Scots fiddler and Austrian piper produce a sumptuous nugget

The Pipe Slang is a translation from the Gaelic song Feadan glan a’ phiobair, a tune of which Simon Fraser comments in the appendix to his famous 1874 collection.

“In the words of the pipe slang, the noisy rattling piper of a country wedding draws a ridiculous comparison betwixt his own music and that of the violin, so frequently interrupted by the breaking of strings, tuning, & c……”

Whether this challenge was in the mind Tiree fiddler Jamie MacDonald when he met piper Austrian Christian Gamauf in the Isles of Uist whilst studying we shall need to ask but needless to say they lads ultimately recorded an excellent album of music with influences from around the world yet retaining a particular Hebridean slant with the timeless combination of fiddle and pipes.

From the opening track Jig it is clear we are in for a fine time with this recording as the strains of the wonderful Fuddler give way to a stylish and crisp rendering of Compliments to the Boys of the Lough.

This sprightly start leads to a nicely tempered Asturian set including Simon Bradley’s Last Night in Roddens and the infectious Cariàu Llaniscu.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard or indeed contemplated Jerry Holland’s emotive Tears played on the pipes but Christian’s sensitive playing certainly brings an added injection of pathos discreetly supported by Jamie’s distinctive fiddle.

The Step Dancer Reels is a joyous, romping set and the tricky Highlandman Kissed His Mother will have everyone’s toes tapping though the step dancing element of the track will probably have more of an impact on live stage.

A set of Tiree Melodies movingly started by Jamie, beautifully accompanied by his sister Anna Rachel on clarsach (whose vocals we are also treated to in a couple of lovely Gaelic songs along the way) and spiced with Christian’s intercessions is quite delightful and I particularly appreciate the dignified approach to The Boy’s Lament for his Dragon, a set which also contains the title tune of the album. By the time The Ruaig Road End was reached I was smiling away to myself and moving to press the replay button.

Further support from Jack McRobbie on guitar, Adam Young on Piano, Anna-Wendy Stevenson’s viola and Sophie Stephenson’s step dancing the album, scheduled to be released next month, is studded with some sumptuous nuggets of traditional music with ne’er an interruption to fix a broken string or retune! Well worth a listen.