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Alan Stivell - Terre Des Vivants / Bed An Dud Vew CD (album) cover


Alan Stivell


Prog Folk

3.83 | 11 ratings

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4 stars While not as bombastic as "A Celtic Symphony", "Terre Des Vivants" (Land of the Living) is more ambitious than most of Stivell's 1970s efforts. One track alone makes the album worth a look for progressive fans, "Beg Ar Van", a dirge like 9 minute monster in which Stivell is caught in a near-infinite loop of beseeching, accompanied by electronic keyboards, inventive and varied percussion, choirs and even saxophones and xylophones. Intensely rich and beautiful, it puts the often stiff Celtic tradition through a variety of demanding yogic poses, allowing it to emerge more flexible in mind and body.

Elsewhere, "Androides" is an all out rocking instrumental, brief but convincing. In addition to raucous lead guitars, the double bass work injects a more jazzy effect. In "Ideas", Stivell sings like a Breton Ian Anderson, shifting back and forth between his surprisingly comfortable rocker persona and his bardic muse. "Hidden through the Hills" sees Stivell backed by female singers in English, and, in the breaks, pipes and fiddles play off with the rhythm guitars, backed ably by surprisingly punchy percussion and bass. The series of short tracks that constitutes most of side 2 are breathtaking in their kinetic quality. By singing in several languages real and invented (as in "Q Celts Fiesta"), Stivell welcomes one and all to his big tent.

In 1981, "mainstream" progressive rock had all but given up the ghost, and the folk revival wasn't doing much better. But artists like Alan Stivell were comfortable within a broader range of musical styles, with pop or hard rock being just a couple. Because of his astute musical sense and unflinching artistic integrity, Stivell remained a force through this difficult time, and "Terre Des Vivants" deserves extra kudos for its role.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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