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Fflach:tradd CD293H

You may know of Ceri through his work with the group Fernhill.  This CD, however, is a solo release featuring the pib-cyrn (pronounced pib-gorn, I believe) which translates literally as the bag hornpipe.  Depending on who you believe, there have been bagpipes of one kind or another in Wales since the 12th (some say 10th) century.  Non-pipers (myself included) may think that one set of bagpipes is much the same as another but as I began to listen to this CD I realised I was wrong.  Ceri is playing a set of pipes made by John Glennydd to measurements of existing ancient instruments but with some design help from Ceri to enable him to play in other keys and widen the available repertoire.  Some of the tunes here are familiar to me, many are not, but all are immensely enjoyable and listenable.  The more so because of a clean, uncluttered recording (solo pipe throughout) which really allows the instrument to do its stuff, and no it doesn’t sound like every other set of pipes you have heard! 

Two tracks stand out for me for no other reason than the ‘hair on the back of the neck’ factor.  The Cambro Brython is delighfully quirky and mixes well with what appears to be a minor key arrangement of Pwt ar y bys which is well known.  At the other end of the scale is the haunting lament Llatai Dafydd Thomas, which sounds truly ancient.  This CD claims to be the first recording devoted entirely to this instrument and it is to be welcomed.  I am disappointed that the Fflach:Tradd label are once again ploughing their minimalist furrow by providing no sleeve note information about artist, instrument or music.  Having had my interest piqued by virtuoso playing of vibrant music I really wanted to know more and in that respect the CD was a disappointment.  That said, I hope that lovers of pipe music of all kinds will take the opportunity to check this one out.

Phil Thomas

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This album was reviewed in Issue 73 of The Living Tradition magazine.