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STARTIJENN - Paker Tour Live 

STARTIJENN - Paker Tour Live 

A live album from a Breton band that is as full of energy as their name suggests, this CD is generous in both quality and quantity at over seventy minutes. Startijenn's music is primarily for dancing, mainly couple dances, which leaves plenty of scope for uneven phrases and improvisation. Based around virtuoso bombarde and button box, with Breton biniou kozh at the top end, and electric bass at the bottom, Startijenn have a strong rhythm for dancing but also create a great concert sound here. Unmistakably Breton but full-on contemporary too, these guys have been around for two decades now and their live performances are highly polished. Paker Tour Live was recorded at festivals across Brittany in the summer of 2016, and the audience is clearly having a ball. (Sorry!)

Most tracks are relatively short for Breton dances, only four or five minutes. All the music is recently composed, by the band or other Breton musicans, and it follows the traditional Breton dance forms: dans plin, gavotte, hanter-dro, rond, fisel, ton simpl/doubl, ridée and others. It's powerful stuff, driving the dancers, weaving multiple melody lines for a very full sound. Some pieces are more like a rock band - Flagas Track for example - while others such as El Chaman Acto 2 sound more traditional. There's a flash French waltz in Vals Typhaine, an almost Ska beat to El Chaman Acto 1, and a high-octane jig in the punishing Paker Nozter. The opening Skeud is a big number at almost nine minutes, a real showpiece, and Startijenn finish with three long tracks including their encore Hir Hir Ton Doubl which definitely rocks the Breizh bar. Party music Breton style, Paker Tour Live hits the spot and hits it hard.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 118 of The Living Tradition magazine.