Phat Controller Productions PHATCD005

It’s an easily-used term to describe an album as “long-awaited”, but ever since I heard Pipedown’s first album, I genuinely wanted to hear more of them.  It is another reviewing cliché to describe a second album as “difficult”, but the boys obviously didn’t find this in the slightest bit hard, and neither will the listeners.

Pipedown comprise Lee Moore, Highland and small pipes; Steve Reid, guitar; Axel Campbell, mandolin; and Steve Fivey, percussion.  Often there can be difficulties in recording such a line-up, with imbalance between pipes and other, lighter, instruments, so full marks to Iain Copeland for engineering and co-producing to such a high standard (and sitting in on snare drum for a set) – there is a great clarity of tone, which allows everyone to be appreciated in their own right as well as overall.

That overall sound is really catchy and lively, with thoughtful use of a djembe as lead percussion on several tracks to complement the incredibly tight melody lines. There’s a good mixture of traditional and recently-composed material to give plenty of variety; the majority being Scottish, but with Irish and North American numbers, and a spectacular, pulsing Bulgarian trip for something a wee bit different.

This is pipe music for converting those who think they don’t like piping, and for convincing those who do that this is one of the most talented pipe-led groups around.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 72 of The Living Tradition magazine.