The duelling bagpipes of Ross Ainslie (Border pipes) and Jarlath Henderson (Uilleann pipes) make a welcome return on Air-Fix, four years after their debut album. Both lads are also fine whistle players and are joined by their usual touring band on the album, adding bass drums and fiddle, with the unusual guest appearance of a Wurlitzer.
The entire ensemble features on the first track, Full Moon, but in spite of this, it begins gently with the instruments in conversation with each other before joining together for the final, extremely lively tune of the set.
Eavesdropper is a real showcase of Ross and Jarlath’s virtuosity on the pipes, a truly joyful sound, underpinned by the driving rhythm of guitar and percussion.
In Smeceno, the rest of the band has a rest while the pipes tackle a complicated Bulgarian tune set, featuring some interesting irregular time signatures. Fabulous to listen to, but dangerous for dancing!
Not everything is fast and furious however. The lads can play a slow tune with as much skill as a fast one, as shown in the track Trees, where the whistles take the lead in a haunting melody before handing over to the pipes.
Two songs appear on this album: Gerry Rafferty’s Look Over the Hills Far Away (introduced by the whistle and accompanied by guitar and fiddle) and Paddy Casey’s Anybody Who’s Yet to Come. Jarlath sings these with backing vocals from his sister Alana. Both are sensitively arranged and an unexpected contrast to the instrumental music that surrounds them.
Perhaps the most outstanding track on the album is the one that ends it - Hawk is a final demonstration of the virtuosity and infectious energy of these two talented musicians.
Air-Fix is an excellent album, and well worth the four year wait!Shelley Rainey
Released on Great White Records, 28th October 2013
1. Full Moon
7. Look Over the Hill