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VISHTÈN - Mosaïk

VISHTÈN - Mosaïk
Private Label PTVISH04

From Prince Edward Island and the windswept islands of Quebec, this trio blends Celtic and French influences with Canada's equivalent of Cajun music. There's accordion, fiddle and flutes. There's foot percussion. There's step-dancing. There's a couple of guests, but Vishtèn's core trio fill the acoustic space well enough on their own. This is album number four from these Acadian youngsters, and they just keep getting better. Mosaïk features six songs and six instrumentals - and in the way of Quebec bands the songs are often married with a tune or two. As the CD title suggests, this is a patchwork of styles, from Shetland to chansons, folk to funk, with great harmonies and bags of bass. Unusually for Canadian groups, the main singer is female: accordionist Pastelle LeBlanc leads four songs, while her sister Emmanuelle fronts the ballad of exile Le Printemps and fiddler Pascal Miousse sings the tragi-comic Le Vieux Pi La Vieille.

Instrumentally this is a class act. Vishtèn have all the bounce and bravado of Quebec music, plus the soulful melodies of the Acadian tradition. They also take inspiration from Scottish and Irish traditions: Shetland's Magical Bus could come from any contemporary Scottish band, and La Fougue Des Fées puts me in mind of McGoldrick or McSherry. In fact, almost all the tunes here are Vishtèn's own: all three members compose like crazy, and produce some wonderfully wild music. La Brunante is a nice example, fiddle sorcery inspired by the dramatic weather of PEI, beautifully written and played by Pascal who bends and shapes his notes to reflect the patterns of sea and sky. The pair of LeBlanc reels which follow show more of a modern Celtic influence, slightly breathy whistle and Cape Breton swing piano, still with that solid Acadian beat. Vishtèn finish with another twist of tradition, a native American story turned into a folk-country showpiece, full of backwoods atmosphere. All the pieces of Mosaïk fit together perfectly to produce a very colourful album. Check these guys out at - you won't be disappointed.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 96 of The Living Tradition magazine.