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Alan Stivell - Trema'n Inis / Vers L'ile CD (album) cover


Alan Stivell


Prog Folk

2.40 | 11 ratings

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2 stars The contrast between "Vers L'Ile" (Towards the Island) and the prior "E Langonned" is marked, with only the primarily acoustic instrumentation and the harp binding them to each other across a short two year span. Here Stivell has attempted to translate and interpret ancient Breton poems; he notes that the musicality of the texts actually makes the transition better than the literal meanings. As if to highlight this point, he often speaks rather than sings.

The 16 minute "Hommes liges des talus en transe" is the centerpiece, and much of it consists of Stivell speaking emphatically over his plucking. Comparisions can be drawn to the more melodramatic prog acts of the day. I have also wondered whether he did not influence a number of prog bands. One of these is German act ANYONE'S DAUGHTER during their "In Blau" period, during which they included more acoustic instrumentation and a suite entitled "Tanz und Todd" featuring a similar narrative style. Germany is known to have quite a following for several Celtic bands where they are sometimes better known than in their native land.

The importance of these texts being what they are, and the prog fan's interest in more musical development, make most of this material of limited interest, as most other tracks are short and slow moving, meaning that not much really happens from our perspective. "An eur-se ken tost d'ar peurbad" is a case in point, ranging in tempo from slow to on hiatus and back again. "Negro Song" suffers from similar pitfalls but benefits from a darker more menacing tone and a more bluesy delivery.

While Stivell deserves credit for taking a chance here, it's really a toss up between 2 and 3 stars, and I am rounding down because it mostly fails to hold my attention any more than poetry class ever did. Interesting yes, but not likely to be on many listeners' desert island list.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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