Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant pipe corps. Can't wait to hear them at the pipes of peace concert. Surely this cd can't be as boring as SFU's On Home Ground.... Manawatu's clarity of chanter sound and drones is what every band strives to achieve, correct ? BUT..... give me live in concert anyday ! Best of luck to all on Saturday.
“Tu’s” sound has been outstanding over the years, as has the unison of playing, so I was expecting this recording to be a significant step-up from their previous studio effort, “The Calling”. Andrew B’s review is fair and correct – the actual presentation of the band’s sound is indeed stale and clinical. It’s as if all the power and brilliance has been shaved-down, via compression and over-production, into this generic bagpipe sound that some electric bagpipes achieve. Although I duly and respectfully note that “On Home Ground” (an album from Mr Bonar’s band) received similar treatment and came out quite the same.
Although nothing unusual or new, it’s clearly just a smattering of pipers also (perhaps only maybe half a dozen or so, per track). This makes sense regarding time management, money and unison. But at the same time it doesn’t make sense when the album sleeve lists many more (and very capable) personnel.
Sadly, this recording left me feeling somewhat cold and it stopped short of my justifiably high expectations. Most sets are plagued by subtle and irritating intonation problems, most notably on D throughout the recording, and therefore the precision sound that this band is normally renowned for just isn’t quite there. I found this very distracting because one should rightly expect a lot more from them, especially with a cut-down pipe corps. The delivery of the music is neat and “clinical” indeed, but it’s just that and not much more. Most sets roll along and are played accurately but, stylistically speaking, they lack something and I found my attention not being held like it should.
Tune selections were curious in parts. The Ethiopian number stands out like a dalliance that went wrong. I just can’t find a tune in there that lends itself to the pipes, nor see how the arrangement does the instrument any justice, or vice versa.
I’m a huge fan of this band, despite their sometimes overly-formulaic, metronomic and safe approach to many time signatures, strathspey playing in particular – ‘strong, strong, strong, strong’. I guess this is a trait of some ‘global’ bands that pull players in from all corners for a tilt at just a few contests per year, maybe even less.
A gauge often used is to put a pipe band CD on at band BBQs. If people come inside and crowd the stereo, pour over the album sleeve, and soak up each bar, phrase and gracenote, it’s usually a good to excellent recording. If it just drifts along in the background with the occasional “who’s that?” from someone, it’s in the other pile. Sadly, this CD was in the latter.
I personally prefer listening to live concert or competition recordings vs the "electronically overmachined, 3 pipers overdubbed (I'm exaggerating for a point) dead front in your face with no depth perception" studio recordings. The live element maintains a real band experience, sound and energy vs the, well, you know...Cudos to all those who choose to release live concert material!