Review by Chris MacKenzie • Greentrax Recordings, CDTRAX411

The first fifty four seconds of Kyle Warren’s Relentless CD sets down a marker, that what follows will not be a gentle stroll through piping’s gently verdant pastures. Instead, it discombobulates you into thinking you have slipped Megadeath into the CD. Slowly the spoken refrain Eat Sleep Pipe Repeat makes itself known and just as you wonder where on earth this is going the pipes kick into the second track, Eat, Sleep, Pipe, Repeat and calm is restored.

Calm on this CD is however a relative term as the tracks are big, bold and so full on that injudicious setting of your amp, even well below eleven, will certainly result in a visit from the local constabulary. Kyle’s name may be on the front, but he has gathered round him a band of talents, Stevie Lawrence, Craig Muirhead, Adam Brown, Jack Smedley, Scott MacKay and James Lindsay to give that big band sound and if that wasn’t enough he has brought him other ‘guests’ such as Scott Wood, and Steven Shedden to further beef up the sound and layer in additional sounds. The overall effect is of an almost stadium level sound that has a deep complexity driven along with a relentless energy. Tracks such as Trending and Relentless have an energy that has clearly been influenced by Kyle’s membership of the piping super-group The Red Hot Chilli Pipers. The other Chilli Pipers’ feature, that shines through, is the pipes are always to the fore – they may have a lot going on around them (and they do) but Kyle’s melodic tunes stay at the centre. It isn’t all brogue to the boards though and Rjukan and Solitaire see Kyle take a much more reflective approach. Rjukan has Craig’s delicate piano playing behind Kyle’s delightful air (one I suspect will be picked up by both trad bands and pipe bands in years to come). It does get the big finish treatment though with a minute to go and that does seem a little OTT – sometimes less is enough. Solitaire, by Stuart Irvine, gets a lazy acoustic guitar start from Stevie Lawrence before Leon Thorne brings the sax gently in, by the time the pipes kick in an easy groove has been established for the pipes, and sax, to soar over.  

As you would expect from as prolific a composer as Kyle the CD features mainly his own tunes. One of the few exceptions is his take on the Martyn Bennett classic Ud the Doudouk, which, it is fair to say, wouldn’t be out of place on one of Martyn’s CDs, which as good as it gets when covering iconic tunes.

If the first fifty-four seconds of this album is unusual then the inclusion of a spoken word track, The Pipers in the Stand, is downright exotic. Those that have had the experience of other pipers judging them (and that is every piper that ever picked up a set) will be very familiar with the sentiment of the words and if it doesn’t bring a smile (even a rye one) to your face then you may well be the piper in the stand.

The CD finishes with Kyle, demonstrating, with panache, his excellent technique on the intro to Sampled, before everyone is called to action for the big finish. This is Kyle’s second album, following on from his debut CD, Wanted. This is a very well-crafted album with a rake of good tunes that all don’t just survive the addition of the layers that are put around them, but positively shine through them. Big bold beats and a driving rhythm give this recording a sound that you would expect from RURA, The Peat Bog Fairies or indeed the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. There is no ‘hairy goat’ playing here, instead it is pipe music for the twenty first century. CHRIS MacKENZIE