Originally posted on April 7, 2011
Blarvuster played Matthew Welch’s Blind Piper’s Obstinacy # 2 at le poisson rouge last month, the group’s first time performing at the West Village venue (watch clips from Blarvuster’s set above).
Led by composer/bagpiper Matthew Welch, Blarvuster is part experimental chamber ensemble, part experimental indie-rock band, simultaneously capturing the rigor of composed music (note the sheet music in the video) with the spontaneity of rock music. Infused into this mix is both a distinct Balinese gamelan feel—particularly in the way that each of the instrument’s lines interlock with one another—and of course the rousing Gaelic tone from the bagpipes. What’s surprising is how very “New York City” the music sounds, with its continuous motion, created by considerable individual effort—individuals at times rhythmically unified and at others appearing to work independently of each other—and in which solo or duo lines can occasionally be heard singing through the multitude.
Welch describes his inspiration for Blind Piper’s Obstinacy # 2:
“A few years ago, the MOMA had an exhibition of large Richard Serra sculptures. They were gigantic, curvilinear, ribbon-like sculptures’ whose overwhelming size prevented one from really being able to absorb an entire work in one moment…This experience re-sparked my interest in the large-scale monolithic music composition (typical of early Glass/Reich and late Feldman) where the listener can become disoriented and lose one’s perception of the overall proportions of the structure. At that point I started writing long multi-modular pieces for Blarvuster, emphasizing an ecstatic web of gnarled contrapuntal lines and modal/noise improvisation. Blind Piper’s Obstinacy # 2 is one in this series bringing together dense and dark polyphonic arabesques in Balinese modes and the abstract, haunting lyricism of early Scottish Highland Bagpipe Piobaireachd.”