Trip – A Drop For Neptune: Album Review

Glasgow six-piece Trip release their debut, four years in the making.

Release Date: 28th January 2022

Label: Trip Music Records

Format: CD / digital

Careful with that Google thing. Make sure you don’t chance upon “one of the most wanted party bands in the Midlands,” or The Trip – a British-Italian progressive rock band of the early 1970s. This Trip just happens to be the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland version no less.

Sounds rather grand but the six clearly have their feet grounded – how else would they create such an album where the foot-tapping element is essential. Indeed, as we speak, they’re probably setting some musical fireworks off at Celtic Connections.

The lineup boasts accordionist Michael Biggins (BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2021), All-Ireland champion flautist Tiernan Cournell, Manx fiddler Isla Callister who join Scots Alasdair Mackenzie (guitar/vocals) Rory Matheson (piano) and Craig Baxter (Bohdan). They deliver on a number of tunes, be they self-penned or based on the traditional melodies of their homelands the Isle Of Man, Scotland and Ireland. The result represents a mighty Celtic cocktail.

And the hope with a new outfit such as Trip is that they’re going to provide the sort of exhilarating dynamics that encourage the traditional chair dancers to their feet at festivals, if not folk clubs, around the nations. It’s exactly what we get with the opening flurry where September Sea captures elements of the Scots, Irish and Manx tunes both trad and original. It also provides the start of several pieces inspired by the sea, the first chapter closing with Isla Callister’s song Turning Tides; an easy flowing number sung by Alasdair, that captures her own and general connection we have with our roots.

Those wistful thoughts mellowness carry over into Mackay’s and the slow air on Flaith Na Faiche as the fire and the fury momentarily take a back seat. From the pen of the mighty John Doyle (no introduction necessary) comes The Arabic; a fascinating tale of the SS Arabic where Doyle’s Grandfather survived the sinking of the ship by a german submarine in 1915. Sounds a similar episode to the Lusitania story, and one which adds an authentic real-life solemnity to proceedings.

The Ninth Wave sees traditional and contemporary styles coming together with two reels getting a thorough work out. It might take a more experienced and familiar ear than mine to spot the join. The key for me is always hearing that bubbling percussion that really drives the tunes. Naturally, the album closes with a journey from calm to storm, hence Towards The Storm, where the opportunity to cut a rug for one final time is impossible to resist. Thought so hearing this onstage inevitably turn to the sight of the band urging each other to continually up the tempo.

Trip evoke a similar excitement to that which has been explored by the likes of Manran, Barrule and Imar. That sort of vibrant effervescence that makes people believe in Folk music and the power of those traditional instruments. Music NOT to sit down to. Don’t you dare.

Get a flavour of Trip with The Sweetheart Reels:

Trip online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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