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NOVAR - Starling 

NOVAR - Starling 
Trad Records TRAD007 

Nine original tracks feature on this album by the dance-orientated Belgian/French quartet: Aurelian Clarnbaux (accordion), Jeroen Geerinck (keyboard/mandola), Toon van Mierlo (bagpipes) and Thierry Nouat (hurdy-gurdy).

The sound-world of the CD has something in common with the Blowzabella classic Vanilla, although Novar plough a somewhat narrower furrow, sometimes incorporating textures (and a bass drum effect) redolent of contemporary electronic dance music. I confess to being pleased that the bass drum sound was not present throughout, but Novar certainly know how to do an up-tempo number.

One of the things that is intriguing about the CD is that, on repeated listens, the faster dance tunes seem to become less prominent in the balance of the album. This indicates that the subtleties take a while to sink in – and it also raises the question of what proportion of the repertoire present is used in the dance context. To take the excellent Du Pop A Ars as an example – the music is in multiple sections, not all of which seem obviously dance-friendly. It’s not the only track (none of which is especially long) to have a multi-sectional structure; this suggests that the album might have been put together with more of an emphasis on listening rather dancing than was apparent at first.

The album is relatively short at 33 minutes but it’s very enjoyable, as well as being a recording that reveals more the more you listen to it.

Paul Mansfield


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine