Published on February 15th, 2015 | by Mike Ainscoe0
Tom Kitching – Interloper
Cheshire born Tom Kitching is a former BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award finalist. Add to that his work in Pilgrim’s Way and his duo work with guitarist Gren Bartley, and then he’s already quite the package.
Taking up the reins to go it alone, he’s called upon a number of performers from foreign climes to have a go at putting an alternative stamp on traditional English folk. We’ve had alt-folk before which has taken a more C&W direction with the likes of Ahab, but never in this form as we know it (Jim). Accompanied by Norway’s Marut Falt, Scotland’s Freya Rae and Jim Molyneaux from good old Lancashire on drums and percussion, they’ve taken traditional music out for a ride into unexplored territory.
His philosophy of trying to “meld a sound with cross currents form many times and territories – still firmly rooted in the traditions of England” might sound quite a lofty ideal, yet taking as a starting point a set of ten jigs, hornpipes, Morris tunes and mazurkas, he’s created a multi textured and multi-facetted tapestry of arrangement.
All the tunes quite naturally get a chance to showcase the Kitching fiddle and the added originality and distinct sound of Jim Molyneaux’s percussion, which is often a rarity in folk recordings, give a freshness to the arrangements. With the splendidly named ‘Rufty Tufty’ opening up in a fairly safe way, the aim to move beyond what Kitching calls “village green folk” starts to appear with the following ‘La Rotta’ with whose medieval European folk feel sees the net to be cast more widely.
Not that this is a set of short and compact tunes. While ‘Elvin’ clocks in over six minutes, at over eight minutes ‘Gall Bladder’ skirts the extended tune territory and gives the players a chance to open up and even experiment to some extent. The interplay between the fiddle and the flute in the former while the latter develops from sparse atmospherics to a pleasant jig in its final stages. A similar shift in the mood change also occurs in some of the shorter tunes as well – listen out for ‘Cheshire’ which starts all lively and buoyant before slowing to a graceful air, whereas the morris tune ‘Fair Play’ starts off apace and then moves up another gear mid tune with the percussion and flute leading the charge.
Rounding off the album is Sean Heeley’s ‘Fast Dance’, a fine tribute to Tom’s mentor, and perhaps the inspiration for this album, his philosophy reflected very much in the tunes for the album. With a contemporary and suitably abstract cover which does bring to mind New Order’s ‘Best of’ album, it adds to not so much to challenging but pushing the boundaries of the traditional and the expected.