THE latest release from all-conquering Breabach, Frenzy of the Meeting, sees the band return somewhat to their Scottish roots, given the worldly nature of previous release Astar.

While the excellent Astar drew heavily upon rhythms and styles uncovered by the five-piece on their frequent travels, Frenzy of the Meeting appears at first glance to be a more home-based affair. However, delve further in and you’ll be rewarded with an album that is as outward looking and contemporary as it is rooted in the traditional.

The sounds are bigger, too. Breabach – Ewan Robertson, Megan Henderson, James Lindsay, Calum MacCrimmon and James Duncan Mackenzie – while still capturing the live energy of their performance, have added subtle elements that help create wider soundscapes than previously.

“We wanted to keep some of the ideas and influences from Astar, especially in terms of the sonic production where we started experimenting a little bit more,” says Robertson, vocalist and guitarist. “We were keen to keep that feel so it didn’t feel like a total departure.

“Both Astar and Frenzy of the Meeting were recorded as a band,” adds Robertson. “People sometimes had to fix little bits here and there but what you hear on the album is us all playing together. Then after that process was completed we looked at adding little flavours. So we added some moog, we added some electric guitar but it was just touches and effects that we played around with.

“It’s really important that when we play live the core of everything you hear on the cd can be recreated which is why we don’t have any issues ourselves experimenting sonically as in the worst case scenario we know we could unplug and still play.”

The result is an album that successfully conveys the magic of a live Breabach gig – the harmony between the musicians and the musicianship itself. But it also tackles some of the pressing issues of the day, such as migration and the ubiquitousness of technology. It is an impressive piece of work and one that lingers in the memory long after the music has stopped.

And while Astar wore its global outlook on its sleeve, Frenzy of the Meeting is less obviously international. Yet the experience of long years travelling is writ large across it but always with an optimism that belies the current state of the world.

“The big thing [with travel] is breaking down stereotypes,” says Robertson. “When you watch the news and see, for example, the Middle East and all the problems there and then you go to these places it changes your perception.

“We were in Jordan recently and you’re walking around and you see someone going for a coffee, or someone going for their vegetables and you realise that there’s far more that unites us than divides us.

“It’s a real privilege to get to travel.”

Home, though, remains Scotland for Breabach and specifically Glasgow. Despite their highland roots the band now all live within five minutes of each other in the city and Robertson believes there are few better places to be for a musician.

“I suppose we’re a Glasgow band now,” says Robertson. “We’re all very rooted in the Glasgow scene and we love the city. It’s an amazing place for making music.

“There are so many good bands and so much fusion – with the jazz scene, the folk scene, the indie scene. And of course there are the sessions…”

A big part of what makes Glasgow such a centre at the moment are the courses available in traditional music (and other genres) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Its impact on the music scene in the city has been unmistakable.

Robertson, who is originally from Grantown on Spey, admits to being drawn to the city for that very reason, even though he wasn’t intent on studying music.

“I wanted to come down to Glasgow because I knew Glasgow had the music courses and had

this great reputation for music.

So people like me were drawn to the city because it had such a vibrant scene.”

Despite his love of being at home in Glasgow, or spending time in Glenfinnan where he runs a kayaking business, for Robertson, life on the road with Breabach is likely to remain the reality for some time to come. Happily, it is something the band continue

to enjoy.

“I really enjoy the travel. And the rest of the band do, too,” says Robertson. “We’re all really laid back and we enjoy the experience so it’s a great group of people to travel with.”

As for the future, it certainly remains bright for the band.

Breabach are one of artists shortlisted for the Belhaven Bursary for Innovation, a potentially career-changing award that brings with it not only the chance to have a beer named after you but, more importantly, a £25,000 cash prize.

“The Trad Awards are amazing anyway in helping raise the profile of traditional music but this can be a real game-changer,” says Robertson.

Either way, with Frenzy of the Meeting, Breabach have once again cemented their place at the forefront of Scottish traditional music with an album that is beautiful, exciting and filled with some much-needed optimism.