Llangres / Stura
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self released (www.llangres.com)

cd cover Stura is a mostly instrumental recording from Llangres, a quintet from Asturias, a coal-mining region of northern Spain, tucked between the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrican Mountains. The style is high-energy Celtic, the band's instrumental variety, featuring harp, flute, fiddle, and pipes, lending a compelling richness to the well-conceived medleys that dominate the album. Llangres excels on tight, fast tunes, but mesmerizes even on slower, more meditative pieces such as the title track. The band's wide talents hardly mandate guest musicians, but Stura benefits from them, especially vocalists Marta Elola and Xosé Ambás.

Stura jump-starts with "Ca la Zarramica," a medley beginning with a common-time muñera, a swirling jig with prominent bagpipe lead. "Ca la Piesca" begins with a gentle two-step featuring Yago Prado's lilting harp, with a sudden shift into a more direct and driven melody backed by flute and hand percussion. "Porcia" is a return to high energy, beginning with a quick common-time romp, fiddle and flute melody, Viriu Fernández' bodhran supplemented on percussion by Fernando Arias' darbuka and Manolo Durán's Asturian drum. The second tune in the medley features piercing pipes and guitar backing alternating between chords and accent notes, the medley ending so precipitously that you may fall off your chair. Marta Elola adds her strong, nasal vocal to "Deva," a quick 5/4 piece, fiddle and pipe breaks echoing both her melody and timbre; lyrics are provided in Spanish, but go by almost too quickly to follow.

The title track is a change of pace, a long narrative composition describing a river journey to the sea. Its slow intro, flute over delicate harp, develops into rolling harp and gentle percussion with a haunting flute melody. The amplitude of the rolling percussion increases as pipes join on a trancy melody, Héctor Braga's cello adding a somber note. Pipes over pretty harp on a quick waltz end the set.

"Viaxe a Lorient" begins with complex guitar flat-picking, melody picked up by mandolin and flute, developing progressive drive and speed as it moves into the second tune, "Fest Noz," a mandolin set piece, before ending with "La Boleé," in which flute steps out on a jazzy, articulate melody. Xosé Ambás' impassioned vocal is supported by a slow, stuttering harp-based waltz on "El Retornu," speeding into galloping choruses with dramatic effect, central break a flute-led wedding song with subtle percussion, harp providing unusual but lovely accompaniment to the vocal. Stura is lush, lively Celtic music from Spain, and Llangres' instrumental variety keeps the music in constant motion. - Jim Foley

Audio (p)(c)2002 Llangres, used by permission

CD available from cdRoots

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