Wow. Just wow.
After a recording break of 14 years (!!!), Flook are back – and they sound as if they last played together just a few days ago.
They continue to amaze as they shine on this new album; for all the dazzling talents of its members, Flook are a remarkable unit as a band. The musical virtuosity on display is merely the cherry on top, the icing on the cake, the feather upon the camel’s back – whichever cliche you want to use.
The real stuff is in the deep musical thinking and the way Flook communicate their musical soul directly and forcefully. Every musician gets the most out of their instrument(s) with ease and natural beauty, breathing life into every phrase. It’s music to lift you up and make your heart beat faster.
Just listen to the first track on this album, Reel For Rubik / Toward The Sun. The groove is intense but unforced and relaxed; the flutes and whistles of Brian Finnegan and Sarah Allen swirl around but never aimlessly, always focused; Ed Boyd‘s guitar keeps the rhyhtm alive and flexible while Mr. John Joe Kelly‘s beater moves on and around the bodhran’s skin like a flamenco dancer, forceful and light at the same time.
And that’s just the first track, followed by the majestic The Crystal Year /Foxes’ Rock, a schoolbook lesson in sustained energy of “less is more” band playing. The groove and riff in the latter half remind me of Grainné Holland’s song Mise Agus Tusa from her latest album that Brian Finnegan produced – accidental or not, it works.
As the third track, Companion Star / The Coral Castle, comes across as achingly beautiful in its immediacy, the basic ingredients for the succesful recipe for Ancora are on the table. I don’t think there are any major surprises, stylewise, in store for Flook fans but the band is in mighty shape in 2019 and the performances here are among their very best, at least in my ears. The jazzy element is perhaps just a wee bit less to the fore this time; instead, Flook seems to play… Flook. All the years the band has been together have distilled their music into something very much their own, a unique combination of Celtic roots, individual inputs from everyone involved and the band’s inner chemistry and communication.
It’s hard to name any favorites on Ancora. The power of Rubik is huge and the beauty of Companion Star almost heartbreaking but I also love the happy “running”, quicksilver groove of the Turquoise Girl set, the movie score feeling of Ellie Goes West… Well, all of it, really.
Flook, Ancora. If you love music and have a set of functioning ears, get it and go listen. Now. It doesn’t get much better than this., ever.