Alan Stivell no longer Explores
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Alan Stivell's Explore is a drifty affair, full of electronic backbeats and rolling, directionless melodies...

cd cover Alan Stivell
Keltia III

Stivell's new one is a drifty affair, full of electronic backbeats and rolling, directionless melodies. The veteran Breton harpist can't seem to decide if he wants to dabble in hip-hop or waft away in the New Age aether on this one. Melody lines are sketchily defined, then abandoned altogether. The innovative harping for which he's known is almost an afterthought here, as all is abandoned in service to the groove. He does do a bit of aimless solo harp wandering on the title track, but it's nothing for the memory books. While there's a lot of colorful experimenting with timbres and textures, the songs are not strong enough to stand up to the tonal onslaught. His heart is in the right place - the messages of world peace and respect for the earth are unassailable. It's just that his passable voice and the incohesive melodies don't draw the listener in for the lesson. The spacey "Druidic Lands" (doesn't that title say it all?) is a clichéd wash of synth, harp arpeggios and soporific, drony vocals. He tries to get down and bluesy with "They," an overlong rock/rap number with crunchy guitars and a cannonball backbeat.

Stivell cops out at the end by reprising the monotonous opening track "Miz Tu," this time with a scratchy beat and a hint of dub-style mix. Stivell has shown over more than four decades that he's a deft musician and a fearless innovator. Unfortunately, this one feels a little aimless and thrown together. Let's hope he gets back on track with the next one. - Peggy Latkovich

Listen to "Miz Tu"

CD available from cdRoots

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