Saor Patrol

The Stomp (Scottish Pipes and Drums Untamed)

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Modernizing traditional Celtic music is a tricky proposition. Its popularity is based at least in part on the traditional nature itself, aside from the inherent musicality. Nonetheless, the boys of Saor Patrol fling themselves into the role of modernizers with gusto. The album opens in a rather standard fashion, pipes blaring a bit. With "The Stomp," though, the band moves into a full ZZ Top-style electric groove -- pipes missing, drums and bass ablaze. There's dramatic, pastoral pipe music by the next song, however, bringing the tone back to something more nostalgic under the able piping of Charlie Allan. Electric guitars parallel the pipes in "Solveig...Gone Electric," and a full-fledged attack on the drums in "M.S.B." could nearly have doubled as a Kodo composition. That drum fanaticism gets worked ably into the following track, providing a strong foundation for a rousing pipe piece in "Black Bull," but tapers off for a darker, almost Phil Collins-inspired beat in "Toom Tabard." The stronger pipe and drum combination returns for a pair of tracks, finishing the album with the addition of an electric guitar for an off-kilter synthesis of metal riffs and bagpipes. The album has a few fits and starts when it switches from nostalgic to groundbreaking and back, but it's amusing and a good listen throughout.

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