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Luke DanielsLuke Daniels
Album: Revolve And Rotate
Label: Gael Productions
Tracks: 12

When it comes to taking on something unique and original, Luke Daniels' recent endeavours must rank right up there in the top tens of fascinating projects. He may be a character familiar to many in the folk world yet there's much more to him than as a Cara Dillon melodeon sidesman - a role which really is just the tip of the iceberg; his guitar playing, which features heavily on the new album, has always been a treat when he goes solo and now with 'Revolve & Rotate' he's undertaken a task at which many hardier souls would have baulked.

Having seen Luke play a couple of gigs at Bury Met as support to Lau, essentially road testing the show, the songs and perhaps more importantly, the hardware, it's enlightening to see the recorded output from his labours. Like a much calmer than Back To The Future's Doc Brown, he twisted and twiddled with all manner of discs, settings and combined with a laptop, held the audience spellbound as he plucked sounds from his hat which felt like you were at the birth of something special. The combination the old and the new both bold one and inventive.

It's well worth doing the research and finding out a little more about one of the first disc playing musical contraptions dating from the late 19th Century. It's not worth attempting to paraphrase the technical details at this point, suffice to say that in using software to create co-ordinates for the polyphon's 19" steel discs and combine the two technologies must have been a painstaking and at times laborious and frustrating process. However, the results are quite flabbergasting and nothing like the folk, the music world in general to be truthful, will have seen or heard before. A genuinely unique piece of work resulting in an album of original music , bar the trad. 'Canadee I O' which also gets the polyphon treatment. In fact the latter is perhaps one of the highlights, the trad. world combining with a familiar melody played out on guitar and programmed into the polyphon could be the embodiment of exquisite.

The polyphon itself appears on 'Revolve & Rotate' parts 1, 2 and 3 and the superbly intriguing 'Fifteen Hours In A Supermarket'; the latter switching between the mundane and the keenly observed. The combinations of polyphon and electric guitar or 5 string zither has an element of avant-garde improvisation and experimentation about them; it's edge of your seat listening stuff as you strain to guess where the music is going to take you. Strangely enough, the polyphon introduces a sound which seems almost immediately recognisable. The musical box sparkle and percussive notes create a familiar fairground carousel atmosphere and it would be easy to be dazzled and skip some quality songwriting in the rush to hear what the fuss over the polyphon is all about.

A superb pairing of songs starts with 'Nostradamus', an ominous Dylan-like tirade although the "I don't know but I've been told" line might have old rockers make a mental follow up with a line about a big legged woman who ain't got no soul (a la Led Zep's 'Black Dog'). Followed by the lengthy 'Stone & Quarter' which has a much more pastoral feel, they are typical of the road he's taken to follow up the promise displayed in 'What's Here What's Gone'. It's a testament to his ever growing confidence and assuredness in his role as a singer-songwriter that all trace of melodeon is gone. Yes, he's pulled along a few guests to add some decoration to his own self-assured playing - James Fagan and Ian Stephenson on their respective stringed specialities and there's also Julian Sutton's melodeon - and in 'Revolve & Rotate' Luke has created an intriguing collection.

Mike Ainscoe