Phil and Johnny Cunningham (Scotland) and Tríona and Michael Ó Domhnaill (Ireland) were major figures in their countries' traditional music revival in the 1970s and 1980s. Among all their various separate projects (Silly Wizard, The Bothy Band, Skara Brae, etc.), these two pairs of siblings collaborated under the name Relativity for two albums on the Green Linnet label. The eponymous RELATIVITY was the first, released in 1986.
The album is a typical mid-1980s effort in that it seems torn between traditional acoustic music and synthesizers, and between energetic folk music with its basis in live village performance and the more contemplative, New Age sound that many artists were to explore in the 1990s (as did Johnny, Triona and Michael under the name Nightnoise).
I greatly prefer the more unplugged tracks. The opening "The Hut on Staffin Island/Sandy MacLeod of Garafad/The Soft Horse Reel" takes some time to find its footing, but eventually proves confident "John Cunningham's Return to Edinburgh / Heather Bells / The Bell Reel / The Limeric Lasses" is as strong as any traditional instrumental performance these musicians have ever given. "Gile Mear" and "An Seanduine Doite" are rousing songs in Scottish Gaelic and Irish respectively.
On the other hand, "There was a Lady", "Gracelands" and "When Barney Flew Over the Hills" have overly slick modern production. The closing "Úr-Chill An Chreagáin", a setting of Art Mac Cumhaig's Gaelic poem, is lethargic.
Thus I'm left with mixed feelings about the album. RELATIVITY will appeal to fans of "Celtic" music, who would certainly develop an appreciation for these artists from other projects, but I'm reluctant to recommend it to a general audience.