Some Haggis and a Bong

By Kirsten Makin

It is not often that an album invites you to throw on some tartan and join in a mosh across the highlands, thanks to South African Celtic rockers, Haggis and Bong this event may become a regular occurrence.

Haggis and Bong play host to a creative collaboration of songs through a spectrum of instruments ranging from the Great Highland bagpipes, to the drums, to the bass guitar and oh yes, to the trombone. The Celtic rockers who infiltrated the South African music scene in 2007 have been playing both local gigs and festivals all over South Africa, including Splashy Fen, Oppikoppi and Witchfest. Since their debut album Fire in the Bowl Haggis and Bong have succeeded in recruiting more and more Celts to their band. It is however, like any other tale better to start from the beginning by taking fans and unfamiliars back to the original tales of Haggis, Bong and the fires in the bowl.

Introducing the soft melodic sound of the pipes, it takes Angus ‘Haggis Nixon and Dominic Skelton on Pipes with Tom ‘Bong’ Hughes on drums, two short minutes to create this 10 track instrumental battle. Keeping in mind that the lyric-less sound of bagpipes may indeed become all too repetitive to the innocent listener, one must pay special attention and attribute careful consideration to the skilfulness with which these three men master their instruments What is additionally more intriguing are some of the titles of the songs on the album, which offer listeners a more South African take on these pipe rockers. The album includes Natuurlik and Qaphela-inja which are preformed on bagpipes and drums and which ultimately shows that Haggis and Bongs are keeping their music diverse and ultimately South African.

Fire in the Bowl if anything brings an originality and freshness to South African music. The sound of bagpipes and drums is not a common occurrence and offer a very different type of craftsmanship, artistically and musically. Haggis and Bong successfully create very interesting emotions and images with their album, in combining two very different instruments they create a musical clash which keeps the adrenaline flowing the feet dancing, combining an energetic highland swing with a good old heavy head mosh.

Musically, Fire in the Bowl is battle, brutally bloody or alternatively, brilliant. The instruments have been wielded and the music has been sung, it is now up to you, whether the battle is lost or won.

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