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Peatbog Records CDBOG007

It’s been four years since their last album. As if to signal their return, Blackhouse explodes with driving synth and drums to get the feet tapping before fiddle and pipes kick in with the melody. The style is unmistakeable, lead bagpipes see to that, but the content is varied and always rhythmically inventive.

Not that the band has been inactive since Dust; I’ve caught them twice live but there have been changes. The core of the band remains the same, but Ross Coupar has taken over fiddle duties. The loss of the brass section, which contributed greatly to their big sound, is the biggest change, but this has been more than adequately filled by synths and electronic effects from the fiddle.

It’s generally fast paced but The Chatham Lasses and The Dragon’s Apprentice are more measured. Simple bass and drum open the latter, then the pipes kick in with a tune written by nine year old Archie MacLean (someone to look out for?) which is given the Faerie touch. Most of the tunes have been written by Peter Morrison, but Ross Coupar provides three. The delightfully lyrical Jakes On A Plane, at number two, provides a sharp contrast to the opening track.

Strictly Sambuca, written after “tunes and wild craic” at the Lock Inn, Fort Augustus, finishes the album. Some of the electronics reminded me of my head the ‘day after’; their soft reprises of the melody of the good time remembered later. I sympathise, such times have occasionally almost finished me.

Iain Campbell

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This album was reviewed in Issue 109 of The Living Tradition magazine.