Celtic melodies and electronica collide in The Good Neighbors | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Celtic melodies and electronica collide in The Good Neighbors

The Good Neighbors

Gin Guid Neibour Ye Ca' Me, Then Guid Neibour I Will Be.


Ah, the '90s, when all-things-Scottish reached critical mass in pop culture. In retrospect, it seems that, even as the world discovered Braveheart and bagpipes, ordinarily traditional musicians were discovering pop music ... and wanting in. Thus you got groups like Wolfstone, which fused heavy metal with bagpipes, that screaming Stratocaster of antiquity. It was the best of times and the worst of times, the times of Enya and -- seemingly in an alternate universe -- emerging rave culture.

With that in mind, this effort from The Good Neighbors seems a bit late to both the Celtic-crossover dance and the rave. Taking old, predominantly Scottish dance tunes (think jigs and reels), local musician Josh Loughrey turns them into wholly synthetic, instrumental trance. (Loughrey is perhaps better known around these parts for his disparate work with Pancreatic Aardvarks, Gallows Tree and Narse.)

"The Raven's Wing" opens the eight-song CD, going immediately for the basic thud-thud dance beat, while "Tam Lin" starts with a simple melody and countermelody, with drums and other elements gradually increasing in complexity. While most of the source material is naturally fast and lends itself to Loughrey's instrumental frenzy, "Rosalyn Castle" opens with a haunting, psychedelic ambience, all oceanic reverb and sci-fi sounds, and "The Queen of May" gradually develops out of a chiming, music-box melody.

Whether you're a fan of Scottish folk music or electronic dance music, it's inevitable that much of this recording will seem cheesy, even if it is fairly accomplished and harmonically innovative. And it's a bit hard to tell what you're supposed to do with it, exactly -- listen to it? Dance to it? But as unlikely a niche as Celt-trance might seem, Loughrey likes it, and there's probably a lot more like him out there -- it's a big country. You know, where dreams stay with you.

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