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Natural Selection: Dodo Street



Returning from 300 years of extinction, Dodo Street have recorded a trailblazing, joyously wild musical odyssey, encompassing melodies from the shores of the Hebrides to the mountains of Eastern-Europe.

Their history-defying existence brings extreme velocity and inhuman precision from Adam Summerhayes (“astonishing, all-out virtuosity” New York Times) and Piers Adams (“superhuman” Washington Post) – and the rest of the band is equally virtuosic. Master accordionist Murray Grainger and one of Europe’s most renowned bass players, Malcolm Creese, provide the powerful core of the band as well as dynamic solos. The livewire Cormac Byrne, king of Irish percussion and BBC Folk Award-winning bodhran player, can easily steal the show. But it is the music that is really remarkable. There is nothing predictable about their tunes. On Natural Selection, a famous Irish melody might take a wild Klezmer twist, an ancient Scottish wedding song is recast in a mesmeric soundscape that evokes the lonely island from which it came, gypsy tunes and Eastern European rhythms spiral faster and faster, impossible not to dance to. Instrumental limits are pushed to the extreme, but the band never lose control or tightness and the music is, above all, driven by potent melodies, whether centuries old or newly penned.

Natural Selection: Dodo Street


THIS bunch of dodos is alive and doing fine. Do not be distracted by their hats — their madness is medicated with jaw-dropping instrumental skills. Adam Summerhayes (violin and composition), Malcolm Creese (bass), Murray Grainger (accordion), Cormac Byrne (bodhran and percussion) and Piers Adams (recorder) have been round the musical block more times than they care to admit. But it is this experience and unsurpassed individual virtuosity that makes Natural Selection nothing short of phenomenal. From the delicate pianissimos of St Kilda through the wondrous melancholy of Dodo’s and Neil Gow’s Laments to the soaring scapes of Larking, Flight of the Dodo or Cock at Sunrise, the musical precision and discipline are breathtaking as themes are moved masterfully between instruments. Klezmer, tango, Gypsy and Celtic echoes linger almost imperceptibly in these ear-worms. Hats off to the Dodo’s collective genius. ★★★★★ MorningStar

Any one of the five has a musical pedigree that you can only admire, collectively they work superbly together and it makes for a stunning sound (which they call Celtic Gypsy Klezmer) melding Scottish/Irish folk, gypsy and Eastern European tunes and rhythms.The other aspect to mention is the humour. The album tracks are titled in some way to give a link to the dodo. To give a couple of examples: ‘Flight Of The Dodo’ is described as “Commemorating the invention of a mechanical flying machine by dodos in 1803 (and the subsequent suppression of the fact by humans)”; and Track 8 is called ‘ Historic 1632 recording of Dodo calls (Courtesy of the descendants of Midshipman Alex Whammond)’. Dodo Street are definitely not a band of novices.

Klezmer tunes, the spirit of the Balkans’ Roma musicians and Celtic influences from Ireland and Scotland all find their launching pads in Dodo Street Band.  This five-piece features fiddle virtuosity from former classical player Adam Summerhayes, the recorder of Piers Adams, accordian master Murray Grainger, bassist Malcolm Creese and bodhrán player Cormac Byrne.  The world is not short of fine musicians drawing on disparate cultures to create new music out of older tunes, and on the likes of “Neil Gow’s Lament”, the mix of Irish and music from the Balkans proves cinematically effective – you can all but see in your mind’s eye an unrolling scroll of epic widescreen imagery.  These quieter moments have a longer lasting effect than the knees-up dance tunes, and Grainger’s accordian with Summerhayes’ fiddle are especially beautiful.

- Tim Cumming, Songlines

Described as 'the last word in Celtic Gypsy Klezmer' and with a sense of humour to match, Dodo Street consists of five exceptional musicians - Adrian Summerhayes (fiddle), Piers Adams (recorders), Malcolm Creese (bass), Cormac Byrne (percusiion and Murray Grainger (accordion). On Natural Selection, their first album, they are wild and wacky, tearing down musical barriers and prepared to go off on flights of fancy, thus undermining the dodos' claim to be flightless.

'Neil Gow's Lament' has its lovely melody picked out on accordion, recorder and fiddle, while Byrne applies subtle percussion. Byrne's stunning percussion is highlighted throughout, showcased particularly on 'Egg In  Jar' wherehe has to cope with an intruding recorder. Elsewhere, Summerhayes plays a significant role in the compositions, with a number of tunes that provide the oppertunity for a bit of a thrash. 'Cock At Sunrise' is one such tune, which is followed by 'an actual recording of the dod from 1632'.

Surreal sleeve notes suggest that dodos being extinct is fake news, and it's good to hear tunesfrom the rare dodo oeuvre on a remarkable album that is probablynot a patch on their live gigs.

- Ian Croft