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David Hyams and the Miles to Go Band - Reviews
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KNOWING THE PLACE ALBUM REVIEWS

What people have said about the Knowing The Place album...

"Australian multi-instrumentalist cooks up successful Celtic/jazz/roots crossover. Hyams' playing is surefooted and dexterous while supple input from the band adds luster. Intelligent, well-crafted, cosmopolitan celtic-styled music. Worth investigating."
FROOTS Magazine (UK) June 2006

Knowing The Place is a musical logbook of journeys, of travels through landscapes both familiar and newly discovered, of times spent with friends and alone, of tales told through melodies woven like recollected memories.

Hyam's instrumentation and composition draw heavily from Celtic tradition and his intricate arrangements are delivered with freshness and originality. He uses this Celtic spirit as a medium through which to experience and reflect on the Australian landscape. Knowing the Place extends the lineage of the musical traditions of Ireland in Australia and further defines their firm and comfortable place in this country's cultural and musical character. The music has been written and performed with great spirit and emotional depth, not to mention impressive skill and dexterity. Hyams has penned all 11 tracks on the CD and is backed not only by the seven piece Miles To Go band but also by an impressive array of special guests including well known Western Australian players such as Cathie Travers, Wency D'sousa and John Bannister. This pool of talented and creative musicians contributes greatly to the breadth and diversity of the music's arrangement and instrumentation.

Hyams' stringed instruments (guitar, mandolin, dobro, bouzouki) are complimented beautifully by wooden flutes and uilian pipes, cello, bass and percussion. Then from beneath a whirling reel emerges a didgeridoo or electric guitar to shift cultural time and space, geography and mood. We traverse wide and varied terrains in a seamless progression of melody and rhythm. It becomes evident from the sleeve notes that Hyams has drawn great inspiration from his travels in Australia and Ireland with many of these compositions inspired by specific places, people and memories. It is this sense of memory and recollection of place that is the thread that binds his work together.

The closing track Back of Beyond drifts hauntingly in a vastness of time and space, a "celebration of that nothingness" experienced in Australia's outback. On Knowing the Place, David Hyams and the Miles to Go Band take us on a refreshingly sincere and engaging musical journey, telling their tales with a distinctive style and natural ease, leaving us with the feeling we have been somewhere that we might not otherwise have been.
indie-cds.com Michael Shrapnel- 2006

One of my favourite pieces of musical merchandise is a tea-towel made to commemorate Shane Howard's album "The River", bearing the phrase "Some Songwriters Never Dry Up". David Hyams is a musician and performer who not only never dries up, but like the river he never seems to stop moving.

"Knowing the Place", his new CD, continues on the journey begun five years ago with his "Miles to Go" album, which launched the career of the eponymous band. Both albums are collections of ambitious, original instrumentals, belonging for the most part to the Celtic dance tune tradition but showing the influences of David's many journeys in the worlds of contemporary and traditional acoustic music. Both albums have a strong sense of inspiration from places and journeys, physical and musical.

The new CD sets its stall out right away. "Flat Out Like Lizard Drinking" starts out with a Sam Bush-esque funk mandolin riff that soon underpins a bubbly set of reels on wooden flute and uilleann pipes. Just as you're getting comfortable with this groove, the space opens out into a rhythmic didge followed by a multipart horn arrangement that would sit comfortably on a La Bottine Souriante album, leading back into a reprise of the opening tune. It's all gloriously unexpected and inventive, and it rocks to boot.

I won't go track-by-track, but suffice it to say that just about every track has the same rich combination of tasty tunes, fresh arrangements and impressive musicality. David's lovely old Gibson mandolin appears beautifully recorded on a number of tracks. "Leaving Jinparinya" has some lyrical dobro as well as mandolin, blending with Ormonde Waters concertina, a mix you certainly don't hear every day, and typifying the varied palette of instrumental colours throughout the album. "Worlds Colliding" is a particular favourite, drawing on the Donal Lunny trick of having a familiar Celtic tune rhythm emerging out of a seemingly unrelated opening riff, in this case a delicate fingerpicked guitar and mandolin figure. David's fingerpicking is a prominent feature of several of the more lyrical tracks, particularly the gorgeous "Song for Indigo" and the closing cut "Back of Beyond" (a title inspired by a geographically challenged American tourist) on which cellist Jennifer Tingley shines.

The musicianship, production and recording quality are outstanding throughout, and special mention should be made of Dougal Adams on wooden flute and Ormonde Waters on concertina, pipes and whistle. These two are as impressive a front line as you'll hear in any Celtic-inspired band in the country.

If you enjoyed "Miles to Go" then you'll certainly be captivated. The overall theme, like the first album, is an exploration of the confluence between traditional Celtic folk and American-influenced New Acoustic styles, and it succeeds in staking out a patch of ground all of its own. The noticeable development in the intervening five years between the two albums is the band is now an established working unit, and that shows in the integrity of the sound.

This is an accomplished, mature and highly enjoyable album from a well-travelled, widely-listened musician and composer whose musical journeys look like taking him onward to some fascinating places.
Steve Barnes Fairbridge Festival Artistic Director

"The power, the passion, the multi-layered arrangements, the superb (and sometimes a bit unusual) use of the instrumentation is joyous. It's very well-played and well-produced. I love it."
Cindy Funk The Dear Green Place - Radio WYSO 91.3 fm Ohio

An excellently recorded, always interesting and very clever blend of diverse instrumental textures, a classy recording of instrumental music."
Graham McDonald Canberra Times June 2006

There's not too many more impressive starts to an instrumental album than this one. The combination of Irish jiggery on Flat Out Like a Lizard Drinking which segues into the very percussive djembe and brass fuelled (courtesy of John Bannister and Nola Formentin) Last Pint At The Cobblestone.

Add didgeridoo, mandolin, flute, bouzouki, cello, uillean pipes and snake like bass and you have a feast for the ears. You're thinking to yourself where can they go from here. Well the answer is all over the world from the South West of WA through to Texas, Melbourne, East Pilbara, Scotland and the west coast of Ireland.

Hyams and his cohorts don't just chuck it all on the heap it's carefully laid out and each track is like its own aural postcard. My favourites are Flight Of The Sea Slug/ East of Cape Arid which is a reflective piece featuring David's very folky strong guitar and mandolin at the start before a change of pace as the other Miles To Go colours are added and Slow Train To Austin which was inspired by a long train journey through Texas and delights the ears with its emotive dobro and later the gutsy electric slide.

Persevere with this one, don't let the celtic reels put you off. There's gold to be found in every track.
GROOVE MAGAZINE Howard Shawcross - Western Australia -

"a real treasure... [The] music is superbly creative, inventive and so professional, truly magnificent"
Gerry Faulkner Ireland Downunder on Sydney's 2 Triple H FM

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