Talisk has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue since the overwhelming success of their first album, Abyss (2016), garnering them accolades left, right and centre – Folk Band of the Year at the BBC Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award, and the Belhaven Bursary for Innovation, to name but three. Of course, after this success, the pandemic reared its head and, like many touring musicians, Talisk went quiet for some time. Fortunately, they kept themselves busy, and DAWN – the result – found them teaming up once again with Andrea Gobbi at GloWorm. His expert production skills are tangible throughout, and the immediate sensation is one of incredible freshness, buoyed up by the unstoppable, bounding rhythm that power’s the album’s 44 minutes.
Talisk, made up of Mohsen Amini on concertina, Benedict Morris on Fiddle and Graeme Armstrong on Guitar, bring a tremendous amount of energy to their performances. With great intricacy and control, they are able to bring us to highs with the toe-stomping ‘Aura’, and then right back down to moments of introspection on tracks such as ‘The Light Of Day’, which also showcases the delicate qualities of Armstrong’s guitars perfectly. ‘Lava’ even comes with its own sing-along hook, which feels like quite a gamble given the nature of this ensemble, although Talisk pulls it off expertly, getting the listener to imagine themselves front row at one of their gigs, swaying their arms and poised to launch into a frenzied jig in the pit.
And they don’t stop there. Entering the second half of the album (after a needed breather in the form of ‘Interlude’), Talisk kicks it up another gear with ‘Beast’ and ‘Dystopia’, parts one and two. Here the band really push their own boundaries, reaching deeper bursts of energy and sonic brilliance to create an all-encompassing environment for the listener. Amini even jumps on the synthesiser, bringing a bigger sound into the equation. It’s tasteful but no less vigorous. At one point you may even hear a ‘bass drop’, of all things, if you’ll believe it.
Talisk has not held back here, and neither would we have wanted them to. They have created their own universe to play in, channeling imagery of otherworldly and sci-fi-inspired lands in their titling and art. They have brought us something new and enticing, and with great efficacy. The technical chops, rapidity and tunefulness remain mainstays for Talisk, and Amini seems to have reached virtuoso levels. Grab good headphones and some strong tea; this one takes you by the scruff of your shirt and marches you off on a journey.
Order ‘DAWN’ by Talisk from talisk.bandcamp.com