SPIRO: Kaleidophonica

Spiro: Kaleidophonica


RealWorld 188


Spiro is a quartet of highly imaginative musicians centered around the English town of Bristol. At first glance the combination of fiddle, piano accordion, mandolin and guitar would indicate a traditional folk ensemble. The first hint that something is awry is indicated in the liner notes when it mentions that certain English traditional tunes are contained within some of the compositions. My interest was piqued.

I have some experience with the minimalist music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass through my collegiate music studies. Imagine my surprise upon first hearing Kaleidophonica. This certainly is not folk music beyond the instrumentation and the traditional tune suggestions. The repetitive phrasing indicates that much more is happening here. Buried below the insistent rhythm on many of the selections are classic traditional English melodies.

This may not be for everyone, but I find the recording very rewarding upon subsequent listening. Some of my favorite music contains sounds and styles that were new to me initially. Kaleidophonica is such a recording. Spiro is taking liberties with the tradition and that’s just fine with me.

Tom Druckenmiller

About Tom Druckenmiller

Tom has a long history with Sing Out! as a writer and regular contributor (for more than a decade) and deep and rich skills as a radio host and programmer of folk and roots music! He's been a folk musician and teacher for over forty years. Tom began playing and singing Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton songs, but fell in love with old-time music and the clawhammer banjo after hearing John McCutcheon at the legendary Bethlehem folk club Godfrey Daniels. He has studied with old-time music greats Dwight Diller, Riley Baugus and Norman and Nancy Blake … and has, himself, taught at many music camps and workshops including The Augusta Heritage Workshops (in Elkins WV), the Pocono Dulcimer Fest (in Stroudsburg PA) and the Maidencreek Old-Time Music Festival (in Blandon PA). Druckemiller’s continuing regular local radio gig “In The Tradition” has aired on WDIY-FM in Allentown PA for the past 16 years, and he also co-hosts the “Sunday Folk” program on the station.

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