were able to use three tracks — "Shuan," "Night in That Land" and ''At the Races' — from an earlier show, recorded in Malaga in late 1995. "If we'd been smart," admits Dunning, "we'd have been recording the Spanish shows all along."Instead, the idea was broached to record the balance of the album in the band's own back yard: at White Horse Studios in Portland, Oregon, the studio of choice for the last two Nightnoise albums, A Different Shore and Shadow of Time. They invited forty of their closest friends to till up the small room, and played three nights of shows. O Domhnaill, for one, found the entire process "quite nerve-wracking. Every time you looked up you were looking at somebody you'd spent the last ten years of your life with. In the intimacy of a small recording studio, I found it quite traumatic. But it gives you an edge as well. and I think that's good for the music, There's a certain urgency about it that I like." The resultant White Horse sessions provided the other nine of the album's twelve tracks.Marks the third collection from the current incarnation of Nightnoise, a band which began in Portland as the duo of O'Domhnaill and fiddler Billy Oskay, who released their self-titled debut album in 1984. For the second álbum, 1987's Something of Time. O 'Domhnaill persuaded his sister Triona and flutist Dunning (all three Irish natives) to move west to Portland from North Carolina and New York, respectively, and three more albums followed. In the early 90's, Scottish fiddler Cunningham replaced Oskay, and A Different Shore and Shadow ofTime were released.Over the years. the music that defines Nightnoise has changed, growing ever more complex and dynamic while still retaining a deep emotional connection to the traditions of their shared Celtic past. "It's unavoídable, it's who we are, it's part of our Celtic heritage," says O' Domhnaill, who is also known for producing Volumes One and Two of the popular Windham Hill collections A Celtic Christmas. "But we don't write tunes in the traditional styles. We write new music. It's like knitting a jumper: the end result is something very basic, very simple, but there's quite a lot ot different elements that go into it." Adds his sister Triona, "We can't get away from the fact that we're Irish, and yet we've listened to everything from traditional Irish music to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn to the Beatles and the Stones."Although the band enjoys the studio recording process, playing live is a liberating experience. One provides for maximum artistic refinement, the other for sheer physical release, or as Dunning States, "What you lose in the swings, you make up in the roundabout." O 'Domhnaill agrees, decrying the "antiseptic" nature of studio time. "I love playing live," he states. "It's very different, much more physical. The studio's more cerebral. You take your rough mixes home in the evening, and you can be quite chuffed with yourself, but you don't get the same physical kick off it that you do off the live show. It's a great buzz."The band is also thrilled with their newfound popularity in Spain, a country that shares a centuries-old historical bond with Ireland. O Domhnaill and his bandmates cite the history of commerce between the two countries, their common battles with the English, and Spain's emergence from under an oppressive Fascist regime as factors in their connection with the Spanish audiences. "They've really embraced the freedom and the spirit of Irish music," says O Domhnaill. "When we go over there it's almost as if we're going to our first cousins'. It's just a great, warm feeling of family, like being welcomed home."Currently occupied with their weekly appearances on a live Irish television show, the band is taking the opportunity to broaden their musical palette by playing with a number of ditferent Irish musicians, experimenting with different sounds and combinations. "It's an exciting time for us," says O Domhnaill. "Nightnoise is in an onward-looking, forward-moving mode, and we're all happy for that." In addition,flutist Dunning is preparing for the release of his upcoming duet recording with Jeff Johnson, Celtic Legends. The Bard & The Warrior, scheduled for release on Windham Hill Records.Clearly, with the release of The White Horse Sessions and their increasing worldwide visibility, Nightnoise is a band in their prime, whose best and most vital days lie over the nearest horizon.
Press Review on Behalf of Windham Hill Records Publicity
Release Date: January 1997
Windham Hill Records Internet Address: http://www.windham.com/