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Diatonic accordionist Fred Guichen has, with guitarist brother Jean-Charles, been part of the several Frères Guichen ventures (Ar Re Yaouank and their four subsequent collaborative releases) that have been enormously influential in the contemporary and progressive development of Breton music.

Both have also had several solo projects. This is Fred’s third release and features a stellar cast of guests including Jacques Pellen (guitars), Sylvain Barou (wooden transverse flute, uilleann pipes), Sylvaine Guichen (violin), Erwan Moal (guitars) and Dónal Lunny (bouzouki, guitar, bodhrán) with others contributing some bombarde, biniou, banjo, mandolin and Scottish bagpipes. The 14 original instrumental compositions (with a new – nevez – interpretation of Radiation from the magnificent Guichen Quartet album, Mémoire Vive) are said to have been metaphysically inspired by the shaping of place through the several imprints of nature and human culture.

Distinctively, indeed easily, recognisable by certain specific signature forms of ornamentation and styling throughout his recorded oeuvre, Fred is an exceptionally expressive and inventive player and the music here is, characteristically and unsurprisingly, richly varied. There are Frères fusion type progressive pieces, charged with intricately fluent patterning, complex movement and syncopation and mesmeric music echoic of the fest noz dance and its aura of trance. Then there are emotively moving solo pieces and some hauntingly delightful Celtic folk and jazz inflected duo and trio dialogues with guitars, wooden flute and fiddle. At times these skilled interwoven arrangements realise a profound musical grace and create something comparable with the contemplative, magical and filmic soundscape qualities of the Tweed/Alakotila May Monday projects.

Kevin Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.