Bugel Koar - Nebaon!
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cd cover Bugel Koar
Nebaon!
An Naer (www. an-naer.com)

With so much music around us, sometimes one can easily get a feeling of either déjà-vu or boredom. In reality, of course, every recording has its own particular character. This is what I felt about Nebaon! On first blush it seems very close to many others in the traditional Breton repertoire, yet it is so different. In this case, the revelation is in the lyrics - the words exhibit a wicked sense of playfulness, irony and sarcasm that in lesser hands might have appeared crass.

Bugel Koar are Marthe Vassallo on lovely, honey-dipped vocals and Philippe Ollivier on all sorts and sizes of bandonéon, accordion, accordina and samples. They pull off a difficult game with the aid of a remarkable trilingual package of excellent Brezhog, French and English translations. It is a tactile feast full of little pockets and covers.

Listen!
You have to respect a band that not only combines traditional songs with modern originals, fascinating tales of self-doubt ("Ha hirie 'h eo?" - is today the day I shall be seen, betrayed, judged, lost, make a mistake, be wounded, be lost?), knife-throwing ("Ar c' hontilli"), human stories from Auschwitz ("Al lutig") and tales of young men lost in the sea ("Martoloded kemper-gwezenneg"). "Marc'hadour" (The shopkeeper) is a favorite, with its wares of wolves, floods, fires, leprosy, cruel kings, bad reputations and "anguish that you could even pass on to your children." The delightful "Polka ar gwall-vrud" (Bad reputation polka) is the sorrowful tale of a man unable to get a bad reputation despite his "farting, spitting, gossiping, claiming to have slept with the mayor's wife, daughter and son-in-law, running over kittens and eating dogs, poisoning half the neighbourhood and going to Mass naked. Everything I do meets with the community's approval."

Interspersed among these farces are more serious subjects of wider social appeal: a minimalist yet perfect story of xenophobia, "Bez 'zo" (It does exist - a brief 46 seconds), "Chom" (Staying) with its lyrics about lovers leaving, the poem "Me 'mo" (My way) in which the perfect world is built out of sheer will and self-invention, and "Son an hanternoz" (Midnight song), an insomniac's hymn about the magic of staying up when everyone else is fast asleep. The record comes to an end with a trilogy of great songs. "Comme nous... Rond de St. Vincent" features a live chorus supplied by the audience at their concert at the Parthenay Festival, "Amourouzien menez bre" (A Love Song) and the pensive "Ar rinier" (The River).

Nebaon! doesn't break new musical ground but rather relies on the bread and butter of the current Breton musical scene. I am pretty sure that live they would be a truly memorable act, one of those bands that leave you spellbound and with a huge smile on your face. It is their incisive and interesting lyrics that get them a high recommendation - people who have such a good handle on the absurdity of life should go on making records and producing ideas and letting all of us, the ones who sleep at midnight, gain insights into life. Bugel Koar potently relays stories about Everyman's emotions and anguish better than any pitch-perfect, soulless band ever could. - Nondas Kitsos

The band's web site: www.bugelkoar.com

CD available from cdRoots


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