I've had this album a couple of weeks now, being one of the ones who decided they couldn't wait until the launch at Celtic Connections on 4th February, a return to the ABC, site of their triumphant gig in 2009 where I first saw them.
I've been in two minds to be honest, since their distinctly average performance at the Wickham festival. The long promise of the album that didn't appear- I suppose I imagined there'd be some kind of problem managing the twelve personalities and the whole band would implode be they ever really got going.
'Origins' has happily proved me wrong, the lush Duncan Lyall and co production just so crystal clear and defining that you can forgive the inclusion of the EP tracks; the fresh production revealing layers and qualities that either I'd missed or remained hidden live.
The album begins with a short overture, almost the tuning up of the orchestra. And by the time you've turned it up to hear it better you're straight into March of The Troutsman/Superfly, familiar to those who've seen the band live. Look East is a mixture of old and new; the funky vibes of Innes Watson's Wade on the Water shifting tempo unpredictably in suitably Treacherous manner into a John Somerville tune, before a brief prelude, a chance to catch your breath, settle back and revel in the best two tracks of the album, worth the price of the album alone.
Sea of Clouds reminded me of two other composers,Peter Morrison and Michael McGoldrick, both brilliant- and I love the way music moves along like this, inspiring and motivating, taking traditional roots and shaping them into something unique. The slow flute beginning evocative of the West Highlands,film score epic start that takes you on a journey through the mountains and lochs to end up somewhere altogether different- the equivalent of warm pub session.
Sea of Okhotsk starts in typically Treacherous fashion, building to a piece of orchestral genius, dancing beats with dark edgy undercurrents.This is the tune to dance round the kitchen to, to hike up the volume loud in your car, to experience live. Adam Sutherland at his brilliant best. Genius!
The album ends with the Ainslie classic Easter Island and the lighthearted ceilidh feel of the Sausages set, but for me the three things that turn Origins from being just something you'd expect from Treacherous Orchestra into something outstanding are the clarity of the production, Sea of Clouds and Sea of Okhotsk. Buy it. You'll see what I mean.