A few line-up changes since this group’s previous CD Shed Life topped my 2012 chart, but the message is unchanged: Scottish music with as much modern jiggery-pokery as they can get away with. Electronics, distortion, beat-boxing, loops, spins and twists, and things I don’t even have a name for, are thrown behind pipe and fiddle music, reels and jigs at a hot dance tempo – and it works! There are also great sleevenotes with this CD – it even comes in a radically retro clear plastic case – so I can actually tell you about the music. Don’t ask me what the album title means, though: I have absolutely no idea.
The core crew is fiddler Neil Ewart and technomancer Iain Copeland, plus new boys Angus Binnie on pipes, Seumas Maclennan on bouzouki, and Darren Maclean on vocals. Maeve Mackinnon’s voice makes a cameo comeback on Failte Dhruim Fionn, and a host of pipers and whistlers put in guest appearances: Ross Ainslie, Ali Levack, and the late Fraser Shaw. There’s a surprisingly small amount of strictly traditional material on Highland Time, but plenty of great tunes by modern composers in a trad style. Michael Rankin’s, The Dodgy Chanter, The Jig Runrig, Splendid Isolation, Dr MacPhail’s Reel and Lord McConnell of Lough Erne and Lochend are all fabulously well played and backed with a bruising techno beat. The Shooglenifty classic She’s in the Attic is an unsurprising choice, and there are several compositions by Ewart in a similarly funky groove. Sketch have achieved a pretty optimal mix of modern and traditional here, making this another very enjoyable CD. My only serious gripe is that the whistle disappears in the mix occasionally – but as a whistle player I may be slightly biased!