Sleeve notes by John O'Regan
A 'Fling' in Irish musical vernacular is a traditional dance type found in various part of the country especially Kerry, Mayo and Donegal. Often related to a Highland fling, the tune itself has a wild, rugged and restless sound to it denoting an intimate yet rural atmosphere.
Fling is also the name of a six-piece band from Friesland in the North of Holland.
A group of articulate, accomplished musicians their interpretations of Irish traditional music and song is ensconced in their love and respect of Irish culture. As regards their use of a band name in Fling's case the choice is an appropriate one as with the tune for which they decided to call themselves by Fling's music is by turns wild, rugged and restless but above all its real, devoid of cliché and false mannerisms - it's sound is a living sound.
Fling's first album 'The Wild Swans at Coole' made a favorable impression and now comes their second album 'The Blackbird'. The band Fling currently comprises of new member Toon van den Boogaard on Guitar, Bouzouki, Bass Pedal, lead vocalist, guitarist and keyboards player Gerrit Breteler, Evertjan 't Hart on Uilleann pipes, Low Whistles, Bodhrán, Guitar, and Bouzouki, percussionist Niels Schotsman, Khoji Wesselius on Concert Flute and whistle and fiddler Peter Zijlstra Vocalist Nathalie Bonne and Oeds Bouwsma on Double bass join Fling on 'The Blackbird' as special guests.
Fling's musical mix is rich, strong and distinctive with uilleann pipes, flute, and fiddle out front with guitar, bouzouki, and percussion behind. Vocally the singing is strong and passionate with huge amounts of enthusiasm and spirit and Fling's lead Voice Gerrit Breteler possesses a powerful and intense vocal range. There is nothing half-hearted here as Fling plays its music with a gutsy passion and zest for life.
Contained on 'The Blackbird' is a selection of Irish traditional tunes and songs, new settings of poems by W.B. Yeats, one Scottish song and several original pieces both airs and dance tunes. 'Return to Clifden' a slow air composed by Evertjan 't Hart features Keyboards - B Pipes, Flute and Fiddle setting the scene. Fling's original slow airs are highly evocative, dramatic and stirring and while self-penned are rooted within the core of Irish traditional music to the extent that they sound at once both ancient and modern.
Using traditional instrumentation such as the uilleann pipes, flute and fiddle as lead melody instruments over atmospheric keyboards, the melodic nuances reveal themselves confidently and without compromise –these are new tunes rooted within the Celtic tradition played with sensitivity, musical flair and emotional involvement. Beginning 'The Blackbird' with an original slow air 'Return to Clifden', the album closes with a traditional air 'Casadh na nGéanna (The turning of the geese)' this adds a sense of unity to the proceedings
While mastering the traditional rhythms of reels and jigs such as 'The Otters holt' and 'Coppers and Brass/Dever the dancer/The Cock and the Hen', Fling is not afraid of mixing dance idioms in their tune sets as exemplified in the Jig/reels conglomeration of ' Mist covered mountain'/'Hardiman's fancy/ 'The Ashplant' and also the reel/march combination of 'Sporting Paddy'/'Lord Mayo'. Their self-composed dance tunes also show their genuine love and attachment to Irish traditional idioms. Peter Zijlstra's original fiddle tune 'The Cat's whiskers' shows their command of the technical aspects of traditional dance rhythms and Evertjan 't Harts 'Annie's Wake' adds a perfect melodic foil to the Scottish traditional ballad 'Mill O' Tifty's Annie' which I remember hearing on the first Boys of The Lough album sung by Dick Gaughan from Leith, Edinburgh under the title of 'Andrew Lammie'.
Of the vocal contributions to 'The Blackbird' Fling takes traditional lyrics and the works of and create a fresh vibrant setting for the lyrical aspects of their material to flourish and take root. Gerrit Breteler and Evertjan 't Hart have set W.B. Yeats' 'On Woman' to their own music while traditional song lyrics like the title track 'The Blackbird' are handled tastefully and sensitively. Guest singer Nathalie Bonne whose singing made a commendable contribution to the title track of Fling's debut album 'The Wild Swans at Coole' again adds layers of harmonic texture with her sweet clear voice. 'The wind that shakes the Barley' and 'The next market day' show contrasting sides of the Irish vocal tradition, the patriotic narrative ballad and the more cerebral love song while the Scottish song 'Mill O' Tifty's Annie' again displays the lyrical forthrightness and melodic storytelling flow of classic Scottish narrative ballads.
The band members have visited Ireland individually and collectively to see the country and feel the pulse of the music and the people. This they have managed to bring into their own music, and as such they play their music with a rugged yet sensitive strain and approach. Yet being European they also delight in their own diversity and their own personality. When playing Irish music there is a feeling of familiarity with the native sound and styles that is not learned from records or feigning affection for all things Irish.
Their reaction to encountering Irish music was to learn it, play it and master it and add something of their own life experience to the music to make it personal and relevant and not just a mirror of the inspirational source, but something real and vital. The results are here on this their long awaited second album 'The Blackbird'.
Fling's first album 'The Wild Swans at Coole' made a favorable impression both in Holland
and outside. Irish ears that encountered it were taken by the band's sound, style of playing and arranging and the album's overall approach. Their second album 'The Blackbird' will not only please their expanded following but also win them many new converts to their cause and prove Fling to be a band worthy of its name.
John O'Regan, July 2001, Limerick Ireland