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DERMOT HYDE & TOM HAKE "Pipeline" Endirecto ECD007

This duo came to my attention when they were the Folkworld editor's choice for 2001. Dermot Hyde is an uilleann piper, whistle-player, and accomplished singer with connections to both Ulster and Scotland, now based in Munich. He joins forces with multi-instrumentalist Tom Hake, a native German. Most of the material here was written by Dermot: three songs and eight tunes. There's also a handful of tunes by Dermot's brother Brendan the Edinburgh flute-player. The rest is traditional or close to it, from Ireland, Scotland and Galicia. It's all good, including the sleevenotes, and the catalogue number presumably means they're licensed to trill.

Dermot Hyde's playing is fluid, fast and full of variations. His compositions draw on the wilder side of Celtic music, and on Balkan and other modal traditions. The overall impression is of a Central European sound, heavy on bagpipes and strings, with swirling melodies and shifting rhythms. Things get a little blurred at times - Jean's Reel loses much of its impact - but mostly the effect is pleasant and exhilarating. Intersperse a few slow airs and some songs, and you have a recipe for fine entertainment. Dermot's own songs are interesting and carefully crafted, with the right mix of depths and shallows.

For variety, there's a fair helping of scat singing (a sort of jazz diddling perfected somewhere between Malin Head and Manhattan) and a couple of show-stealing Galician tracks. The slow air Maria Soliņa is a clear highlight with Tom's harp taking the lead, and Spanish superstar Uxia provides the vocals for the big finish, a medley of Galician songs and tunes. There are very few weaknesses in Pipeline, and lots of strengths.

Alex Monaghan

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