The Sound Cafe
Niteworks Set to Release An Electrifying Mix On Cinematic New Album 'A’ Ghrian'
A’ Ghrian is the dramatic new album from folk-electronica powerhouse Niteworks. The record, set to be released on Friday 14 January, features an electrifying mix of Gaelic, Scots and English folk songs infused with cinematic electronica.
The four-piece band are at the forefront of the new wave of trad music and released two previous albums to critical acclaim, the latter of which was longlisted for Scottish Album of the Year. They expertly blur the lines between Scottish traditional, folk and Gaelic music with cutting-edge electronica, creating a unique and exhilarating sound that has seen them rightfully earn a reputation for unapologetic innovation.
A’ Ghrian [Ah Ghree-un], meaning ‘the sun’ marks a new dawn for Niteworks as they incorporate English folk and Scots songs into their repertoire for the first time, alongside Gaelic tracks.
This is something that’s at the heart of their vision, as drummer Ruairidh Graham explains: “There is so much value to be found in Scotland’s minority languages and cultures that deserve to be presented to mainstream audiences in ways that’s accessible to them. This means the music and culture that goes along with it can be celebrated not just by those who use it, but by a much wider audience that want to enjoy it too.”
The band, comprising Innes Strachan (synth/keys), Allan MacDonald (pipes), Christopher Nicolson (bass) and Ruairidh Graham (drums), grew up together on the Isle of Skye, giving them an appreciation for Gaelic culture and music. Their traditional roots, paired with their experiences discovering club culture and electronic music in Glasgow, helped them create their signature folksy electronic sound.
As you might expect, there is an abundance of vocal talent to be found on the new album including stunning guest vocals from long-time collaborators Sian (Eilidh Cormack, Ceitlin Lilidh and Ellen MacDonald) including a solo vocal from Ellen. The inimitable tones of celebrated Scottish singers Kathleen MacInnes, Beth Malcolm, Hannah Rarity and Alasdair Whyte also feature.
Ruairidh Graham continued: “With this album we’ve sought to create a more expansive sound that’s cinematic in its nature. We were partly inspired by our work writing the music for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Fare Well film that reflected on what 2020 had been like for many during the pandemic. The nature of the project required broad expansive sounds, and that led to us going further in that direction through the writing and recording of the album.
“Our upcoming orchestral concert for Celtic Connections further reinforced our desire to keep down that path. A lot of the material from this album will lend itself well to that show and with the backing of a full orchestra it’s going to be really powerful - we still can’t quite believe it’s happening!”
The album, which was funded by Creative Scotland and recorded in autumn 2021 with Andrea Gobbi at GloWormRecording in Glasgow, also features Fiona MacAskill, Aileen Reid and Laura Wilkie of Kinnaris Quintet alongside Susan Appelbe on strings.
The first single from this album, released on Friday 26 November, is Gura mise tha fo Èislein. The powerful Gaelic track gradually builds in momentum, complemented by Ellen MacDonald’s soft and soulful vocals and sets out the band’s stall for the record to come.
Other standout tracks include Each-Uisge, a dramatic intro to the cinematic record, which masterfully combines synths with traditional instruments to create a bold sound. Meanwhile, John Riley is an ethereal song which features Beth Malcolm’s incredible vocals as she weaves a folk tale throughout the track. A' Ghrian is the perfect track to finish off the album, with a slower and more reflective sound that has Kathleen Macinnes’ raw and emotive vocals at the centre.
Elsewhere, the striking sound of Thèid mi lem Dheòin Feat. Alasdair Whyte is bolstered by an all-star backing choir of Pedro Cameron (Man of the Minch), Deirdre Graham, Donald Macdonald (The Islands), Seonaidh MacIntyre (Trail West), Robert Robertson (Tide Lines) and Sian.
A’ Ghrian will be available to buy on CD and stream and download on all digital platforms, on Friday 14 January.
The band will tour the album with live dates scheduled from December 2021 until the end of 2022, including a sell-out return to Celtic Connections in January, where they will join forces with composer John Logan and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra to showcase exclusive orchestral versions of their genre-bending back catalogue.