high five

#7: Peatbog Faeries - "Faerie Stories" (2001)

I discovered British folk music aged seventeen, listening to Mike Harding’s Radio 2 show on a Wednesday evening with a pen and paper, only to discover that I had been surrounded for years by people who knew all about it. That seems to be the way of things, doesn’t it? Or it does for me. You spend ages skirting around a thing, finally stumble upon the version that knocks your socks off, and then three weeks later someone you never expected to agree with you sits you down and tells you: my friend, do I have some recommendations for you.

Somehow, through all of that, Peatbog Faeries never really showed up on my radar, and I am telling you now that this is An Absolute Travesty. As I write this, it is Friday evening, and in the last three days I have listened to Faerie Stories in full three times. I have sent tracks from it to two separate people, and was only prevented from bothering a third by the discovery that she’d already heard it, over a decade ago. Where has it been all my life? I don’t know, but it’s here now, and that’s what counts.

What it is, is a collection of half a dozen extremely good folk musicians, mixing some really very good Scottish Celtic folk with electronic undertones. Overtones. Tones. It’s pretty clear that they know their various genres extremely well and are having great fun smashing them together and seeing what the result is. This week that slotted in with my mood perfectly. What can I say. I’m a sucker for a good fiddle.

The entire album is instrumental, and for something so heavy on the bagpipes it has no right to veer so successfully towards funk in places, nor to be this particular variety of fun – which I’d like to suffix by saying I have a lot of time for bagpipes in general, and also that I lived off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile for a year circa 2012. Youtube is kind of lacking in stuff from the second half of Faerie Stories, which is where it stops being New!And!Fascinating! to me and starts settling into itself, but how far does your tongue have to be in your cheek to title something like this, “Folk Police”?

This is not objective at all but I had super-ridiculous amounts of fun with this album. It may or may not be to your taste but which is so much to mine that it is in my kitchen, eating my breakfast foods and making sarcastic comments about why I have not got around to the washing up yet. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have someone's back catalogue to purchase.

(P.S. I discovered recently that Mike Harding is still podcasting, and his taste is still great. If you generally like your music live, acoustic and with an emphasis on the storytelling, you could do significantly worse.)