Have you ever dream of a list of Breton music to listen to? Essentials that you could be introduced to ? Fascinated by breton fest-noz music and not knowing where to start from?
We’ve had the request quite often, and since we’re catching-up on all we postponed during Inês album recording and release, here it is: a WIP list of breton music that we like and that has influenced us. You can find the list on this section of tour web-site that we plan on up-dating regularly, as well as books recommended for artists, online ressources and links to the gear we use for music and video. But, without further due, let’s get in to the world of fest-noz and breton music:
Fest-noz & modern breton music
From late XXc – 80’s and 90’s power!
- Gwerz – musique bretonne (1997) a basic must have favorite of ours, with the amazing voice of the singer Erik Marchand from whom we learned a lot.
- Barzaz – An den Kozh Dal & Ec’Honder another essential from the 90′ with the beautiful voice of Yann-Fañch Kemener, the great guitar player Gilles Le bigot and our friend Hopy Hopkins on drums to name but a few. Previous albums have been put together recently as a re-edit.
- Skolvan – swing and tears (1996). Beautiful and pleasant fest-noz tunes, with a great sound. But Kerzh ba’N’Dans album is also great, or more recent productions such as Chenchet’n eus an amzer.
- Ar Re Yaouank – 3° acte (although most aficionados would refer to it as “the metal boxed one” – l’album dans la boitier métallique!) and also Breizh Positive and fest-noz still alive (1992). If you can put your hands and ears on any of these, do so, they are monuments of the fest-noz world in Brittany, and deeply influenced the fest-noz way of life. They split late 90′, but have occasionally re-formed for big events.
- Les Frères Guichen aka the Guichen Brothers – Dreams of Brittany Founders of the iconic Ar Re Yaouank fest-noz band, they have put out several duet projects since. With a modern touch.
- Pevar Den – fest-noz . As the title says! Easy pleasant fest-noz music. The band still performs if you’d like to experiment them live!
- Kornog – Korong – beautiful sound from the iconic band – and still available!
- Penou Skoulm – Breton Ballroom – this was Yann’s favorite when we met back in 1996. The combination of fiddle and Irish flute has profoundly influenced breton music for a few decades. Precious to understand some influences heard among plenty of fest-noz bands.
- Carre Manchot – again an iconic fest-noz band, active since… we can’t remember! Some members changed along the way, but they still play in Brittany and beyond, fantastic dancing music. Look up for them when you’re in Brittany. They’ve released quite some albums, most of the earlier ones aren’t to be found on the market, but they sometimes show up on second hand markets!
- Loened fall – an deizioù zo berr (the days are short…). A band active now for about 20 years, around a couple of kan ha diskan singers (Marthe Vassalo and Ronan Gueblez).
- Storvan – An dezhioù kaer . Good! Fest-noz what else!
From 00’s on
- Karma – fest-noz, fest-noz by the Diwan generation.
- Plantec – a band around two brothers, and in the beginning quite influenced by Ar Re Yaouank, then experimented also with some live electro.
Experimental, world, cross-over, others
- Bugel Koar – Ar solier, with the singer Marthe Vassalo. A very interesting project, with a lot of gwerz (breton type of lament) from Trégor (and we love gwerz from Trégor!). N’ebaon the second album by the duet is also really good. (and more likely to be available)
- Any album by/with Erik Marchand worth it! His collaboration with the french oud player Thierry Titi Robin in the 80’s: chants du centre Bretagne and An Tri Breur deeply and profoundly inspired and nourished our musical experiences. He’s also famous for his fusion world music with musicians from the Balkans. Our favorite ever is Pruna (although Unu, daou, tri easily available or Dor are totally worth it). Another favorite of ours is his collab with the french indie musician Rodolphe Burger which resulted in the unexpected album Before Bach.
- Norkst and Kreiz Breizh Akademi. It sounds weird to add an album in which we personally performed, but when it was released in 2005, it was quite a unique project, both artistic and pedagogic, upon an idea from Erik Marchand. The project still goes on with several albums released by different KBA bands, but Norkst being the very first one, it certainly would be the one to listen to as it opened the road to all the later ones. (let us know if you’d like us to elaborate on the project!)
- Au Café Breton by Rolland Becker and Regis Huiban. A project around breton music as played in the 20’s 30’s and influenced by Parisian accordion musette style (it has influenced a few fest-noz bands like Le Bour / Bodros )
- Jacques Pellen – Celtic Procession. A project that started in the 90’s, with loads of versions, guests, etc, but generally with a jazz flavour.
Gwerz, kan ha diskan and a-capella albums
- Tradition Chantée En Bretagne – Les Sources Du Barzaz Breiz Aujourd’Hui . More specialised, this is a collection of gatherings from the XXth century from songs that were previously to be found on the XIXc book “Barzaz Breizh”. Raw a-capella singing, but a treasure if you fancy authentic traditional style. The booklet is quite thick and very useful and contains all the lyrics with french translations.
- Kan ha Diskan by Loeiz Roparz. A collection of kan ha diskan with several singers and Loeiz Roparz, known to be the “inventor” of fest-noz in its actual form.
- Kan ha Diskan – Yann-Fañch Kemener. Kan ha diskan from Yann-Fañch Kemener with most of big names from the breton kan ha diskan scene, both old and new scene: Erik Marchand, Annie Ebrel, Patrick Marie, Valentine Colleter, Claudine Flohic, Marcel Guilloux, Ifig Troadeg. A must have!
- Fest-Noz en Poher. Not very often available, but pay close attention to the name and picture, so far there isn’t any re-edit, but if it at some point would show up on the second hand market, be quick! Simone has practically learned all the basics from Kan ha Diskan with this excellent very traditional album. Features gavotte from Annie Ebrel with Noluen Le Buhez (excellent and brilliant energy!), from Fustec/Le Corre and Les Frères Dilasser – both huge favorites and role models for kan ha diskan when Yann was a child (and also probably the only recording available from the Dilasser Brothers).
Enjoy, and let us know in the comment section if you have any request or suggestion!
Links are amazon affiliated, if you decide to buy any of these based on our recommendations, please, do use our links, you will pay the exact same price, but we’ll receive a little percentage that can help us producing more music and share more useful links.
Also, this list is based on our personal musical journey, on what made a difference to us, and also on our personal tastes! This ain’t meant to be a chart, or any “ultimate” listing! Get inspired, enjoy our story sharing, but create your own story and connection with breton music.