The Arms Dealer's Daughter

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Fans of Afro Celt Sound System and Mouth Music will immediately recognize Shooglenifty as something of a kindred spirit to those bands, mixing Celtic roots music with a kaleidoscopic array of rhythmic influences both ancient and modern and from points all across the globe. The Arms Dealer's Daughter basically picks up where Solar Shears left off in 2001, delivering a mixed bag of tunes and rhythms that hits the spot more than it misses. Things get off to a pleasant, but not really compelling, start with four sets of original tunes, mostly written by fiddler Angus R. Grant and mandolin/banjo/bouzouki player Luke Plumb. Of these, the most exciting is the set that includes the title track and the raucously joyful "Aye Right." Then things really pick up and get interesting: the "Nordal Rumba," with its percolating combination of fiddle, Afro-Cuban drumbeats, and rollicking horns, is some of the most fun music recorded in this century; on "Maxine's Polka," the band dips into electronica textures and produces what may be the first junglist polka in the history of recorded Celtic music; "Fistful of Euro" is a dense and trip-hoppy fusion of Celtic and North African elements. "Carboni's Farewell" gets a bit too long-winded for its own good, but the energetic reel set "Scraping the Barrel" puts things back on solid footing again. Anyone with both a love of Celtic music and at least moderately adventurous ears will find much to enjoy on this album.

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