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BOF!  - Bal

BOF! - Bal
Treewind Music TWD016

This is the fourth album by this East Anglian group offering a wide range of song and dance music from Brittany and Central France.

Paddy Butcher (hurdy-gurdies, melodeon, percussion, vocals), Simon Haines (melodeons, bandoneon, vocals), Phil Lyons (acoustic guitar, bass, percussion, vocals) and Val Woollard (bagpipes, recorders, flute, desk bells, saxophone) are augmented by some vocal contributions from their ‘feature’ guest Gwendal Moele from the Morbihan department of Brittany.

The Breton material includes dance tunes, such as kas a-barh and Vannetais ridées six temps, with some kan ha diskan (call and response) singing, commonly used to accompany dance there, to which M. Moele’s presence certainly adds authenticity. The Central French material includes bourrées, a valse musette song (associated with Piaf and Lucienne Delyle), a mazurka song and tune from the hurdy-gurdy player in the Auvergne group La Chavannée and waltzes from trio D’ici Danse.

Collected and learnt from evident absorption in the live traditional music scene en France, playing this material is an undoubted passionate labour of love; amateur in the true sense. However, it does generally fall short of replicating (as I presume to be their intention) the rhythmic sparkle and fizz, for example, that makes Breton dance music so infectious and mesmeric. The material from elsewhere, characteristically rich in hurdy-gurdy, is perhaps more convincing but would also, likewise, benefit from some more sonic clarity and crispness, especially in the lower register.

So, worthily spirited in motivation, but always to some degree (and not at all unusual in this respect) somehow recognisably more English than Breton/French!

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.