I have to admit, there's something about the bagpipes that tugs at me - probably it has something to do with the melancholy, mournful sound: the raw, natural screech so at odds with our modern technological cocoon. It's ancient and full of years, and much like Celtic music it speaks to the Irish in me (or something like that). Mike Katz plays Highland pipes and whistles with a group called Battlefield Band; A Month of Sundays is a solo effort that culls songs both from old manuscripts and his own compositions.
Indeed, some of the songs he plays on A Month of Sundays come from two volumes of pipe music originally published in the mid-19th century. What is interesting to me is how Katz manages to make the pipes move from bouncy and spry to moody and almost ominous; the fourteen track on the album, "Monday's Jig/The Road to Bruntsfield/Donnie MacGregor," has an intriguing sense of unease about it that ultimately moves into a more traditional jig. There are occasions where the wail of the pipes is almost too much; too strong, too overpowering. But those are few and far between, and in general Katz quickly slides into more rousing, stirring music.
A Month of Sundays is an interesting album, a "folk" or "roots" piece for those who enjoy the mournful howl of pipes over the Highlands, or the sense of a soul pining for those who are lost. It's not so much that it is all "sad" music as it is burnished with the sense of the Scottish highlands - the rocky craigs, the centuries of turmoil and war, the need for some sort of violent or passionate expression. All of that finds some measure of release in the songs on this album, and I found it quite - well, intriguing, I guess would probably be a good word.