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Dan Ar Braz - Héritage des Celtes CD (album) cover


Dan Ar Braz


Prog Folk

2.40 | 6 ratings

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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.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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