Album reviews: Karl Bartos | Low | Aaron Diehl | Daniel Hope

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Scotland on Sunday’s music critics give their verdict on the week’s latest releases

POP

Karl Bartos

Off The Record

Bureau B, £12.99

Star rating: * * *

A member of seminal electro band Kraftwerk from 1975 to 1990, Bartos is revisiting the audio diaries he kept during that time. Visually he recalls Max Headroom, sonically Krautrock with a sweeter commercial bent.

The tunes are playful, powered by pulsating synths and poppy with it – listen to International Velvet or Without A Trace Of Emotion to hear a hint of the genesis of Pet Shop Boys. Or if you enjoy a more metallic edge, the opening Atomium or Musiik Ex Machina both grind the Germanic gears.

A fascinating insight into the workings of an electro innovator, if not particularly revelatory.

Colin Somerville

Download this: Nachtfahrt, Hausmusik

Low

The Invisible Way

Sub Pop, £12.99

Star rating: * * * *

Sumptuous if not sensational, the tenth album from Alan Sparhawk and his wife Alison Parker consolidates Low’s career thus far.

Produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, the record is drenched in that wistful melancholy that is his trademark, but the strength and charm of Low lies in the vocal dynamics of the two principle players.

Songs such as Amethyst and So Blue pulse with an emotional intensity that cannot be achieved with decibels alone.

Clarence White is charged with urgency and considerable passion, while Just Make It Stop has a delicious slow-burning hook which would make The Mamas & the Papas proud.

CS

Download this: Just Make It Stop, Waiting

FOLK

Various Artists

Celtic Airs & Reflective Melodies

Greentrax Records CDGMP8015, £9.99

Star rating: * * * *

When you’ve stepped too much, marched or danced yourself silly, and turned your attention to the eternal verities, you will need some slow airs – and here they are. From Lord Galloway’s Lamentation, played by Ceolbeg, to Leaving Lerwick Harbour by Fiddler’s Bid, 18 tracks take in the whole of Scotland – with a sweet trip to Spain’s Asturias. But this is more than a trip to the chillout room. These 18 tracks are powerful, and emotionally moving, particularly Viv Hardie’s vocables with her late husband’s fiddle in Liathatch, Lorne MacDougall’s pipes in Lament For The Small Isles, and the beautiful Swan by Fiddler’s Bid. An added bonus is that it’s a lower-price album from Greentrax.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: Denny’s Air

JAZZ

Aaron Diehl

The Bespoke Man’s Narrative

Mack Avenue MAC 1066, £13.99

Star rating: * * *

Scottish audiences first encountered 26-year-old pianist Diehl last year at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival 
when his gigs included the World Jazz Orchestra concert of Ellington music. That concert is recalled in one of the tracks on this stylish, though slightly uneven and dry album, in the form of a lovely reading of Single Petal Of A Rose. Other highlights include the crisp and groovy Prologue, which showcases this slick quartet and particularly the rapport between Diehl and vibraphonist Warren Wolf.

Alison Kerr

Download this: Prologue, Single Petal of a Rose

CLASSICAL

Daniel Hope

Spheres

Deutsche Grammophon, £13.99

Star rating: * * * * *

Nominally connected by the theme of the music of the spheres, this album by violinist Daniel Hope ranges from the 17th century to the present day. Harmony is ever-present in these works, as is a certain degree of surprise, especially in the opening Imitazione Delle Campane by Johann Paul von Westhoff, a work that pre-dates Bach by a violinist and composer who clearly influenced the latter.

Von Westhoff’s music, alongside Bach’s, appears in modern transcriptions that make them sound wholly contemporary without betraying the spirit of the originals. And none of the modern works performed here suffer by comparison. The chosen works are varied in everything except quality, conveying an overarching sense of calm. Delightful.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Imitazione Delle Campane

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