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Tuesday, 31 March 2020 15:19

Brìghde Chaimbeul

Written by Tim Readman
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The Reeling (River Lea Recordings)

From the opening tones of the first track, O Chiadain An Lo, you know you’re in for something special. The gothic, haunting sound of the small pipes—together with the reedy harmonium in East Church, Cromarty, where The Reeling was recorded—burrow deep into the marrow of your bones and compel you to pay attention to this beautiful, sometimes sinister, and often-haunting music.

Brìghde Chaimbeul is a 20-year-old Gaelic speaker from the Scottish Inner Hebridean Isle of Skye. When she was 17, Chaimbeul won the Radio 2 Young Folk Award and led the Highland Military Tattoo at 17. Since then, she’s travelled and explored pipe music from many places, playing with pipers across eastern Europe, in Cape Breton, and in Ireland, as well as discovering rare tunes from Hebrides and Highlands.

The tunes on The Reeling are Scottish and Bulgarian (from the kaba gaida tradition) and show the similarities between the two musical traditions. The album features 82-year-old singer and piper Rona Lightfoot, Chaimbeul’s first teacher, who sings canntaireachd (a type of singing which mimics the pipes and is used to teach tunes) on several tracks.

This wonderful recording was produced by Lau’s Aidan O’Rourke and he has perfectly preserved the real sound of the pipes with all the breathiness and creaking included. Raw, atmospheric, visceral music that challenges the listener, gets under your skin, and stays there!

Download the entire review section in Issue 85 here:

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