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RORY CAMPBELL & MALCOLM STITT "Field of Bells" KRL CDLDL1285

At last it has arrived - a pipe and string fusion album that sounds as if the two primary musicians intuitively understand what each other is trying to convey. More than anything else, this album is a perfectly balanced demonstration of how exciting and vibrant contemporary pipe music can be. The vital secret to the success of the tunes is the mutual understanding of Campbell and Stitt, who have been playing together for years - as members of Deaf Shepherd and in other incarnations. Most of the tunes are penned by Campbell, the piper, who also contributes whistle sections to give delightful elements of counterpoint to the less delicate pipe playing, for example on tracks such as Airmail which also feature Jim Sutherland and Neil Harland (synthesized drums and bass respectively). Stitt's guitar and bouzouki playing is a constant driving force behind the tunes, four of which he is credited with contributing, either singly or in collaboration with Campbell. One thing that is pretty well certain with recordings featuring a piper, is that the tempo will be rock solid throughout, probably since most pipers come from a marching tradition - which makes some of Sutherland's contributions a bit superfluous to my ear. But Hey!, don't let that put anyone off buying the album just because of my lug!

Even if you suspect that an album of pipe music might not tickle your fancy I would urge you to give it a try - particularly as the whistle-led tracks such as Low Country give moments of light relief from the pibroch. I must point out, however, that at less than forty minutes long this has to be one of the shortest CDs you will see this year - come on guys you must have a lot more than this in your repertoire worth putting on an album!

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 34 of The Living Tradition magazine.