Press

Here’s what people are saying about Matthew Welch and Blarvuster:

Bagpiper Matthew Welch released his striking debut Ceol Nua just past the age of 25, and followed it up three years later with Dream Tigers, one of 2005’s best. The multi-talented New Yorker’s work is marked by the exploration of intersections between incongruous ethnic musical traditions. As always, his cross-cultural collisions on Blarvuster sound both excitingly novel and uncannily natural. On the first six tracks, Welch’s bagpipes lead his sextet through verdant Celtic terrain, buttressed by a rock rhythm section and peppered with Indonesian flourishes. It’s Welch at his most straightforwardly melodic, the joyous arrangements fluidly serpentine, their beauty intricately woven like a Celtic knot. Welch’s debut as a vocalist, though, may provide the bumps in the road for some listeners. He sings wordless canntaireachd (a system developed to aid bagpipers in the communication of music without pipes at the ready), whose high pitch and nasal quality doesn’t mesh as well with the music as his bagpipes, though they add a nice bit of gristle to the smoother tracks. Blarvuster ends with Canntaireachd Masolah, a 30-minute Eastern-influenced opera in four movements. Welch’s canntaireachd meshes more organically this time around, and the music has a moody and mysterious air that communicates emotion with nary an understandable word. Welch’s music is equally appealing intellectually and aesthetically, and Blarvusteris another strong entry in an already impressive oeuvre.

– Adam Strohm, Signal to Noise

“Of all those bagpipe playing singer/composer/improvisors we know, Brooklyn based Matthew Welch is by far the greatest, and Blarvuster is a characteristic leap of the imagination. The opening ‘suite’, played by a sextet including guitarist Mary Halvorson, folds Celtic dance steps into Indonesian modes with a funk backbeat, and Welch’s hollering vocals makes you truly believe that whole Celto-Indo funk fusion tradition has been around for years.”

– Philip Clark, The Wire


“The ensemble’s border-busting music is original and catchy. . . Blarvuster is worth sticking around for.”
– The New York Times

“Blarvuster leaps vast geographical distances, imagining statistically implausible musical melting pots that sound utterly natural”
– Time Out New York

“… some serious bagpipe wizardry… as far as I can tell, Matt Welch must be the Eddie Van Halen of the bagpipes.”
– Pop Matters

“Matthew Welch is an exciting young composer, saxophonist and virtuoso piper who has discovered the hidden nexus of the Celtic and Balinese musical traditions. Matt’s second CD for Tzadik presents two exciting new projects: a beautifully orchestrated opera expanding on the language of minimalism with honesty and originality, and his dynamic touring band Blarvuster, which blends the complex skirls and rhythmic subtleties of the Highland pipes with a vibrant rock sensibility. Featuring the best out of yet another new generation of downtown musicians, this is lush and exotic new music from a fresh new compositional explorer.”
-John Zorn

High resolution photos and Blarvuster Album cover for download: