Lyn Guy reports on TERRAFOLK at Junction 2, Cambridge on 12 October with James Spankie in support.

Pre-publicity descriptions of Terrafolk promised folk, jazz, classical, gypsy and heavy metal(!) music. This intriguing array propelled me into buying a ticket some months back. Discovering their support to be the oddly monikered James Spankie - I am even more curious.

Spankie redefines the term ‘one man band'. With a fascinating set of songs he delivers them using a process called ‘looping'. This involves setting up each melody-line or percussive rhythm on the instruments he plays (fiddle, acoustic guitar and keyboards) to repeat via a line of pedals behind his monitor. Finally adding his voice to the mix, Spankie delivers a set of wistfully mournful songs that cross the divide between Teddy Thompson and Rufus Wainwright. This approach can lean towards repetitiveness but watching Mr Spankie at work, he has it down to a fine art, ending on a high with a song so emotive it borders on Coldplayesque.

If I could use just one word to describe Slovenians (with a bass(ic) Antipodean touch) Terrafolk it would be W.O.W! But you'd learn nothing about them. So, launching into "Liverdance" - as inspired by the effects of an Irish night out - the quartet dance forth with a lightness of touch and brightness of humour that characterises their entire show. This is, after all, the final night of an eleven date tour. They are out to have fun.

Despite a below capacity crowd, the musicians' enthusiasm remains undaunted. Wild Gypsy dance music evokes images of a leg kicking Cossack frenzy. Classical accordion leads into "Beauty and the Beast" - then Mystika (acoustic guitar) and Bojan CV (violin) wander the auditorium minstrel style. Joined by a second violinist, they sashay into jazz/folk territory, augmented by Marko trading his accordion for drums. It is here that their guest violinist proves herself to be a rather sensual singer!

But for all this diverse musical mastery, their ‘re-arrangement' of "You Are My Sunshine" into a Death Metal anthem is my moment of joy. Especially when the audience, having been regaled with thundering drums and death grunt vocals, rise to sing with their entertainers.

Not a folk band for traditionalists by any means! However, I'd defy any true music fan to leave a Terrafolk show unmoved.

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Writer: Lyn Guy

Photo: Chris Colb