Steve Turner and David Faulkner
Sargasso Sounds EELCD07

The combination of pipe reeds with free reeds can sometimes be an uneasy one, harmonically or otherwise. Here, however,  David Faulkner’s  Swayne-made Border pipes (in G, D and C) and Steve Turner’s piano accordion sit together more or less as comfortably as suggested by the album’s cover image of the two of them trading tunes by the fireside.
Both musicians are members of the well-established English band the Eel Grinders, and the engagingly mellow instrumental sound generated here, while including tunes associated with the Scottish and English Border country, as well as traditional and contemporary material from further south, reflects that group’s interest in English and French dance music.
The album opens with a spirited rendition of the well-known Border 3/2 hornpipe Mount your Baggage followed by the lesser known Dukes of Buccleuch (who were, of course, patrons of LBPS icon Geordie Syme; how might he have played it?).
The accordionist’s eponymously titled Mr Turner’s Hornpipe, to this reviewer’s ears at least, opens with echoes of Wee Totum Fogg but becomes increasingly “Frenchified” in a nicely paced duet. I particularly enjoyed the appealingly titled At the Brow of a Hill, gleaned from both The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle and Geoghegan’s  Tutor for the Pastoral Bagpipes (both mid-18th century sources), a suitably pastoral sounding air, and sweetly redolent of its song origins. Another weel-kent hornpipe, Lassie Gae Milk on My Cow-Hill, here described as “an English West Border air”, is nicely played, the accordion both echoing the pipe melody and adding some boisterous chording. 
There is a neat pairing of two jigs, the Lowland Scots Auld Goodman partnered with Faulkner’s own Any Second Now, while Sawney Dear, from 1823, is indeed, as the notes suggest, “quirky and rarely heard”.           
Elsewhere, I find the slowed up version of Gillan na Drover, which we’re used to hearing in jig time, just slightly drawn-out, though the subsequent Rugged Saylor is cheerful enough.
Lancashire Pipes turns out to be an engrossing equivalent of the “fox chase” type of descriptive tune so popular in Ireland, and is suitably rallying, full-tilt in the chase section and plangent in its keening, while Faulkner’s Where Rivers Meet has a wistful feel French to it before it accelerates nicely into a bal-musette-style waltz.
The album is brought to a jubilant close by the sudden fanfaring of Faulkner’s overdubbed trumpet in The Coleford March, Turner’s warm salute to his home village in Devon.

Jim Gilchrist
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