"Grit" was my introduction proper to the music of Martyn Bennett, and this after learning of his tragic untimely death. This album is a passionate statement, a lust for life, it is wildly inventive, playful and irreverent yet rooted in a deep respect for the traditional music of Scotland, and I am thinking something of a self-portrait of a very talented musician, cramming important pieces of his world into a kaleidoscopic 50-odd minute fantasy.
I agree with the apt description here on Amazon likening his style to Bjork, I hadn't thought of that before reading the review but it's so true, and somehow explains a part of the appeal to me. Sweeping strings, intoxicating beats, panoramic spaces, and a bedrock of these fantastic traditional songs. And the song samples, though sometimes scrambled out of shape as if reflected in those bendy fairground mirrors, really are at the heart of things, which is perhaps unusual in the techno scene. So there's all this contemporary language scrawled across age-old songs, and yet I am in no doubt that Martyn was full of respect for the tradition and knew that the songs themselves will outlive his mischief. I believe he said that he enjoyed performing the traditional music straight more than anything. But he was possessed of a cheeky elfish nature and the talent to make these big bold bright statements, so something unusual was bound to come of it.
"Grit" is a world away from the main streams of contemporary Celtic folk-crossover (the limp new-agey variety or the plodding anthemic folk-rock), it has a refreshing vitality and bite, it is brazen and spirited, and it will either put a big smile on your face or have you seething! I've got a smile!