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DAN AR BRAZ

Prog Folk • France


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Dan Ar Braz biography
Born in Quimper, France on January 15, 1949, guitarist Dan Ar Braz is one of Brittany's most influential and internationally successful recording artists. While his musical lineage is decidedly celtic, during his long career he has fused the tradition with a variety of contemporary styles and even diverged into other territories such as jazz and acoustic folk, while retaining an unerring melodic gift and sense of place.


At the age of 18 he encountered the legendary Breton harpist ALAN STIVELL who provided him with a solid grounding in modern vs ancient music but also with a career boost, and Ar Braz eventually played guitar on no less than 7 Stivell albums in the 70s, including many of his most venerable recordings such as "Renaissance de la Harpe Celtique" and "Concert a L'Olympia". In 1976 he briefly joined FAIRPORT CONVENTION although he did not record with them. In 1977 he embarked on his solo career already a seasoned veteran, and produced a stunning instrumental progressive folk epic "Douar Nevez" to kickstart this new phase.


The 80s were a darker period for the folk rock revival, but Ar Braz kept busy and self-produced a number of quality efforts showcasing his prowess with all manner of guitar including "Acoustic" and "Septembre Bleu". In the 90s he assembled a cast of hundreds for a serious of smash successes under the banner of "Heritage Des Celtes" which occupied the man and many a bean counter for most of that decade. He has since returned to more intimate solo work, and he continues to record regularly and make live appearances including at FAIRPORT's Cropredy Festival.


Recommended to fans of the above named artists, MALICORNE, JOHN RENBOURN, as well as those who enjoy the more celtified efforts of MIKE OLDFIELD or even MARK KNOPFLER.

Dan Ar Braz official website

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Made in BreizhMade in Breizh
Tinder 2002
Audio CD$6.64
$1.49 (used)
FinisterresFinisterres
Import
Sony Bmg Europe 1997
Audio CD$13.55
$4.84 (used)
Heritage des CeltesHeritage des Celtes
Import
Sony
Audio CD$9.61
$6.70 (used)
Dan Ar Braz Et Les 50 Musiciens De L'HerDan Ar Braz Et Les 50 Musiciens De L'Her
Import
Columbia Europe 1995
Audio CD$10.56
$4.81 (used)
Les Perches Du NilLes Perches Du Nil
Import
Columbia Europe 2007
Audio CD$4.78
$3.89 (used)
Theme for the Green LandsTheme for the Green Lands
Import
Keltia Musique 1994
Audio CD$58.26
$21.64 (used)
Dan Ar Braz: ZenithDan Ar Braz: Zenith
Import
Sony Bmg Europe 2003
DVD$17.06
$19.37 (used)
Xavier Grall Sings With Dan Ar BrazXavier Grall Sings With Dan Ar Braz
Import
Keltia Musique 1996
Audio CD$15.63
$40.05 (used)
AcousticAcoustic
Import
Green Linnet 2006
Audio CD$22.95
$14.99 (used)
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DAN AR BRAZ discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DAN AR BRAZ top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.79 | 11 ratings
Douar Nevez
1977
3.69 | 4 ratings
Allez Dire a La Ville
1978
3.20 | 6 ratings
The Earth's Lament
1979
3.86 | 3 ratings
Acoustic
1981
2.17 | 4 ratings
Musique pour les silences à venir
1985
2.05 | 2 ratings
Septembre Bleu
1988
3.00 | 1 ratings
Songs
1990
3.00 | 2 ratings
Borders of Salt
1991
3.00 | 1 ratings
Reve de Siam
1992
2.14 | 3 ratings
Theme for the Green Lands
1994
2.23 | 3 ratings
Héritage des Celtes
1994
4.50 | 2 ratings
Heritage des Celtes - Finisterres
1997
2.00 | 2 ratings
La mémoire des volets blancs
2001
3.05 | 2 ratings
A Toi et Ceux
2003
3.00 | 1 ratings
Les Perches du Nil
2007

