Érik Marchand et les Balkaniks - Pruna
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Érik Marchand et les Balkaniks
Le Chant du Monde

cd cover Breton singer Marchand has been dabbling in Balkan music for a little over ten years now. On this release he strikes a delicate balance between his native and adopted musical roots. While no one will ever mistake him for a Balkan singer - his voice has too much Gallic warble for that - he meshes his style well with that of this accomplished group of musicians from Romania, Moldavia, Serbia, and Turkey. He is joined by longtime collaborators Taraf de Caransebes from Romania. Moldavian cimbalom player Alexei Ciobanu contributes some hyperspeed, rippling solos.

The ethnic push-pull between Breton horn player Gabriel Kerdoncuff's bombarde and Romanian Constantin Olan's taragot combined with crossover instruments such as accordion, violin, and clarinet makes for a surprisingly cohesive blend. To spice things up even further, they throw in a little Portuguese fado with "Talvoudegez Ar Feiz (The Price of Faith)," written by guitarist Carlos Parades. Of course, they run the thing through the free rhythm of a Romanian doina and the driving beat of a Hungarian czardas, with a little Gypsy swing violin thrown in before the seven-minute-plus track is through. On "Gewier (Lies)," Turkish clarinetist Hasan Yarim-Dünia's solo on the introductory doina is exquisite. Stylistically, Pruna is as slippery as trying to catch goldfish barehanded. New nuances come out with each repeated listening. It's a richly textured work, enigmatic and accessible at the same time. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdRoots

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