Sophistry & Illusion
Dalriada is the creation of music producer Clark Sorley from Ayrshire in Scotland. In the early 90s, in collaboration with rock vocalist Colin Kennedy, he put together the album 'All is Fair' which was released on Iona Records to critical acclaim. This recording was made up of new arrangements of traditional Scottish songs reworked for a contemporary musical context producing a highly innovative approach to the folk/rock crossover. 'Sophistry & Illusion' was the band's follow up release in 1998 and represented a considerable development. It contains 16 titles including 10 original songs written by Sorley & Kennedy, and five instrumentals also brand new works. The songs explore a range of issues, a subtle political and philosophical bias running through the album. The production employs conventional instrumentation i.e. acoustic guitars, fiddles, whistles, pipes, bouzoukis etc. Alongside a tasteful blend of synthesized textures and sampled drum loops. Kennedy's soulful voice completes the picture. The album was described as 'a diverse and complex work, not easy to categorise'. It is not rock or pop although it is influenced in that direction. Neither is it dance nor technology orientated but uses some of the associated production techniques. It would not fit into a folk niche and even less would it cater to the rampant tartanry so beloved of many of Scotland's music labels. Though none of these, it would still be happy with a mainstream popular tag and sit easily on daytime radio. With it's distinctive Celtic flavour it would also seek to appeal to the tastes of a more traditional ear. Sophistry & Illusion was initially released as a special limited edition CD on the Edinburgh based label, Qudisc. It is still available in that format with a fully illustrated 32-page booklet designed by Ian Roy. The introductory remarks carry Sorley's damning perspective on the music industry in Scotland, attributing it's poor performance to a deep rooted, unhealthy scepticism which has historically and philosophically dominated the Scottish psyche. Still, the prevailing mood in the work is generally one of hope and optimism for the future. All told, it is an unusual package drawing together an eclectic mix of musical influences in an original way, with quotes and illustrations, justifying the comment in an early review that it is indeed 'an innovation in Scottish music'.