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Comments for Stivell, Alan, Legende

A bit of a hybrid this one. Most of the first half consists of a soundtrack for a Breton film, where besides a reworking of a traditional ballad Stivell experiments with deliberately non-Celtic styles (some Japanese influences, among others). The result is interesting and at times haunting, but also somewhat tedious, as soundtracks minus their film tend to be. A reworking of the Jenny''s Chicken reel is a clever little harp piece with some edgy experimental harmonies, and in The Voyage of Bran he sets a Middle Irish poem convincingly to a hypnotic rhythmic (rowing?) chant. The second half of the album consists of sound pictures evoking selected incidents from Celtic mythology. Much of Stivell''s output comes over as a deliberate Celtic awareness-raising educational programme, and true to form Stivell here promotes Celtic tales as an essential part of our heritage which should echo within us more readily than the tales of Greeks or Romans. Propaganda aside, however, some of this music - harp at the forefront - is stunning. Some tracks repeat their theme once too much, but a track like The Dream of Angus is so rich it demands several listens. The Pact magically combines upbeat rhythm with an extraordinary melancholy, and the closing experimental Ninth Wave is a flowing stream of interwoven riffs and loops, beguiling but too brief as it drowns in advancing ominous chord progressions on keyboards. The album is not as immediately appealing or accessible as Stivell''s best, but it is intriguing and pleasantly low-key. The impression is that of Stivell taking time out to pursue some of his own interests (pace the pedagogical intent expressed in the sleevenotes), setting himself new targets, new adventures, but not too concerned whether we follow him or not.
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