DAN AR BRAZ Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Heritage Des Celtes En Concert
1995
4.00 | 1 ratings
Heritage des Celtes - Zenith
1998

DAN AR BRAZ Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

DAN AR BRAZ Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Les Îles de la mémoire
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Xavier Grall chanté par Dan Ar Braz
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Made in Breizh
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Celtiques
2003

DAN AR BRAZ Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Anne de Bretagne
1983

DAN AR BRAZ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Héritage des Celtes by AR BRAZ, DAN album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.23 | 3 ratings

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Héritage des Celtes
Dan Ar Braz Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars Due to his early involvement with ALAN STIVELL and FAIRPORT CONVENTION, DAN AR BRAZ had always been associated with Breton music and, by association, with the broader Celtic community. Yet if one examines his solo output, it becomes clear that he is far from musically monogamous. From acoustic folk to progressive rock to contemporary instrumental, his eminences have been more infused with the Celtic than subjugated by it, and there is a difference. This is one of several reasons why his "Heritage des Celtes" series leaves me nonplussed.

True, the 1990s were the faux era of Celtic revival, with bromidic bloated productions trotted out ad infinitum. Sure, the Irish dancing was a delectation, but it tended to work more effectively at small scale concerts where it wasn't shamelessly on display, but rather garnished the performance, as by artists like the RANKIN FAMILY and BARRA MACNEILS, to cite a few Canadians. But I digress. I don't think the basis of AR BRAZ' studio and live collaborations under this moniker was the dancing, but it does appear to be capitalizing on the success of these mega productions. It also hands the arguably more canorous Breton tradition the short end of the stick, which might be excusable if the music wasn't the most homely blend of glossy contemporary and, well, glossy traditional. It is not at all saved by the production of DONAL LUNNY or vocals of KAREN MATHESON. In fact the latter might actually hurt, as by 1994 she was already morphing into ENYA for the mildly caffeinated.

Still, this first installment of AR BRAZ' most profitable enterprise does yield some pleasures that do not require subsequent cleansing, chiefly those Gaelic numbers presumably sung by one Yann-Fanch Kemener, not coincidentally a traditional singer from Brittany. For the more upbeat, there is the skirling rush of "Green Lands". "April 3rd" sounds more like MOVING HEARTS than anything, not surprisingly given the production of Mr Lunny. And yes, "ElizIza" is a subliminally creeping beauty.

So, while all is not lost, I would not counsel this surprisingly apocryphal recording to any newcomer to DAN AR BRAZ, Celtic music, or especially Breton music. But I suppose that committed fans of this type of project, especially those with no deceased finger wagging relatives of Celtic heritage, could lend this an ear, preferably while revellng in household chores.

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 A Toi et Ceux by AR BRAZ, DAN album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.05 | 2 ratings

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A Toi et Ceux
Dan Ar Braz Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars With the slick Elaine Morgan from Wales' answer to CLANNAD, ROSE AMONG THORNS on vocals on several tracks, and several languid instrumentals, this relatively recent effort by the Breton guitar master seems on paper like a cross between the worst of his 1980s new age efforts and the CORRS. Add in a collaboration with French pop superstar JEAN JACQUES GOLDMAN (of proggers TAI PHONG back in the day) and it doesn't bode well. Yet, one is compelled to listen between the straight lines of these constraints to appreciate the magically twisted trajectory that continues to represent DAN AR BRAZ.

If one is not paying enough attention, this might not resonate until the final triumph "Bretagnes", at which point one may return to other signposts - the instrumental prowess of "Les Tribus de Cornouaille", the romantic vision of "Je m'en vais demain" (sung by Goldman I believe), and the simple muse of "Mary's Dancing". He even reprises "Orgies Nocturne" which originally appeared on the excellent "Douar Nevez" from 1977, but sadly it seems a bit lost plucked out of context. In the end, even Morgan's contributions are not without their more whitewashed charms. While this one might be chiefly for fans, I don't think it is an automatic pass for others of sentimental ilk. 2.5 stars rounded up.

