The Trials of Cato
Live / Hide and Hair LP
The Trials of Cato picked up their instruments on the corner of Market and Sidney, bathed in unseasonable sunshine in the heart of Cambridge. Two minutes later, the crowd had filled the pavement and spilled across the road, slowing traffic on Sidney Street to a crawl.
This perfect folk band are all about combinations. They play traditional folk songs and new original material. They have instrumentals and they sing. They sing in English and Welsh. They play at festivals and they play on the corner of the street.
As they humbly offered us their music today, it ensnared everyone within earshot. It was delightfully skillful, varied, and memorable; true enough to their folk roots, but also fresh and invigorating.
When it comes to their record, ‘Hide and Hair’, it translates the experience well with a superbly crisp and clean recording of the songs that were so captivating live. The instrumental tracks, like ‘Kadisha’ and ‘Libanus’, are complex and sparkly. There are songs are about love, drinking, and loss – other stuff too, though I’ll have to translate it to find out the meaning behind the hypnotic harmonies.
All of those aforementioned combinations come out on the record, but after it has looped around for the third time something else strikes me; what is really good about this album is how coherent it is depite all those differences. This trio are able to blend a record that contains traditional folk songs, monastic drinking chants, and modern bilingual folk.
It’s hard to pick one song as a stand out track as no single song can fully represent this band, however ‘Haf’ steals a special place in my musical heart.
‘Hide and Hair’ is an excellent record, but see them in the flesh if you can, because they are mesmerising when they perform.
Written by Fenton on