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AN LÁR - Deception 

AN LÁR - Deception 
Private Label 

You could be excused in thinking that Bern, Switzerland, is not at the centre of Celtic traditions. However, one exception is a quartet called An Lár (which actually means “the centre” in Irish Gaelic). The members spent over two decades touring and releasing five albums between 1994 and 2014. After a sabbatical, their sixth album came out in autumn 2019. They feature original music, inspired by the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland, though one can also note the European influences from places like Brittany and Asturias. They wield considerable skill on their wide range of instruments, from accordion and tenor banjo to fiddle and mandocello and beyond.

Six of the 10 tracks on this release are songs, all sung in English and all originals. They are each seasoned with tasty instrumental passages weaving throughout. There are songs about change – Bells is about the flooding of a community to build a reservoir, which focuses on the eerie sound of the belltower, now submerged. There is a ballad about a respected Edinburgh cabinetmaker who had a secret life as a thief (William Brodie). The humorous The Man Of The Bodhrán is about the disrespect suffered by folks who play certain kinds of percussion at sessions. The four instrumental tracks are all well-executed, nicely arranged, even complex in places. Standouts include the sinewy Gäbelbachiana and the aerobic TCC.

Clearly, with inspiration from relevant traditions along with great skill, Celtic music can blossom most anywhere.

Ivan Emke


This review appeared in Issue 135 of The Living Tradition magazine