In a nutshell: an album of fantastic tunes, brilliantly played! You could analyse the time signatures and tempo changes of these exciting tunes (many co-composed by McSherry and O'Connor, others traditional arrangements) till the cows come home, but what's the point? This is a glorious forty minutes' listen from start to finish, overflowing with crisp, clear guitars, very fine percussion, expressive fiddle and keyboard playing from Dónal O'Connor (son of Gerry), and the masterly flute, whistle and uilleann pipe playing of John McSherry. Last time I heard McSherry was on his excellent `At First Light' venture with Michael McGoldrick. This album has equally strong impact, and if anything, it's all the more enjoyable for its varied instrumentation, which brims with energy.
Paul McSherry, Tony Byrne, Rubén Bada, and Gilles le Bigot play an array of guitars and bouzoukis, and create a rhythmic, `pulsing' acoustic sound - so satisfying and enjoyable at times that you feel you could `strip away' the lead instruments and just enjoy the strings! Shaun `Mudd' Wallace makes a real impact on percussion too. It's very rewarding to chance upon albums that introduce the best Celtic musicians from other countries to a new audience - as here, with Breton guitarist LeBigot, and Asturian bouzouki player Bada. There are just 8 tracks here, but there isn't a single tune that fails to engage my attention and interest, or reveal the empathy between all the musicians.
Title track `Tripswitch' is an ambient slow reel that showcases the talents of every performer, and reveals the intuitive playing of both lead musicians as pipes and fiddle meld seamlessly. `Spanish 5's' is a beautiful, sensual set of 5/8 dance tunes from Salamanca and Segovia - the time signatures are supposed to make you `dance like a lame person'! The low whistles of `Antón' somehow convey an ethereal feel, and `Áille's Arabesque', John's celebration of his daughter, effortlessly combines slip jig and double jig and features fine harmonium playing by Dónal. The reel sets are simply outstanding - `Rose in the Gap', `Sean Maguire's, and the `Commonalty Set'
`Tripswitch' succeeds in sounding fresh, exciting and innovative where rival contemporary Celtic instrumental albums fail to turn you on. Consummate musicianship, outstanding tunes - acoustic perfection.