France, 1985, Breton Celtic folk / progressive folk

GwerzGwerz

Though most of the CD booklet liner notes are in French, the band throws us English-speaking dogs a couple pages of English explanation of these traditional Breton Celtic folk tracks, namely how these songs are living narratives that come to life again with each re-listening, how music is a living and immortal history that reaches across boundaries, making cultural differences irrelevant. Like the best folk, this recording features acoustic guitar, violin, and upright bass, and like any Breton Celtic folk, it features the bagpipes, specifically the Breton version known as the biniou, as well as the bombarde, a kind of Breton woodwind equivalent of a trumpet, at least in its powerful sound. The band and album names refer to the “gwerz”, basically a Breton Celtic lament, a ballad of tragic storytelling. The focus here is certainly on the narrative, and the instrumentation, though present and beautiful, is not overdone and never drowns out the vocals. Death and love, my friends. Like all good folk, this album is wrapped up in these two themes.

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