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Aremorica Records AR001

So, you like contemporary flute virtuousity? Flook, Michael McGoldrick, etc? Well from Brittany, in addition to the brilliant Jean-Michel Veillon, M. Barou is the other essential flautist sidesman of choice who must be on your radar!

Contributor to an array of recorded material, projects and world festivals linked to the Breton scene and Ireland especially (and including, more recently, the ‘supergroup’ Guidewires), he’s the embodiment of l’interceltisme influenced and inspired too, like several other innovative Celtic players, by the music of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and beyond.

All this is amply reflected in this eponymous all instrumental debut release. Over five years in recording, it features a galaxy of over 20 great players from Brittany (guitarists Gilles le Bigot and Jacques Pellen, bassists Julien Stevenin and Alain Genty for example), Ireland (Dónal Lunny, John Doyle, Liz Carroll, Paul McSherry) and elsewhere (French-Iranian percussionist Keyvan Chemirani and leading exponents of the lyra, tabla and oud).

Traditional rearrangements of Celtic source material rub shoulders with compositions of Sylvain et ses amis. Rhythmic complexity and syncopation are touchstones but never at the expense of melody. Exhilarating and energetic, the music generally melds the rhythmic and hypnotic quality of the fest noz with wider world influences adding to the corpus of sophisticated crossover music emanating from Brittany and Scotland in particular.

The flute work is intricately interwoven into the rich tapestry of the 13 pieces that feature some excellent contributions from the other, often instantly recognisable, players. With few gentle and restful passages, the overall output is for sure pretty full on, vivid and vigorous! So, crank up the volume, loosen your limbs, and enjoy!

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 93 of The Living Tradition magazine.