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PHILOMÈLE - Une Histoire De Famille

PHILOMÈLE - Une Histoire De Famille
Private Label 5/2016

A family band from the Charente-Aquitaine region of western France, playing for themselves and their friends - so why would you be interested? Well, because they're actually rather good - and this CD was made 2 years ago by the look of things, so they're probably even better now. Most of Une Histoire De Famille is dance music, although slower pieces predominate - waltzes, mazurkas, a traditional French slow polska which is a first for me, and a slow Schottische. There are even a couple of Playford dances, although these are among the quicker numbers, along with bourrées, gavottes, an "avant deux" and a "chapelloise" which are both old French social dances that had me turning to Google.

Whether relaxed or up-tempo, Philomèle's music is light and flowing. They twirl through a set of traditional Morvan 3/4 bourrées, and that avant deux from Poitiers is positively saucy on sax. Olivier's Ol' Pamasoleti has some darker tones, a touch of acoustic rock in the guitar and fiddle, while his gavotte En Chausson combines stately dance with a sense of mischief. Nine of the 14 tracks here are Philomèle compositions: Marielle and Thierry Charrier share the credits with their son Olivier and with multi-instrumentalist uncle/cousin/in-law Patrick Labarde. I'm guessing at the family relationships, obviously. Daughters Sophie and Laetitia aren't credited with any compositions here, but their fiddle, cello, sax and piano are instrumental in the family sound. The whole CD is instrumental, in fact - not a word spoken or sung - and with Olivier's guitar and banjo, Marielle's melodeons, and extra fiddle from Thierry, there's plenty of variety to fill over an hour. If you're passing by Rochefort or Angoulême, seek out Philomèle. They are also on Facebook.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.