Carry Them With Us

GB 139CD GB 139CD

Scottish smallpipes player Brìghde Chaimbeul is a leading purveyor of experimental Celtic music. Her piping has earned her a BBC Young Folk Award and a BBC Horizon Award. Her second album Carry Them With Us is an exhilarating weave of rich textural drones, trance atmospheres and instrumental folk traditions. Acclaimed Canadian sound explorer and saxophonist Colin Stetson is a featured collaborator on the record. Stories can be told in music as well as words, and on her second album, Carry Them With Us, Brìghde Chaimbeul reveals hers. From her heart, from the Scottish tradition that formed her. And every one of them weaves its spell, as a good story should. The Scottish smallpipes, with their double-note drones, were in danger of falling into obscurity before Brìghde (pronounced Bree-chuh) Chaimbeul, a native Gaelic speaker from the Isle of Skye, became part of their more recent revival. Carry Them With Us is undoubtedly Chaimbeul's vision, but collaborator Colin Stetson, an experimental saxophonist and film composer probably best known for his work with Arcade Fire, helped her realize it. They seem to inhabit the same space, breathe the same air. Often, it's hard to tell where one instrument ends and the other begins - as she notes, "his style and breathing fit with the pipes." It's hypnotic, alive -- listen to "Tha Fonn Gun Bhi Trom: I Am Disposed of Mirth," where the music sometimes seems to suddenly bubble and flutter into the air. With the constancy of the drone as their foundation, and small changes to the melodies as they progressed, the music becomes immersive as Chaimbeul and Stetson weave over and around each other. Together, they created an album of stories. Some, like "Crònan (i)" came spontaneously as the pair played in the studio. Others, "Pilliù: The Call of the Redshank" and "Pìobaireachd Nan Eun: The Birds," grew from traditional pieces. Old things, stories, birdsong, are part of the tradition that surrounded Chaimbeul as she grew up. Chaimbeul tells them with a voice that's completely her own. Her singing at the close of "Bonn Beinn Eadarra: The Haunting," arrives like a ghost, its spectral feel lingering long after the track is over. On "Banish the Giant of Doubt And Despair," her playing brings the tale alive, as the daughter of the king of the land under the waves sings a tune before her wedding, and then when a giant, marauding the Western Isles, hears her. Enraptured, he cannot stop dancing, he ends up in the Atlantic, to the island of Hiort, where he topples over and drowns. It's storytelling in music, the past given new colors.