Review by Stuart Cassells
REED ADVENTURES – Thomas Lukassek (self released)
Genre: Bagpipes, Celtic, Ambience, Instrumental
‘Reed Adventures’ is exactly as the title suggests. It’s an experiment with the fusion of various types of bagpipes playing together along with backing instrumentation cleverly provided by loops and samples.The CD features the electronic sound of The Highland, Lowland and Uillean bagpipes in different styles, genres and moods. Thanks to modern technology and programming software, this kind of experimentation of instrumentation and timbres, which would have cost previously tens of thousands of pounds, can now be replicated in all studios.
It is refreshing to hear an album that uses the various sounds from different bagpipes together in the one song and I believe there is a future for more cross-pollination of bagpipes. The Uilleann pipe over the Smallpipe sound on the track ‘Grade Two River’ is particularly nice and combined with the strong hypnotic melody makes this is my favourite track on the album. The counter melody played on the Uilleann pipes over the main tune is fantastic. Another highlight is ‘Sunday Afternoon’. The sleeve notes mention this was originally to be called ‘Migraine’ but a migraine wouldn’t sound as melodic as this. A gentle song where the sound of waves and soft Low Whistle accompanied by tasteful acoustic guitar and strings will make you relax and daydream. It wouldn’t be out of place as background music in an expensive health spa.
There are tracks I feel didn’t quite pull off the experiment of sounds. ‘Bagblues’ in particular didn’t work for me. I didn’t think the melody was catchy enough and the backing didn’t enhance the tune but I did enjoy the Jews Harp solo in the middle. The title track ‘Reed Adventures’ sounded too much like samples and didn’t have the strong melody that bagpipe tunes require or the evolution of a song going somewhere.
‘For Ireland I’ll Not Tell Her Name’ has a great groove behind it and is a classic melody with good blending of Smallpipe and Highland pipe sounds. The accompaniment chords, especially in the second part, aren’t always the most sympathetic for the tune but I’m sure this track will be enjoyed by most.
There are a few tracks that have the great popular ‘Enya’ Celtic anthem feel, which with bagpipes is always a powerful sound. ‘Benderloch Fox’ is a lovely example of this and the string sounds really enhance the pipe sounds. The first track of the album entitled ‘Barless Fivestar’ is a good choice of opener for the CD as it gives a good intro with the didgeridoo sounds over low whistle and is a great flavour for what the rest of the album sounds like.
‘Reed Adventures’ is indeed an adventure of sounds and Thomas Lukassek shows he is a clever musician with a good ear for blending complimentary instruments and many sounds. has produced a nice CD with lots of good ideas that deserve further exploring.
Stuart Cassells is the founder of the highly successful bagpipe group ‘The Red Hot Chilli Pipers’. He became the first bagpiper to graduate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with a degree in bagpipes and in 2005 he was awarded the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year.