Welcome to Dun Vegas

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Welcome To Dun Vegas
WelcomeToDunVegas.jpg
Studio album by Peatbog Faeries
Released 24 April 2003
Recorded Late 2002–Early 2003
Studio Pool Roag, Dunvegan, Scotland
Genre
Length 53:29
Label Peatbog Records
Producer
  • Calum MacLean
  • Iain Copeland
Peatbog Faeries chronology
Faerie Stories
(2001)
Welcome To Dun Vegas
(2003)
Croftwork
(2005)

Welcome To Dun Vegas is the third album by Scottish Celtic fusion group Peatbog Faeries, recorded in a cottage on the banks of Pool Roag, near Dunvegan, on the Isle of Skye, and released in 2003 on the band's own Peatbog Records label as the label's first release. The album was seen as an experimental work, like their previous album Faerie Stories although in a very different style. The album was composed and created by Peter Morrison (pipes, whistles), Innes Hutton (bass guitar), Thomas Salter (electric and acoustic guitars), Leighton Jones (keyboards), Roddy Neilson (fiddle) and Iain Copeland (percussion). Copeland also co-produced the album with Calum MacLean.

The album features a new direction for the band, differing from their progressive-tinged début album Mellowosity (1996) and the subsequent electronica-tinged Faerie Stories (2001). The album features a wide range of influences, such as alternative rock and African music, as well as experimental effects including backwards drumming and a track based around a kitchen cooker timer. It also marked the first time the band used vocals, and whilst only a small amount is featured, five tracks include vocals, including guest contributions from vocal group The Veganites on the album's last two tracks. Some of the tracks from the album are about fictional historical stories. The album was released in April 2003 to positive reviews from critic, and the accompanying live tour also featured positive reviews. The track "Wacko King Hako" was often played live at the band's 2008 live shows, and was also included in the 2013 compilation album Larry Kirwan's Celtic Invasion.[1] One description described the album as "hard hitting Scottish fusion like you have never heard before."[2]

Background and recording[edit]

The album was recorded near and named after Dunvegan (pictured).

With their second album, Faerie Stories (2001), Peatbog Faeries transitioned from their original progressive rock-tinged Celtic fusion and recorded an album without rock instrumentation and instead a strong focus on electronica, house and dub influences mixed in with their Celtic instrumentalism. The album was recorded in 1999 but was not released in 2001 due to record label difficulties which lead it to be released on both Greentrax Recordings, who released their first album Mellowosity (1996), and New York-based Astor Recordings. These problems lead to the band creating their own record label, Peatbog Records, and set for recording in a cottage on the banks of Pool Roag near Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland. The band installed a studio in the cottage and recorded the album over three months. The band described that after installing the cottage, that they "had a party" for three months, "occasionally recording as [they] went".[3]

The band had sought a new direction for the new album. Just as the electronic sound of Faerie Stories was unexpected after Mellowosity, the new album would present a similarly unexpected sound that differed from both of the band's previous sound. Although returning more to live instruments, the band experimented a lot, incorporating vocal effects, "found sounds" and reversal techniques, leading to arguably the band's most eclectic album to date.[4]

Music[edit]

"Welcome to Dun Vegas is a mosaic of pipe and fiddle tunes, earthy dance rhythms, keyboard effects, dodgy vocals and various unidentified noises. Sometimes the foreground is filled with tunes from the Irish and Scottish traditions, sometimes with modern melodies, and occasionally with Gaelic singing. The rest of the time, anything goes. Stepping back from "Wacko King Hako", "Phat Controller" and "Ironing Maiden", the big picture is of a good-time band with enormous creativity."

 —Alex Mongahan of Folk World[5]

Welcome to Dun Vegas is the band's first album to feature vocals, although only a small amount is featured, and generally for effect. Vocals appear on five tracks, including two appearances from local vocal group The Veganites on the final two tracks "Skeabost Monsoon" and "A Taste of Rum". Peatbog Faeries would later do a track with the name "Veganites" for the band's following album Croftwork (2005), an album which also features a thank you message to The Veganites in its liner notes. Dun Vegas also has African music influences,[6] a genre they would explore further with "Room 215" from Dust (2011).[7] The title track was recorded in a "whisky haze" at 4am after a session in the Dunvegan hotel.[8] After producer Calum McLean noticed a cooker clock producing an interesting rhythm, he recorded it, tampered with it and asked the band to come up with a tune, thus creating the track.[9] "Phat Controller" was written after guitarist Tom Salter came up with the idea of the track after thinking he had completed his work on the album.[10] "Shifting Peat & Feet" features backwards drumming from the band's percussionist Iain Copeland.[11] "Morning Dew" has been described as "a powerful Irish reel over a slow tango beat, with general weird background effects."[12] "Teuchstar" features "crisp and percussive" pipe playing from Morrison, whilst Nielson's fiddle matches the pipe playing note for note.[13] Contrasting with the "crisp and percussive" pipe playing of "Teuchstar", the pipe playing on "Shifting Peat & Feet" is "light and lyrical".[14]

