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Fingering An Idea

David Watson


Watson- bagpipes, guitars



I first heard of Watson a couple years ago in the London Sunday Times which reviewed one of his records, calling it the “experimental bagpipe record of the year.” Like there was any competition? That one wasn’t released stateside, so when I came upon this one in the hopper I was primed. The whole of the first cd in this 2-cd set is extended bagpipe sonics. Half the cuts are by Watson alone (or multitracked) and half are bagpipe group efforts with five other pipers joining along. What comes across throughout this cd is the eternal sustained tone or drone, the long view, the pleasing howl from which you could imagine all bagpipe music of all cultures ultimately comes. There are some recognizably Scottish swirls here and there, and these are evocative, and sometimes thrilling. They always return, however, to the ageless drone ocean that is the fundamental characteristic of this record. This cd is recommended to partisans of Phill Niblock and 60s-era La Monte Young. It is restorative, calming, exalted, scary, soothing, focussing.


The second cd is multi-tracked guitars, all played by Watson. These are minimal pieces for mostly electric guitars, but sometimes acoustic ones, and feature frequently recurring patterns in the classic early minimalist mode. I frankly wish there was more variation here. Where the bagpipe cd was spiritually nourishing, this one is more like roughage without water, milk or butter to help it go down easily. Nevertheless, the first cd is so stunning it nullifies the issue of the hanger-on second one. The twofer list price means you can’t go wrong here.



XI Records

XI 132



Richard Grooms