A Note from David Watson
I had already spent years as part of the experimental music community in New York when I took up playing bagpipes. For years, I had the bagpipes lurking in the back of my mind like some sonic sleeper-cell. Conceptually I already had the concerns of experimental music. For me, it was a matter of gaining enough ability to realize them. I can’t help but wonder if Matthew’s trajectory hasn’t been something like the exact reverse? And here with this recording we find ourselves in the best kind of crossroads.
We are trying to bring other voices into the conversation of what is “new music”. Over years, so many people have generously shared with us their knowledge and thoughts on the music. We share a lot of common language with the traditions of bagpiping and perhaps more importantly here, the desire to use that language to break out of it.
I have always been fortunate to work with phenomenal collaborators, in this instance with this most thoughtful and brilliant piper, Matthew Welch. We went into the cavernous space that is Seizure’s Palace in Brooklyn and recorded this material in one afternoon. Each piece started from a simple direction and ideas flowed easily with a strong emphasis on sound. Just by themselves, new music and bagpiping are extraordinarily demanding. Put them together, and it can seem like you are chasing after the impossible. But then, that is such an interesting problem to have.
A Note From Matthew Welch
David Watson and I have been friends for 20 years, and he is one of the few like-minded avant-pipers in the world. We have worked together on many occasions in projects of our own, and often as a duo within projects of our adventurous colleagues in the New York Downtown scene. It is much overdue that we finally have a recording of just a duo! Tellingly, the sounds of this album reflect many years of having worked together. Our process has remained very open and respectful of each other, in the curious search for a new type of bagpipe music or perhaps just a new type of music altogether.
The work here is a result of fleshing out a sonic-architectural outline through which we can fluently 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. The sounds of pipes tuning in a space move seamlessly to blissful drones and scintillating shredding displaying our dual search for both the beautiful, and the rebellious.
releases December 10, 2021
Compositions and Improvisations by David Watson and Matthew Welch for Great Highland Bagpipes.
Recorded at Seizure’s Place, Brooklyn, N.Y. August 14, 2019 by Jason LaFarge.
Mixed and edited by David Watson, 2020.
Mastered by Lawrence English at Negative Space
Socks knitted by Ikue Mori.