Three years since their debut, the second album from TG4 Gradam (Comharcheoil) award winners, Ensemble Ériu, is out on Raelach Records. The title, Imbas, is an old Irish word for inspiration and creativity The album has six tracks, many of which have been honed in the live performances for which the band has earned so much praise.
From old jigs and reels associated with Co. Clare and musicians like Micho Russell, Bobby Casey, Willie Clancy, and Tony Mac Mahon, to a song collected in Connemara by Seamus Ennis and a contemporary composition by Peadar Ó Riada, there is a wide variety of source material.
However, as on the debut album, there is the signature twist given to the tunes by Ensemble Ériu’s unique approach to settings. It’s not a case of altering the tunes or forcing other material onto them. On the contrary, there is a noticeable foregrounding of the tunes themselves in this outing. As concertina player and co-founder, Jack Talty explains: “These are first and foremost just great tunes that we’ve listened to for years and love playing. With the band, we’re just emphasising particular things about them.”
“There is a lot of improvisation in the playing of traditional music if you listen for it,” says the other founder, Neil O’Loghlen (flute and double bass). “Some of what we do is just elaborating on the individual styles of those musicians we like. We’re shining a light on their music to show what is there and how good it is.”
As well as the great tunes and beautiful settings, there are – not surprisingly, given how much they have been gigging together since the first recording – more pronounced individual contributions to be heard from the other band members on this album: Maeve O’Hara on marimba, Matthew Berrill on clarinet, Jeremy Spencer on fiddle, Paddy Groenland on guitar, and Matthew Jacobson on drums.
Imbas is released jointly by Ensemble Music and Raelach Records in digital, CD and vinyl format.
Published on 12 October 2016