Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Matching 18th and 17th-century Gaelic songs to sweeping electronic soundscapes, with shifting background images to match,
Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30)
Whyte is a duo of Mull singer Alasdair C Whyte and composer, keyboard player and laptop operative Ross Whyte (no relation).
Part of the Fringe’s Made in Scotland strand, their show reprises the well-received album they released last autumn, Fairich (Gaelic for “awake,” “sense,” or “feel”).
It’s a pretty immersive experience, with Alasdair’s poised and expressive singing couched in Ross’s often cavernous electronic soundscapes, the two performers’ shadowy presences on either side of the stage, allowing full view of Dan Shay’s faintly trippy, colourised footage of shadowy landscapes and glimmering seascapes.
Alasdair’s singing commands from the offset in the opening Gaoir, a lament which sets the tone for much of the programme, while the accompaniments are envelopingly ambient, sometimes with percussive pulsing, or with effects such as creaking timbers for Black Oaken Boat, while the title track is a relatively mellow keyboard-led instrumental spliced with old field recordings of waulking song chorusing.
There’s a strong sense of motion in the seaborne An Làir Dhonn – “The Brown Mare” – while the images grow darker for the dramatically declamatory Cumha Ni Mhic Raghnaill – a sister’s lament for her murdered brothers, and a weathered graveyard angel presides over the closing Cionran (“melancholia”), stilling and reflective over a simple keyboard accompaniment.
They perform it in a more or less seamless sweep of music and image, with no introductions.
For us hapless non-Gaels, translations and programme notes were available after the concert, and while they would be impossible to read in the darkened auditorium, some kind of priming beforehand would have enhanced our engagement with this often beautiful show.
Until 28 August. Today 8pm.