The intricacy of Celtic jewellery, with is maze-like interweaving of lines without apparent end, its recurrent patterns and its mythical creatures swallowing their own tails, finds a sonic mirror in the culture’s traditional music. Brighde Chambeul (pronounced Bree-choo Campbell), who hails from the Isle of Skye, plays the Scottish smallpipes, the mellower, woody sound of which is ideal for illuminating, as if by candlelight, the intricate beauty of the melodies. While these are predominantly Gaelic (many coming from Patrick McDonald’s 1784 collection), others have been sourced from as far afield as Bulgaria – a musical overlap akin to that with Brittany.
Chaimbeul is joined by Aidan O’Rourke on fiddle and Radie Peat on concertina (with a wee dash of vocals from Rona Lightfoot), and their collective brilliance is pivotal in breathing life into these tunes. The audio verite recording was made in a church, so the sounds (including a harmonium Chaimbeul found there) come snaking from the speakers with natural reverb, and swirl around each other to quite unearthly effect. When it is played like this, I can think of no other musical idiom that can be simultaneously as exhilarating and as soothing.