Some of the tracks are based on fictional stories. The opening track "Wacko King Hako", for example, is about the Viking ruler who in 1263 lost a battle to the Scots at Largs,and when returning to Shetland, he and his fleet of long ships stopped in Pool Roag in front of where the band's studio was and "probably had one last raid on the community."[15] "Fear Eile" is described as an island rowing song and is given an uptempo arrangement, this song being the first song on the album with vocals, performed by Roddy Neilson and bassist Innes Hutton.[16] The liner notes state the song tells "of the island man's passion for rowing off to neighbouring islands to collect fresh women", joking that "the building of the Skye Bridge much to do with the demise of this tradition."[17] The name of the track "Gibbering Smit" refers to the band's lighting engineer who "kissed the Blarney Stone three times".[18]

Release and reception[edit]

The album was released on 24 April 2003 by Peatbog Faeries' own label Peatbog Records as the first release on the label. The album title is a play on the words Dunvegan with Las Vegas. The liner notes contain the Aiden McEoin quote "I can't be at one, for what's done is done"[19] which feature in the lyrics of "Teuchstar".[20] The opening page of the booklet gives the album an alternative name, More Faerie Stories.[21]

The album has been well received. Jane Brace of Living Tradition was favourable to the album, saying it "fuses their own brand of Hebridean music magic with the sounds of Africa - and is the first Peatbog album to feature vocal tracks, albeit in an inimitable way! The Faeries openly admit the album was recorded during a whiskey-enhanced protracted stay in a Skye cottage near Dunvegan. They set up a recording studio there for three months and Welcome to Dun Vegas − a play on Dunvegan − is the stimulating result".[22] Tafetta Punk of Roots Review was favourable, saying: "Personally I adore this album. It reeks openly of that fun and even smacks of a little whiskey (shh!). A good time was apparently had by all in this recording, and it comes highly recommended by me. It's fabulous."[23] The Scotsman said the album marked "an increasingly adventurous melting pot of fragmented fiddle and pipe tunes... Deep dub bass lines and all round spacey electronica comprehensively rocked the house."[24] Alex Mongahan of Folk World said that "if you have a taste for the unusual, especially when it has bagpipes in it, you'll probably be hooked," and said that "technically, the production on this album is spot on and the musicianship is excellent."[25]

In addition to touring the album throughout 2003 on the band's regular folk festival routine, the band also performed a low-key performance at Glastonbury Festival, prompting one NME journalist to note "I wanted to check out R.E.M. but sorry guys, it's your misfortune to be on at the same time as The Peatbog Faeries, the highlight of Glastonbury. Mere earth words can't do the Faeries justice...".[26] On the band's live album, Live (2009), which was compiled from two of the band's 2008 concerts, "Wacko King Hako" appeares as the fifth track. The studio version of the song was also included on the 2013 various artist compilation album Larry Kirwan's Celtic Invasion.[27] "Teuchstar" features on the 2006 various artist compilation album Beginner's Guide to Scotland.[28]

Track listing[edit]

  1. Wacko King Hako (5:52)
  2. Fear Eile (4:32)
  3. Phat Controller / The Red Bee (4:53)
  4. Ironing Maiden (4:22)
  5. Welcome To Dun Vegas (5:34)
  6. Shifting Peat and Feet (3:55)
  7. Gibbering Smit (4:34)
  8. Morning Dew (5:47)
  9. Teuchstar (5:11)
  10. Skeabost Monsoon (4:13)
  11. A Taste Of Rum (4:31)

Credits[edit]

  • Peter Morrison (pipes, whistles)
  • Innes Hutton (bass guitar)
  • Thomas Salter (electric and acoustic guitars)
  • Leighton Jones (keyboards)
  • Roddy Neilson (fiddle)
  • Iain Copeland (percussion, co-producer)
  • Calum MacLean (co-producer)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]