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by Andrew Cronshaw

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    CD in all-card digipack including 14-page booklet

    Includes unlimited streaming of Zithers via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Full Digital Discography

    Get all 6 Andrew Cronshaw releases available on Bandcamp and save 25%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Zithers, SANS - Kulku, SANS Live, The Unbroken Surface of Snow, Ochre, and On the Shoulders of the Great Bear. , and , .

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Sea-ice 06:15


Zithers… no, not The Third Man.

British multi-instrumentalist Andrew Cronshaw has been playing zither and making albums since the early 1970s. He’s never been exactly part of the mainstream, but his work, strongly based on traditional musics, has gained universally excellent reviews, award nominations and what might be called a niche following. This is his twelfth album – there have been nine solo albums before it, and two with his band SANS whose 2018 album Kulku reached the numbers one and two positions in the two world-music charts, and was awarded an Emma (Finnish Grammy) – but this is the first he’s ever done entirely solo, and it features just two instruments.

Andrew writes:
“The word ‘zither’ to some people means what Anton Karas played for the film The Third Man. That was a so-called ‘concert zither’, a fretted zither relative of Hungarian citera, Norwegian langeleik, Appalachian dulcimer et al. But actually there are a huge number of instruments in the zither family, some fretted but most not. Broadly speaking, a zither can be taken to be an instrument with one or more plucked, struck or bowed strings stretched across a sound board or other resonator, but without a neck.
On this album I’d envisaged probably playing various string and wind instruments, but as it turns out it’s all on just two, both of them unfretted forms of zither.
Ten of the tracks are on a 74-string fretless zither, named “The Piano-Chord”, made in Germany, probably in about the 1930s, that I bought in Edinburgh in the late 1960s, and electrified with a pickup made for it by Phil Taylor.
The other three tracks are on a more recent creation, the marovantele, which has 11 pairs of strings on each side and was made for me by Finnish luthier Kimmo Sarja from a sketched idea I had, inspired by the Madagascan double-sided marovany box zither, for a double-sided development of the Finnish kantele (yet another of the zither family). (I’ve been involved in various ways with Finnish music since 1990, and I toured worldwide in the 1990s as sound engineer with Madagascan band Tarika, who used the range of Malagasy instruments including marovany).”

So those are the tools, but it’s the music that’s the thing. These are melodies that have history, reflect people’s lives; they have stories, and Andrew writes about them in the liner notes which are an essential part of the album. Produced by Jim Sutherland, it was recorded in Scotland, Andrew’s first chosen home, and the material for seven of the thirteen tracks comes from Scottish and Scots Gaelic traditions. His life and music have also been strongly influenced by Finno-Ugrian, Iberian and English traditions, among others, and they’re reflected too. As he says “Nowadays in the course of our lives we’re affected by a wide range of music, so each of us carries a sort of personal tradition”.

(The booklet notes for individual tracks are on the Bandcamp page for each track)

Contact: Cloud Valley Music www.cloudvalley.com facebook.com/AndrewCronshawMusic
More info at www.andrewcronshaw.com

"Zithers" spent three months of 2020 in the top 10 of World Music Chart Europe.

“The music is beautiful… Cronshaw’s arrangements and performance at once get to the bones and sinew of a tune, while at the same time raising them up via the delicacy and clarity of his playing. Meditative, expansive, quietly authoritative, Zithers is a quiet gem.”
– Tim Cumming, Songlines

“The album, so typical of Cronshaw’s work, is impeccably constructed. It carries the listener along, and that makes the track sequencing particularly important. You need to set the time aside to experience the entire disc in a long, deep listen to appreciate it properly. That said, there are some points of particular beauty that rise throughout. The opener, ‘The Year That’s Awa’,’for instance, sets the tone with its crystalline tone, like drops of water falling into a clear pool, the ripples slowly spreading.

"There’s quite a bit of Celtic music here, tunes that are close to his soul, the melodies often heartbreaking, and a few Finnish pieces – his other great love - plus a touch of Iberia. But it’s when Cronshaw steps outside those that things become very curious.

"‘Variations On ‘Lucy Wan’’ takes steps into jagged darkness. The traditional song deals with incest and death, nothing bright and breezy in there, and by charting paths around the melody, Cronshaw is able to walk deep into the shadows and dissonance. After the spare elegance of what’s come before, it’s quite disconcerting. Yet it’s nothing new for Cronshaw; he’s taken an outside look at English folk songs before – including ‘Lucy Wan’ - on his wonderful Ochre disc. But this takes the tune to places he’d never wandered with it before.

"The big track, though, is ‘Sea-Ice.’ It’s an original soundscape that conjures up the title, creaking, sometimes blasted, often caught in a hard winter stillness thanks to the magic of effects. It’s perhaps as far from traditional music as it’s possible to travel, and yet it all fits seamlessly as part of this, before the album closes with the open arms of 'Anthem (‘Grant Me Kind Heaven’).’

"There’s a very blurred line that separates performance from art. But Cronshaw’s music has always been on the art side. It’s made for its own sake, because it’s there inside, not as any commercial product. That’s true of plenty of people, of course. But he’s always pushed himself, looked for something new that fits and makes sense in the context of his passions and his playing. Perhaps his experience as one member of a band has caused him to re-assess the way he approaches music, but this is more considered than much of his previous work. Notes hang, suspended, and it becomes an album that’s often breathless in its loveliness.

"Oh, and do read the sleeve notes; they an important part of the whole, offer both background and context for the work. But whatever you do, make room for this. In times like this, it will soothe your soul.”

– Chris Nickson, Rootsworld


released March 11, 2020

Andrew Cronshaw: 74-string fretless zither, 44-string marovantele
Produced and engineered by Jim Sutherland at Somotherland
Mastered by Stuart Hamilton at Castle Sound
Design by Bryan Ledgard and Andrew Cronshaw
Photos by Andrew Cronshaw (nice ducks), Jim Sutherland (AC + zither), Alex Gaspar (AC + marovantele)


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Andrew Cronshaw London, UK

Andrew Cronshaw is a British multi-instrumentalist and producer, soloist and also leader of the Finnish/Armenian/British band SANS, who also has a long career as a writer on roots musics, particularly those of the Nordic, Baltic, eastern and central European and Iberian regions, for fRoots, The Rough Guide to World Music etc. ... more

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