“Between & Beyond Storms” – Keltrix

3 stars (out of 5)

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Keltrix Title“Between & Beyond Storms” is the second album from Cambridge-based duo Keltrix, who are Keri Kel (singer, songwriter and guitarist) and Sharon Sullivan (violinist and producer) and it’s a bit of an interesting one. There’s a combination of folk and Celtic roots with elements of rock, reggae, trip-hop and harder-edged dance beats. The Keltrix mission seems to be to create something new by fusing all of these elements into a new genre. It’s not just a double album, there’s a major tour and a documentary film to follow; there’s a lot of creativity and plain hard graft going into this. So, does it work?

As always, this is purely a personal opinion; feel free to tell me if you think I’m wrong, but I’m not convinced. For me, the strongest tracks are on the “Beyond Storms”. The reworking of “Alibi” as “My Alibi” works and, in the middle of the set, “Displacement” and the remix of “Endure” both have an ambient, trip-hoppy feel and lots of space, allowing the songs plenty of room to breathe. These three songs, particularly “Displacement”, would stand up alongside anything else I’ve heard this year.

And that’s the upside, but there is a downside. There are a few things that don’t work at all for me and they’re connected with the individualism the band is trying to create. Keri Kel’s singing mashes up folk intonations and inflexions with elements of Kate Bush and Lene Lovich (maybe even Marianne Faithfull from the seventies onwards) and sometimes becomes a distraction, pulling the attention and focus away from the song. There’s also a bit of a kitchen sink mentality; there are loads of ideas bouncing around and it seems to be important to try to cram all of them in, so we get songs with lots of tempo changes and lyrics which sound rushed to try and fit in with the melody.

Keltrix mixes up a huge variety of styles and getting the blend right isn’t something that happens overnight. If you look at this album as part of the journey, rather than the ultimate destination, then it makes a lot more sense.

“Between & Beyond Storms” is out now.