Four become instrumental to a unique folky fusion
World-inspired instrumental outfit Kan, may have a short name but it boast a roll call of four of the most influential award-winning artists in the contemporary cross-genre music world. Together they have been thrilling audiences across the UK over the past couple of years, and return to Devon next weekend for a show at Great Torrington.
In their feast of original compositions, the bold and beautiful flute and whistle virtuosity of Flook's Brian Finnegan melds beautifully with the expressive and daring fiddle deftness of Aidan O'Rourke, best known for his groundbreaking work with Lau. Cementing these top notes together is the organic, intuitive drumming of Jim Goodwin and the unfettered, playful reinventions of guitarist Ian Stephenson.
Between them they've recorded and performed with the likes of Kate Rusby, Cara Dillon, BBC Philharmonic, Blazin' Fiddles, Liverpool Philharmonic, Kathryn Tickell, Northern Sinfonia, Wayne Shorter, Adem, Eddi Reader, Justin Currie, Roddy Woomble, Baltic Crossing, Adem, Sting, OMD, Jack Bruce, Bella Hardy, Nitin Sawhney, Katherine Jenkins, Jan Garbareck, Karine Polwart and Trilok Gurtu, among others.
Their debut LP, Sleeper, is a fulsome, energetic, but easy-listening collection that offers a sweet and moreish soundtrack for daily living. The band regularly communicates with fans on Twitter social networking; a woman recently sent a message saying she was listening to the album whole doing her ironing.
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"I'm not sure we'd like to be called ironing music," laughs Ian. "But people say they put it on in the car and it just floats across them. Listening back to the album now, it does sound soft and relaxed."
The Kan live experience is rather more challenging and fiery. All four musicians line up in an arc at the front of the stage, giving equal weight to each crucial element of the mix.
They all contribute to the writing process and the tracks started life in the live arena, two years before they were recorded. The quartet got together to play live shows in 2010 – the year of Kan in the Mayan calendar and declared to be to be a time for new beginnings.
"It was so exciting when Brian asked me to join. I had played the odd gig with him and I was a big fan," says Ian, who admits to being a little in awe of the colleagues he had watched performing since he was a teenage wannabe going to folk festivals.
"There are probably dozens upon dozens of grown men who grew up listening to Flook and Lau, harbouring dreams of being in a band with Brian or Aidan one day. Well that's me now. I'm chuffed to bits."
Kan play at the Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington on Saturday, November 24. Box office: 01805 624624.