The Maniacs – The Maniacs

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Taking three eighteenth century country dance tune books as a source and starting point for this project, Belshazzar’s Feast accordionist extraordinaire Paul Hutchinson joins forces with clarinetist Karen Wimhurst, violinist Seona Pritchard and cellist Gill Redmond for ten dazzling arrangements of tunes from those collections. Despite taking a rather Punkish name for the collaboration, Maniacs merely describes the quartet’s maniacal love and appreciation of this type of dance music, which is demonstrated in the delivery.

The ten compositions included were selected from twenty chosen for a residential music weekend held at Halsway Manor in Somerset and went on to be recorded in Shroton Church in Dorset. It’s always futile to try and describe this sort of music, but once heard, there’s an almost instant familiarity and recognition, which at one moment sounds very much like those engaging country dance tunes we hear in period dramas and Hardy adaptations, then again there’s a distinct Classical feel, together with a few subliminal jazz undertones added to the mix. It’s all good music though, which swings in places and somehow takes you by surprise. Quite lovely really.

Choice Track: Roodulum (NSV 497)