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 Douar Nevez by AR BRAZ, DAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.79 | 11 ratings

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Douar Nevez
Dan Ar Braz Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars One of DAB's better known albums, the debut Douar Nevez (New Territories) also happens to be his proggiest and more instrumental. Before that, the guitarist had been his fellow Breton folk buddy Alan Stivell's acclaimed guitarist for a few years. In his first few albums, DAB had some renowned studio acolytes, such as Dave Pegg, the Zeuhlish Benoit Widemann on keys, Emmanuelle Parrenin on the hurdy, and Molard on Celtic winds. Musically, much od DAB's early solo music can be likened to symphonic Celtic music, with less clichés than many of his other fellow Breton bards. One could almost liken him to some kind of early Mike Olfield (Omma-Ridge era), but with more integrity and less commercial drive. Recorded and released in 77 by the Hexagone record label, the front cover presents a very prog fantasy artwork that fits rather well with the music inside it.

Of course, this debut album may not be representative of his later works, but there is plenty of celtic folk, both in musical themes(with some ullean pipes, the ever-present jigs, etc..) and in the story/concept's inspiration (the lost city of Ys), so a lot of it can sound slightly cliché, but not repulsive. Indeed, much of the space is left open to AR Bras' excellent guitars (especially acoustic), some dreamy Widemann keyboards, and most importantly we get to avoid the usual kitschy narratives that usually come with this type of epic mythical subject. So to understand the plot (well reading the track titles already gives you a good hint), DAB included a famous Breton poet's explanation on the inner gatefold, but it doesn't give you a story line per se, either. All the better really! Easily my fave DAB work, Douar Nevez should be one of the first and best Celtic prog folk album to have in his shelves.

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 Douar Nevez by AR BRAZ, DAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.79 | 11 ratings

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Douar Nevez
Dan Ar Braz Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Born in 1949 as Daniel Le Bras,Dan Ar Braz is a French/Bretton guitarist,mostly known for his collaboration with Bretton Folk musician Alan Stivell,whose group he joined in late-60's.After spending eight years with Stivell,Dan Ar Braz moved to England and joined folk rockers Fairport Convention,with whom he spent a year in live performances,without recording any album though.In 1977 Dan returns to France and records his first solo output ''Douar Nevez'',material of which was written in England,while being a member of Fairport Convention.

With an all-star line-up featuring Benoit Widemann from Magma on pianos/organ/synths, Bretton musician Patrig Molard on flutes/bagpipes, bassist Dave Pegg from Fairport Convention and drummer Michel Santangeli from Malicorne,''Douar Nevez'' is a sweet journey into Acoustic Folk combined with OLDFIELD-ian electric compositions,creating dreamy soundscapes and often a cinematic nature.Dan Ar Braz'es unique style shines through,offering delicate acoustic crescendos and also electric outbursts,mixed either with Widemann pianos in a very Fusion-esque style or just delivering great chops in short tracks with organ and synths supporting.Yet the Bretton roots of the musician are always present,from the short instrumentals featuring Molard's grandiose bagpipes or elegant flutes to the acoustic passages with the atmospheric synths around.Definitely the album has a nice flow with a good alternation between mellow and more striking moments and Ar Braz being in a confident shape.

For those unmystified with the combination Folk and Rock music, ''Douar Nevez'' is a good introduction to the world of Contemporary Folk/Art Rock.Anyone into Alan Stivell's personal career should also approach,though this album has a more modern sound.Strongly recommended to all fans of good guitar-driven Art Rock musicianship...3.5 stars.

