Salm, vol. 1

COMPOSERS: Gaelic Psalms
LABELS: Ridge
PERFORMER: Hebridean Choir
CATALOGUE NO: RR 024

Advertisement

The Gaelic psalms of Salm are momentous indeed. The singing is call-and-response, led by a precentor and followed by the congregation in modal, mainly pentatonic melodies.

They were recorded in Back Free Church, Lewis, by a dozen precentors, taking a psalm each, and a big gathering of enthusiasts for the genre, who certainly gave their all: the responses in free rhythm swoop, soar and slide in massive overlaps. It’s all slow and strong, with variety reserved for the precentors’ voices and their elaborate ornamentation.

Advertisement

You can hear a kinship with some African church music but what it recalls most in its energy, solemnity and communal devotion is the pre-match singing of a Scottish football crowd. Fans of stadium atmosphere might go for this in a big way.