Barry Goodman on Binary

Binary is a double CD of 23 tracks by the superbly talented dance band Albireo. Based in the North West of England, the band has played at festivals and ceilidh series all over the country and released their first album, Northern Cross in 2010.

This latest offering comprises a disc designed for just listening and a further disc for dancing to. The tunes range from Playford to recently-composed dance tunes (some by members of the band) and cover most of the familiar dance styles – jigs, polkas, waltzes, a bransle, some 3/2 hornpipes and some set tunes for Playford-style dances. In fact, most of the tunes on the two discs are perfectly suitable for dancing. The very informative sleeve-notes indicate not only the types of tunes, but the speed and number of times each is played through, making the whole package a very useful resource for dance clubs and callers.

The music is skillfully arranged and beautifully played by the band. The instrumentation is wide-ranging, featuring fiddle, concertinas, melodeon, bass, harp, guitar, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, piano, recorder and mandola. Needless to say, most of the five band-members are multi-instrumentalists!

All the music is great to listen to – the selection of music and the variety of styles keep the listener’s interest throughout the whole album. Every instrument can be heard clearly in the excellent production by Jon Loomes (who also plays hurdy-gurdy on one track), the sleeve-notes are informative and funny and the packaging is neat and accessible.

Whether you want to dance or just listen, or both – this is a first-class piece of work, showcasing one of the most versatile bands on the current scene; an absolute must for anyone’s collection!

Barry Goodman, Shire Folk