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 Allez Dire a La Ville by AR BRAZ, DAN album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.69 | 4 ratings

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Allez Dire a La Ville
Dan Ar Braz Prog Folk

Review by Lieven Van Paemel

3 stars Second album by Dan Ar Braz and with vocals this time. The lyrics are poems by Xavier Grall. There are some truly great songs here like the opener "Allez dire a la ville" (Go and tell the city). A wry resentment of the city in favor of the life in the countryside. "Suite Ecossaise" (Scottish Suite) is a very complex interaction between the Scottish bagpipes and the electric guitar.

My favorite songs are "L'amour Kerne", "Les Saisons" and "Plainte de Yann Vari Perror". The instrumental highlights here are the very sweet acoustic "Dimanche après-midi" (Sunday afternoo) and the beautifully constructed "L'Amour, Le Nucleaire et le Crépuscule".

Less mythic and less mystic than "Douar Nevez" but still very interesting.

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 Douar Nevez by AR BRAZ, DAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.79 | 11 ratings

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Douar Nevez
Dan Ar Braz Prog Folk

Review by Lieven Van Paemel

5 stars After his years with Stivell, Dan made his first solo album "Douar Nevez" (New Earth). From start to finish this is a masterpiece of progressive folk. To have an excellent bass player like Fairport Convention's Dave Pegg (Ar Braz had a short stint with the band), an excellent hurdy gurdy player like Emanuelle Parrennin, or Patrig Mollard on pipes, Benoit Widemann on keyboards, Michel Santangeli on drums and you know you have some of the crème de la crème of French prog folk.

From the start "Intro" to "Morvac'h" (seahorse) on side 1 and from "Orgies Nocturnes" to "Douar Nevez" one is in a world of reality and myth, of mirth and laughter to gloom and dispair. Especially beautiful are "L'ennui du Roi", "Mort et immersion de Malguen/Fin du voyage" and "L'appel du sage".

It is an album I still play often, I even kept the CD to play in the car.

For people who like this kind of music, Malicorne etc, a real must!!! This one and his second "Allez dire a la ville" (Go and tell the city).

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 The Earth's Lament by AR BRAZ, DAN album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.20 | 6 ratings

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The Earth's Lament
Dan Ar Braz Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Ar Braz' third album was by far his heaviest, featuring prominent rhythm guitars on some tracks, and only a couple of ballads. His celtic roots are certainly not abandoned, however, and the songs work best when they strut both his new physique and his inner beauty.

Even on his cover of Lennon-McCartney's "Rain", the Uillean Pipes predominate enough to render this more than just an oddly conceived remake. "To Rory" is an instrumental that benefits from lively interplay between some of his best leads and sprightly synthesizers, the latter contributed by Benoit Widemann of Magma. "Menez Du" trades synthesizers for bombarde and is even more aggressive. The closer and title cut is a lovely lamenting lead guitar figure backed by Patrick Audouin's electric piano. It comes off like a measured and deliberate contribution by Mike Oldfield, and is perhaps the highlight. The main weaknesses are in "Back to Life" and "Birds and Boats" that are simply hard rockers lacking the subtlety of the ancient art.

In his lengthy discography, Ar Braz has explored a number of paths both less and well trodden, often never to return. On "Earth's Lament", he comes closest to loud and brash, with mixed results, but, after his debut, this might be the place to start for the more grounded members of progarchives.

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 Musique pour les silences à venir by AR BRAZ, DAN album cover Studio Album, 1985
2.17 | 4 ratings

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Musique pour les silences à venir
Dan Ar Braz Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars By the mid 80s there wasn't much enthusiasm for either celtic or progressive music in the mainstream. But so called "new age" instrumental music was being lapped up by baby boomers who didn't want anything too challenging to upset their ostensibly laid back west coast lifestyle. Most of the more popular music in this genre sought first and foremost to be inoffensive, which is perhaps the biggest sin. The best of the style could be found in artists who tried to extract the essence of their own roots into a palatable stew, such as the delightful Nightnoise.

