The first collaborative release by the duo of US-based kiwi experimental bagpiper David Watson and famed percussionist of The Necks, Tony Buck. Watson and Buck’s premiere recording documents two twenty-plus minute tracks featuring the hallucinatory sound palette of the highland bagpipes, drums and percussion.
Ask the Axes leads with Watson blowing out a grounding and sonorous fundamental tone. Moments later it’s redoubled with the serrated buzz of a higher register saw wave, suggesting a startling revelation of the untapped potential of the highland pipes. As Watson steadily accumulates layers, the sound takes on a prismatic effect. From the droning choir of reeds, phantasmic overtones suddenly surface and are submerged in a fizzing backdrop like aural phosphenes. When Buck enters he manages to do so without interrupting Watson’s uncanny suspension of time. His toms and snare splinter with a giddy phasing effect as he shakes a number of bells into a thrumming substratum.
On side b, the duo evolve into an ecstatic kinesis, expanding and accelerating sensations of space and time. Buck’s measured crescendo conjures the trance-inducing meditations of the sufi dervishes while Watson’s pipes peal out glossolalic spasms that sound like a long lost maclise ritual. As the record closes in heaves and gasps, a warm afterglow settles in ahead of a startling conclusion.