Ancient Hype, a five piece Celtic band from Cologne, Germany, brings us a pleasant follow-up album with Endless Tunes. There are many more traditional ballads, with their own distinctive cittern-flavored interpretation. They offer a more low pitched and laid-back version of the popular Celtic tune "All For Mairi's Wedding," adding the group's characteristic sound with deep, rumbling vocals. For contrast, "Cock of the North" is haunting and lightly eerie, despite being the tale of a lover's return with treasure for the lady waiting at home. "Lakes of Pontchartrain (Louisiana Rap)" is an instrumental variation, a sort of Celtic-meets-jazz sound. Particularly noteworthy as well is the all instrumental performance of Hugh O'Donnell with accordion followed by lilting strings. There's also a case where folk tradition and the many variations on a single old song come into play. In other versions, the suitor of "Leezie Lindsay" is Lord Ronald McDonald. Due to the unfortunate advent of a certain hamburger clown, it's difficult to hear anyone sing about Lord Ronald McDonald in the 20th or 21st century, and take it seriously, as it was originally meant. So in this version, it's changed to Lord Malcom McDonald instead, and that solves the problem. This is a lovely balladic rendition of the song, and a delight to listen to. Ancient Hype is willing to experiment fairly dramatically on the Celtic theme. Some of their variations are unexpected yet effective, while others are distinctly on the eccentric side. Here's an example of each: While other groups perform "Leaving of Liverpool" as a rollicking sea chantey, Ancient Hype casts it as a more melancholy plaint, which fits the lyrics about a sailor leaving his beloved, yet pledging to return to her. On the other hand, the one that comes off more than a bit strange is a very honkytonk version of "Kelly of Killanne." They get it to work, and casual listeners will probably tap their feet in time, but traditionalists may have trouble with the liberties taken with the song, including the entire omission of the closing verses. Overall, casual listeners will find this album to be another mellow, easy-on-the-ears collection, while fans will appreciate it for offering more of the Celtic variations that Ancient Hype does so well.
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