Dan Ar Braz luckily did not stick around too long as a new age artiste, because he fell into most of its trappings when he did. This is a bit too much like Will Ackerman, a talented guitarist who founded the quintessential new age label, Windam Hill records, and underachieved artistically. It sounds good but is mostly so much empty air, especially with the insipid synthesizers of "Thème pour Suzan", and in the two cuts that bracket the disk.

Ar Braz' advantage is that he is equally comfortable electrically and acoustically, and his lead guitar style can be like a bagpipe in all the best ways, as a lament without the whine, as in the Camel-lite "La Fille du Chemin Bleu", "Les Lamentations de la mer", and "La Véranda des jours sans Soleil", which seems like a dress rehearsal for the "Lecture de Conrad" theme from the "Reve de Siam" soundtrack.

In spite of its beautiful title, meditative quality, and Ar Braz' talent and feeling, "Music for the Silences to Come", is a 2.5 star effort, rounded down since it is unlikely to be of much interest here. For die hard fans and new age afficionadoes.

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 Allez Dire a La Ville by AR BRAZ, DAN album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.69 | 4 ratings

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Allez Dire a La Ville
Dan Ar Braz Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Ar Braz' followup to "Douar Nevez" which translates to "Go tell the city", is more song oriented, but still a logical extension of his progressive celtic explorations. His gravelly voice, normally matched with mellower acoustic backing in subsequent releases, is instead accompanied by harder guitars, bass and percussion. In fact, it comes across as having been schooled in the more dramatic Ange style, which, like Ange, sometimes works, sometimes not.

From the opener, we are flooded with urban sentiments to reflect the narrator who is leaving town and wants it known he will not be returning. This is one place where the marriage of uniquely 70s French prog and celtic music works wonders. The participation of the likes of Benoit Widemann and Francis Moze of Magma lend a certain free form fusion quality to the backings that elevate the songs above the pop pantheon. Ar Braz also disperses solid instrumentals that run the gamut from mellow and acoustic ("Dimanche Apres Midi") to celtic laments complete with pipes ("Farewell Bob Brown") and jazzy electric guitar excursions supported by Widemann's synth work and Moze's funky bass ("Les oiseaux et les électrons de Brenilis" and "L'amour, le nucléaire et le crépuscule").

At times this diverse work tries to be a bit too encompassing as in the pure celtic "Suite Ecossaise" or in the overly melodramatic "Requiem pour le jet", and a few of the ballads, while being pleasant, lack sufficient spark to really ignite the listening experience, but the album closes with one of his most heartfelt vocals in "Plainte de Yann Vari Perrot". While certainly not a progger's paradise, Ar Braz sophomore solo album is a unique effort boasting a variety of deftly integrated influences. It barely sounds dated, so for that I have no qualms adding a half star...and you can tell that to the city, from the rooftops.

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 Theme for the Green Lands by AR BRAZ, DAN album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.14 | 3 ratings

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Theme for the Green Lands
Dan Ar Braz Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars I admit to using personal bias when reviewing CDs for this website. If I think a CD is great and possesses a reasonable degree of progressive attitude, I endow it with 4 or 5 stars, depending on the degree to which it meets my subjective and unenumerated criteria. Some of my 5 star selections might be considered marginally progressive, yet when I put my prog hat on, I enjoy them. This allows considerable latitude in my rating scheme. But what I hope to avoid is giving an album a high grade because it seduces my non progressive side. Usually, if an album is on this site, no such conflict occurs. But, as we know, even the bands whose names are virtually synonymous with progressive rock have produced disks that have limited appeal to fans of the genre first, the band second. So why should a celtic artist with considerable prog leanings be immune to such forays? With "Theme from the Green Lands", Ar Braz produced a straightforward celtic album fairly busting out with all manner of pipes, and the usual characteristics of his sound are relegated to the background. Forgetting whatever value it may have as a musical summation, "Theme for the Green Lands" is too black and/or white to receive any recommendation on progarchives.

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Thanks to kenethlevine for the artist addition.

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