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Parker Prod CDPAKERPROD016

Formed in 1997, this is the fifth album release from Breton group Startijenn. Audibly influenced by developments to the contemporary music scene trailblazed by the Guichen brothers’ several ventures in particular, their compositions recognisably reflect and echo elements of their traditional folk music (such that the many local fest-noz dance forms are easily applied!) within a headily charged and powerful modern cocktail where rock, funk and jazz are all part and parcel.

The instrumental underpinning is a generally heavy rhythm section of electric bass (Julien Stévenin) and percussion (Kaou Gwenn) overlaid firstly with guitars (Tangi Oillo) and diatonic accordion (Tangi le Gall-Carré, whose jagged lines must owe something to Fred Guichen!) and secondly, and leading the instrumentally energetic charge, the traditional folk bombarde (Youenn Roue) and binioù (Lionel le Page). The vibrant living tradition in Brittany includes several other highly experienced progressive bands of a similar format (such as Titom, Plantec, etc.) that also gig all around the calendar at Breton festivals and dance events.

Quieter atmospheric interlude pieces (such as Momeder and Amsked), with a more acoustic ambience, add pleasing dynamic variety to the overall tightly interlocked soundscape that is studded with clever twists and turns and characterised by lots of riffs rich with punchy and funky syncopation that generate hooks of a compelling catchiness. These are skilled musicians, well befitting their group name (‘Energy’), perhaps more derivative than original within the complex genre genetics of contemporary Breton music, reasonably seeking further and wider world recognition.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.