Review Archive

‘Breathe’ - The Red Hot Chilli Pipers - a fusion that defies classification

(July 10, 2013)

Who would consider an amalgamation of scything synths, air-cleaving guitars, power-bass lines, Breatheblazing brass, shattering drums and percussion overlaid with the unique sound of Highland bagpipes a recipe for success? The Red Hot Chilli Pipers that’s who. Starting as a ‘good idea between friends’ the Red Hot Chilli Pipers now deliver a unique bagpipe-rock-folk fusion they call ‘Bagrock’. Their latest album ‘Breathe’ demonstrates the power behind the concept - energised classic rock and pop tracks morphing with traditionally inspired and original jigs, reels and strathspeys into a fusion that defies classification.

A breath-taking live act, the Chilli’s music transfers to album without any loss of dynamism and drive.  ‘Breathe’ overflows with ‘bagloads’ of energy. There remains that moment you recognise the tune, albeit in a totally unexpected format, then just as you settle in to the feel there’s a ripping bagpipe-driven force field that nails you to your seat and two seconds later rips you out of it to join in the mayhem. This music is highly infectious - from the synth-fed transformation of Irish tradition with ‘Silver Spear’ through to the highly embellished, rock tinged Scottish pibroch within ‘Young Blood’ - hear it and you’ll want more. There’s the anthemic ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ fused with ‘The Jig Runrig’; the punch of ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’ with ZZ Top meets Scotland and the bizarre yet addictive combination of ‘Cars’ with ‘Smooth Criminal’ – each of these tunes bonded by bagpipes to form outlandish yet gorgeous beasts.

Should you not know the band, make no mistake this isn’t just a bunch of itinerant pipers bashing out rock covers. Between them the band has four music degrees from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. The Chilli’s founding member and musical director, Stuart Cassells, was BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year and snare drummer Steven Graham, he of the blisteringly fast hands, is a two-times world champion. And the respect for tradition and desire to ensure its continuance is profound. Find ‘Breathe’ and learn more about The Red Hot Chilli Pipers here:

‘Breathe’ is a seething vortex, a hurricane, a twister that sometimes gently caresses but ultimately sweeps you away and leaves you fighting for breath. My advice, just go with the flow – and breathe.

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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