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Ross & AliRoss & Ali
Album: Symbiosis
Label: Great White
Tracks: 9

If the set the pair played at The Met's Big Whistle Festival back in May (FATEA review here) was anything to go by, 'Symbiosis' should be a cracker. From the Vale Of Atholl pipe band to becoming part of the all conquering Treacherous Orchestra, Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton have finally realised the potential of their partnership and gone and done the decent thing by recording a set of tunes together. Praise be!

Naturally, the album was recorded as live as possible to capture that connection, the bond that the two have when playing live - and you can bet your boots that a fair amount of good craic going down too. 'Symbiosis' covers nine tracks which bundle together sets of tunes mainly written by the guys themselves with a couple of contributions from Gordon Duncan and Martyn Bennett, who've added their own fair share of inspiration into the duo's make up. There's quite a pastoral and gentle opening too, with the pair alternating between combos of various whistles, pipes, cittern and guitar plus the subtle use of Martin O'Neill's bodhran throughout of the majority of the album with Duncan Lyall adding some double bass here and there for a tad of depth. By the end of track 2 in the 'Smiler' set they start to give a glimpse of what to expect when they take off.

There's some lovely intricate whistle work between the two of them on 'Fourth', which might even be the surprise pick of the bunch while further down the line, a couple of the tunes you could see getting the full band Treacherous treatment - there's some deft fleet fingered pipework on the highland pipes on the 'Wan' tune set, the whistle equivalent of guitar shredding, where a full band jumping in on what the rock brigade would call 'the riff' would be explosive. The moment in 'Gaelic' where they shift from Ross' 'Elizabeth's Trip To Perthshire' into the trad. 'Hug Oindh Hindh Haindh' is a similar jiggery folkery blast from the Ross / Ali / Duncan / Martin quartet. 'Symbiosis' delivers what it promises. Not only a delight, as the FATEA T-shirts often state, it folk 'n' rocks.

Mike Ainscoe