Insert Comma logo
Insert Comma • A Portfolio of Leigh E. Rich
Matt Ender
Categories: Music, Utrinque Paratus

‘Miles of Skye’

By Leigh E. Rich

Matt Ender
Miles of Skye
Etherean Music

Celtic composer Matt Ender brings home more than the Irish in his second album on the Lakewood, Colo.-based label Etherean Music. Three years after his Ancient Isle was dubbed Irish and Scottish “music for the masses,” Ender’s Miles of Skye shines instead in its intimacy and introspection.

While the few traditional songs—read: bagpipes and dreamy voices—are tolerable (hey, who couldn’t help but delight in “False Fly” about a seven-year-old wily enough to morally clobber the devil or the tartan-flying beats of “Miss Monaghans”?), the true emeralds are Ender’s soul-searching and seemingly effortless piano, flute, and violin compositions, heightened with hints of the uilleann pipes and all-out recorder. The bittersweet “Streets of Dublin” is a wistful stroll through the urban center, while “Castle of Kings” flawlessly blends the ancient and the modern in a poignant reminder of the succession of “kings” in our own lives.

“Ballyvolane,” written during Ender’s stay at a B&B of the same name in County Cork, is Skye’s crown jewel, however, with the violin and flute sharing the melody much the same as life holds hands with death. This luminous juxtaposition of order and chaos, accompanied by Ender’s simple piano, reflects all that must be the Ballyvolane House—with its grand piano inside and free-roaming farm animals out.

The title track, one of the few songs with lyrics, glimmers as well, with Celtic vocalist Steve McDonald singing Ender’s and Ron Boustead’s picturesque words: “Your shining hair and raven eyes / Moments I have memorized / Revolving and dissolving into / Miles of skye.” Unfortunately, someone made the bad call to let McDonald breathily speak the last stanza, casting “Miles of Skye” awkward and peculiar.

But with Hollywood score credits such as Extra and All My Children to his name, who would have thought Ender’s minimal fingerwork could make for such soulful ponderings, such “Brilliant regrets / I can’t stop thinking of”? 

Rich, L. E. (2002, February 6). Matt Ender: ‘Miles of Skye.’ CU-Denver Advocate.

Comments are closed.