Paul Dunmall

Solo Bagpipes II

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If the bagpipes ever become a widespread instrument among free improvisers, Paul Dunmall will be allowed to take a huge part of the credit. The Mujician saxophonist is a seasoned player on various pipes. Here he performs solo improvisations on Gaida, Northumberland, and border bagpipes. This album was recorded in one studio session in April 2001 and released less than two months later as a CD-R on Dunmall's own DUNS Limited Edition label. No matter how much a free music fan you are, nothing can prepare you for this blow. It's like hearing Evan Parker circular breathing into a more nasal soprano saxophone, except there are a lot more notes, the music is more sustained and entrancing. The not-so-self-describing "Infinity Within a Semitone" opens the album with a slithering number. The tone is set: If you don't like microtonality, circular breathing, or the sound of bagpipes, you're in for a hard time. "The Day Before Freedom" and "Snatch Us From the Terrors of Fear and Pain" provide moments of relative peace, the latter especially is a beautiful tune with mournful resonances. "A Bag Mistake" is a funny cut where the musician plays unorthodox mouth tricks. The set ends with the 15-minute "The Mountains Love Big Pipes," one of the busiest tracks. Cycles of notes just keep on coming. When Dunmall hits the bourdon four minutes into the improv, the skies tear apart. Solo Bagpipes II provides a very different experience, but some people might find it a bit limited. Still recommended.

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