We got again 4 stars for our “B” album in Songlines current issue, again! I guess… we can celebrate, right?
It’s a great honour not only to get a really good review in fRoots current issue (available from today for subscribers, on sale on the 20th), but also we got chose among “album choices of the month playlist”
The review for our first album in 2013 came like a surprise, we had never played in the UK, were not distributed, had got actually absolutely no review in France, it felt really like a recognition for us. For our album B, we weren’t sure fRoots would like it, it’s much darker, and rock. Yet they still recognized that it is nothing but 100% traditional Breton music, and this is truly a very nice surprise again!
The first review from our album is out, and we’re pretty sure it will bring us loads success! If you have time to read it carefully, you’ll probably find out a few things about our music – just like we did. Yes! Believe it or not, it feels odd, but it’s as if the reviewer knew more about us than we do… 😉
[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Brittany is a region of France which thanks to Astrakan Project, I have now researched in depth. I’ll give you the bare bones description: five regions, two native dialects and more history across it’s territory than my own country could ever hope to attain. Nearly everyone in the ancient world passed through, from the Romans to tribes and clans so obscure that time has erased all traces of them. Almost. For their second album, Simone Alves and Yann Gouvril have tracked down some truly remarkable songs from ages long gone, gilding them with music which only they could make. The level of accomplishment is high, the benchmarks have been exceeded and in their place new ones have been born.
This pair have, since their inception, continually striven to deliver as they say “music from beyond our world” and continue…
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We just got a copy from the sequence made about our album on radio RBI last spring about our project. It’s short, you already know our music, you know what it is about, you’ll recognise when our names are mentioned, so you can give it a try, listen to some Breton language :
Here is the complete review we got in Songlines issue n.93 last July. We’re extremely proud to have been reviewed in such a prestigious review… and even got 4 stars **** !
Tales of dark romance and doomed love
This album has nothing, as far as one can tell, to do with the town on the Caspian Sea or hats. The core of this album is enjoyably gloomy traditional Breton singing, from the pure voice of Simone Alves with her partner Yann Gourvil in charge of instruments and programming. The duo’s songs are peppered with Celtic myth and legends, but mainly about doomed love and death. A sample lyric, translated from the Breton, as a lover decides to kill himself after his beloved dies « We’ll lie in the same grave since we haven’t in the same bed, we’ll be married in front of God since we haven’t by the priest. » What is unusual, and probably unique is the « oriental » colours added to the songs (the duo lived in Istanbul for a while) with Yann Gourvil playing oud and saz as well are more usual folk instruments.
Stand-out tracks include « 1932 », which is an effective evocation of the misery of a failed harvest when there’s no bread, while « mouezhioù » sounds a little Bulgarian and is an atmospheric song about a woman who bitterly regrets marrying a drunkard. The electronics used on songs like « Kreñv ‘veld ar garantez » are generally subtly interwoven although at time the drum machines stands out, and not in a good way. By the end of this compelling, if at times slightly claustrophobic, record there is a slight sense that some other players would have added a more rich sonic palette. Still, there are some superb songs rendered in an original way, which suggests considerable potential. The cover Art Work is intriguing too.
Track to try : 1932
SIMONE ALVES & YANN GOURVIL Astrakan Project Carga 015
Sometimes I get hoist by my own prejudices and preconceived ideas. So it was that I glanced at the back of this album, noted the legend “A colourful and delicate oriental shine over wild Celtic music”, and the dread vision of Loreeena Newage materialised. And so it festered unplayed in the ‘oh f*** do I really have to listen to this?’ pile on my desk for several weeks, until we were just about to go press with this issue.
Don’t do that at home. Should a copy of this CD appear in your letterbox, hopefully because this review may have alerted you to it, seize it and put it in your player straight away. You will not be disappointed.
For ‘Celtic’, do not read ‘wifty-wafty-synthy-twee’, but instead gloriously full-throated, truly inspiring Breton singing and melodies from Simone Alves. For ‘a colourful and delicate oriental shine’, read ‘roaring, intricate, fiery, imaginative accompaniments’ from multi-instrumentalist Yann Gourvil on oud, electric saz (or baglama as the Turks call it), violin and programmed percussion.
Indeed, for ‘oriental’, don’t read ‘Far East’ as we Brits tend to use it, but ‘from the Eastern reaches of the Mediterranean’. It’s the sort of production that wouldn’t sound out of place on the better contemporary Turkish roots records – it turns out that they’ve lived and studied in Istanbul for the past few years – and it’s obviously a close relative to what Kristi Stassinopoulou & Stathis Kalyviotis did with Greekadelia. In fact I’d christen it Breton-Turkadelia if I hadn’t run out of credit in the ‘name a genre a day’ fund.
When I hit them up for a copy of the biog that this maltreated review copy had obviously got separated from, I found that they were involved in one of the sainted Erik Marchand’s inspiring projects that included Ross Daly, Thierry ‘Titi’ Robin and Keyvan Chemirani. That makes complete sense, and they are justifiably spoken of in the same breath as those iconic names. And if that doesn’t get you people who know about that sort of thing reaching for your credit cards, I don’t know what will.
A truly fabulous, spirit-raising album.
• astrakanproject.comIan Anderson
A short review from our album in the Belgian magazine Le Canard Folk (for printed May edition… It’s rather positive ! Says something like:
“warmth, fullness, richness, energy, […] fusion seems perfectly natural after the first surprising impression”
Hopeful, this nice impressions will lead us to some live shows?
What ? Yes, of course the release will only be on the 30th. But, in the meantime we are testing the on-line BandCamp forms to order, together with the paypal system, checking how long it really takes us to get threw the all procedure, fixing the order notification, the automatic replies and so on. We are really new to this, so we really wanted to make sure ones the sales will be launched, we won’t have to come back to solve this kind of details. And ? So far it works perfectly !
Meanwhile, a little amount of albums have also been sent for promoting the album itself as well as to apply to some venues. This will also give us an idea about how long it really takes for one piece of CD to be shipped from Turkey to other countries.
Since we are into form and data-bases, we also got a nice on-line form to sign in for our newsletter. If you sign-in you get a free mp3 from Tri Martolod an Oriant, you’ll get updates on the project, but also to special releases, to work in progress tunes, to promos & more. We’re repeating it again, not more than once a month. Pour les francophones, la version sera un peu “rallongée” pour reprendre des news développées au fil du blog en anglais.
Last but not least, we decided to re-invest the benefit from our first sale into this artist. Sofia Talvik is Swedish, and she’s organizing herself her 2 years tour threw the US, called the Drivin’ & Dreaming tour. We were very impressed by her story that we discovered in this very interesting for CD Baby. And… of course we’d like to tour in the US !
That’s all for now, thank you for reading !
We were very happy to read a review about our music on Incognito’s blog here :
(even if you already know about us, take a few minutes to have a look around this very interesting music blog, there’s quite a couple of unusual and non-main-stream musics to discover there )
Of course, it’s always nice when someone takes time to listen to us, and give feedback. But also, it answered many questions we always wonder about. “Is it a problem if people don’t understand our language ?” “Is our music interesting enough so that it can interest people outside our home country ?” “How do people feel about it ?”
Any thoughts about that ?