Kila – Tóg é go Bog é

Album Review | Kila Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

If we were to gather together each Kila release along with all the various solo records and side projects, we would have a rather prolific collection to behold and Tóg é go Bog é would probably gleam as the band’s stand out statement. Originally released on CD and cassette back in 1997, the album has now been re-issued as a double LP set, due in no small part to popular demand from vinyl revivalists. The Dublin-based band perform most of their songs in Gaelic, with the exception of the plaintive “Tip Toe” and present the sleeve notes in the same manner, leaving us in no doubt to the band’s origins. Unlike many contemporary Irish traditional bands though, Kila fuse their own particular Celtic roots with musics from all over the world, notably Africa. The mixture of African-inspired drums and percussion on the title song, provides a unique canvas for its Gaelic lyrics to splash their colours, likewise the a cappella “Bi Ann”, which blends beautifully the Gaelic song with Ladysmith Black Mambazo-like harmonies. It’s world fusion with subtlety, which even at that time provided the band with a chart single, “Ón Taobh Tuathail Amach”, sung in their native tongue with a Cuban/Afro influence, which was pretty much unprecedented at the time. If “Double Knuckle Shuffle” demonstrates the band’s playfulness, Dee Armstrong adds beauty through her sublime fiddle playing, notably on “Charlotte’s Web”, the opening tune to the “Dusty Wine Bottle” set. Then there’s the sheer energy of the band in full flight, such as the opener “Gwerzy” and the steady build of “Rusty Nails”, which makes the album just as important as it was back in the mid-1990s when it was first released.