David Grubb

Review: Alex Monaghan

A fascinating CD, and a remarkable debut from a young Scottish violinist and fiddler, High Rise is sometimes experimental, sometimes sentimental, and sometimes just plain mental. Around a core of traditional music, but with more than a touch of classical polish, Grubb has written all eight tracks. He did have help with the arranging from pianist Corben Lee and guitarist Daniel Whitting, which is just as well given the complexity of some pieces. Ten musicians, well over a dozen instruments, technomancy and trance-like vocals produce everything from soft rock to hard classical, with a folky thread which weaves and wanders. The quality of the compositions is mixed: some good pieces, and some startlingly excellent pieces. The recording and production is close to perfect, and the performance is equally impressive. Comparable to albums by Chris Stout, Oliver Schroer or Mike Vass, High Rise is likely to be in my 2015 Top Ten. 

The plainsong intro to Sleeping Giant is soon joined by David's sweet string tone on a repetitive ground which adds galloping guitar and drums, and almost repeats too much. Then a complex new melody starts, martial music, somewhere between Ravel and Radetsky, cross-fading to a street scene, a piano bar perhaps. Coffee House continues the story, later in the evening, jazz fiddle with cutlery and clinking glasses in the background, mixing gypsy and folk rock. Glascade winds down the mood, ends the evening, turns out the lights. The clever Climb recalls for me the chore of carting gear up many flights of stone steps, agan and again, before the exuberance of 86th Floor Jig - some fine flute, and if ever a tune called for trumpet, this does. Two very similar melodies follow, the dreamily joyous Milestone and the simply beautiful Arc. Grubb ends this wide-ranging recording with a pair of monster tracks - nearly half the album in fact - which sweep across European and American folk styles, classical and experimental music, creating snapshots and cameos from Skye to Salzburg, Nashville to Naples. The Scottish influence is detectable most of the time, but like the listeners it can easily become lost in the mutiple levels and rooms of High Rise. No samples on the website currently, but you can find this on iTunes and Spotify.

Alex Monaghan

Posted on 2015-09-30 23:30:43


David is a Scottish Violinist and graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He works as a freelance musician in a variety of genres.

Find me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube



Get in contact with me or request a CV using the form on the right. Alternatively, download a Press Pack below.