say nice things about us, and when they do we like to show off
about it. So here are a few of our favourite reviews.
(U.S.) - December'00/January'01
Xim is a quartet from Norwich (U.K.) who has been playing original material in a pan-European folk style since its formation in 1998. The material on this release is based on themes from the dance music of Central France, an influence which clearly comes through in the writing and playing. There are 11 tracks of mazurkas, schottisches, bourrées and stirring waltzes like the curiously titled "The Clint Eastwood Waltz." Tracks such as "Sweetbriar / The Whiffler". have a contemporary groove set by the bass and then confirmed by a melodeon solo. Xim's success in achieving a French traditional sound is enhanced by the instrumental line-up which includes hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, melodeons and flutes (along with some bass and percussion). In their choice of inspiration and their delivery, Xim is one British band that is taking the idea of Europianization quite seriously, indeed. (IE)
- FRoots Issue No 209 November 2000
Xim are a Norwich quartet (melodeon, hurdy gurdy, bagpipes, flute and assorted exotic percussion) composing their own music in the styles of central France and doing it rather well (and none too slavishly), I thought.
Alongside the more customary ingredients, piper Paddy Shaw overdubs sparing bass guitar lines that are very effective in rounding the music out- They have a good instinct for building a number up from a quiet beginning to pounding reiteration and they take a few of the tunes off in the direction of Paris as well as throwing in their own diverse influences. Gas Hill is a particularly insidious creation, beginning with "typically French" squeezebox overlaid by a flute line that's something else again and passing through some tension-stoking interlude sections before emerging melodically on the far side. Additional house points for the attention paid to the liner design and for entitling a tune The Clint Eastwood Waltz.
- Living Tradition, Issue 40 Sept/Oct 2000
This is an album called '989', by a group called XIM (in case you thought it was an album called 'XIM' by a group called 989). Like the product in the TV ad, the CD is 'tasty, tasty, very very tasty '. The members are Nick Carpenter, Kate Ross, Paddy Shaw and Frank Vickers; it's a recent recording, done in Spring this year in Norwich, and features melodeons, darabuka, flutes, bass, djembe, bagpipes, hurdy gurdy, bodhran and tambourine. The standard is consistently good, lovely in bits, and the tunes are all penned by the group working in different combinations (with Shaw just having the edge in prolific terms), and have great titles like '2CV', 'The Whiffler', and 'The Clint Eastwood Waltz'. This is precisely my cup of tea - a gem well worth a listen.
- Chanter (The Bagpipe Society), Autumn 2000
XIM is a four piece outfit from East Anglia comprising of Nick Carpenter (Melodeons/Darabuka/Tambourine), Kate Ross (Flutes/Bass/Djembe), Frank Vickers (Hurdy Gurdy/Bodhrán) and Paddy Shaw (Bagpipes/Bass), he of the Massif Village Orchestra project.
So here's a CD of the same sort of big noise French dance music that Paddy is famous for, right? Wrong. What we have here is a much quieter, more thoughtful offering. Kate's flute gives a wistful quality not often associated with groups containing the bagpipe/hurdy gurdy combination. Whilst almost always in evidence, neither the pipes nor the hurdy gurdy overshadow the other instruments. Nick's melodeon skips from driving in the foreground to an underpinning role which, along with some tasteful bass playing and minimalist percussion provides the basic platform. The twenty-one tunes, all original compositions by the band, are presented over 11 tracks with a great deal of thought and expertise. The result is a body of work that feels as though it's touching Ireland, Scotland, France and the Low Countries but is very, unmistakably, English. The breadth of the album shows that here is a band trying out new ideas and mixing styles from all quarters. From 'Sweetbriar', which sounds a little naïve, as though it could be from a 1950's light entertainment short film, to 'Gas Hill', with it's modern Penguin Café Orchestra feel; and from the punchy bourrées 'Smoking' and 'SOS' with its power chords, to 'The Rosary', a schottische with an almost TV test card quality, this is a varied and interesting collection of tunes. The pick of the bunch is 'Trouble Down Below', a delightfully melancholic mazurka. Personally I would like to have seen some more information on the CD insert, some biographical notes and brief notes about the tunes (although the pictures inside do serve to illustrate the titles), but that's a minor quibble. This CD presents an interesting, thought provoking, well played, varied and different selection of music.
- Folk London, July/August 2000
" a cross between an Irish Wolfhound and a Petite Basset Griffon Vendéen".
Take me back home...