Qristina & Quinn BachandQristina & Quinn Bachand
Album: Little Hinges
Label: Beacon Ridge Productions
Tracks: 14

Canadian brother-and-sister duo who scored with their earlier CD Family a year or so back now return with a fresh collection of tracks launched at this year's Celtic Connections barely a day or so ago. Little Hinges both opens and holds open the doors between the duo's twin worlds of musical experience: the beautiful but rigidly-grounded traditional music they love and the various sounds and inspirations they've accumulated over the past three years.

Little Hinges is a more consciously assembled set than its predecessor, ostensibly sub-divided into two sections with a subdued "subconscious dreamland of sounds" interlude (which gives the album its overall title) connecting them. The whole album's prelude is a moody "puzzle piece" created on a Space Echo with a mangled loop (don't ask!). The first half of the disc is the more traditional, with spirited sets of tunes alternating with songs (the standard Crooked Jack is given a mellow, considered reading, while Si Kahn's What You Do With What You've Got is highly driven and motivated).

Moving past the connecting interlude, we encounter the duo's more experimental side, with further demonstrations of Quinn's prowess as multi-instrumentalist (acoustic and electric guitars, fiddle, tenor and clawhammer banjo, bass, percussion, autoharp, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, Hammond, pump organ etc.) on an even more eclectic selection of source material that at times is subjected to some decidedly weird treatments. Hang Me and Hangman's Reel provide the bookends, the former sounding like a distortion-addled early-Grateful-Dead adventure from Aoxomoxoa and the latter a vibrant twin-fiddle outing recorded in the kitchen I'd guess! Jimmy's Fiddle is a dreamy psychedelic number from the pen of Red Moon Road's Daniel Jordan; Saint Nothing has an ominously languid trip-hop feel and sampled thunderstorm; Listen is a reflective self-penned number replete with glowering atmospherics; Never Goodbye an affectionate close-of-evening tune; and Three Little Babes is a chillingly-turned, almost Snakefarm-like adaptation of Child Ballad #79.

I could further persuade you of the disc's charms by turning the spotlight onto Qristina's excellent lead vocals and characterful, uplifting fiddle playing. But either way, just one listen to this interestingly diverse record should convince you of its lasting quality and highly stimulating nature.

David Kidman