New York-based experimental musicians David Watson and Matthew Welch present avant-music for the Great Highland bagpipes. Both Watson and Welch share a common language with the traditions of bagpiping but more importantly, the desire to use that language to break out of it. Watson came to New York from New Zealand and is also a guitarist, known for his collaboration with Norwegian free-improv master Frode Gejerstad in the Tipple trio with percussionist Kevin Norton. Welch studied composition with Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton and composed electronic and orchestral music and collaborated with Indonesian gamelan musicians.
Watson and Welch worked often as a duo within projects of their like-minded colleagues in the New York Downtown scene, but Woven is their debut album as a duo. It presents three compositions and improvisations for the Highland bagpipes, recorded at the cavernous space of Seizure’s Place in Brooklyn in one afternoon in August 2019. Watson mentions that each piece started from a simple direction and ideas flowed easily with a strong emphasis on sound, and it clearly reflects Watson and Welch’s twenty years of working together. Both musicians have developed a sonic-architectural outline through which they can improvise and respond to each other’s playing within certain confines of the musical score, whose structure is clear and austere, amidst the often torrential down-pouring of skirls.
If you are not afraid of the sound of the Scottish Gaelic Great Highland bagpipes, then «Woven» offers a unique and blissful listening experience. The extended «Weft» invites the listener to wander within a hypnotic, minimalist drone that offers a spacious ambiance of ethereal, meditative overtones, often sounding like an otherworldly electroacoustic texture. The brief but still minimalist «Warp» intensifies the duo’s minimalist dynamics while the last and extended «Weave» alternates between the minimalist hypnotic vibe that Watson and Welch have mastered before and tense dynamics that explore the dissonant, rebellious sonorities of the bagpipes.
David Watson (highland bagpipes), Matthew Welch (highland bagpipes)