Llangres - Esnalar
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Musifactor (www.llangres.com)

cd cover Asturias, a mountainous region just east of Galicia along the coast of the Bay of Biscay, is another of the marvels of Iberian culture and music. The quintet Llangres hails from Asturias, and Esnalar ("To Fly"), their second release, demonstrates their unique Asturian take on Celtic music, continuing with a staggering array of instruments, and adding vocalist Esther Fonseca. This addition brings the structure of Esnalar more into the mold of contemporary-traditional Celtic music from the British Isles, with instrumental medleys strategically interspersed with vocal songs.

"Pe�arrubia" starts the recording off running, gaita and flute in a tight fugue with a characteristically Celtic long melody, parsing differently when bodhran and bouzouki enter. The title track, pleasant and winsomely longing, introduces Fonseca's light vocal, no threat to the primacy of Llangres' instrumental performance, which shines in a sprightly reel above insistent percussion in the center of the tune. "R�u Verdi" begins as a very traditional jig on flute, before bodhran and gaita send it into overdrive, an effect similar to switching to color from black-and-white, and seeming to speed up near the end as the melody switches from triplets to common-time, an exciting and well-conceived medley. "La Carbona" begins as a bouncy waltz on Yago Prado's Celtic harp, Fonseca's vocal by turns breathless and calm, the instrumental center in an energized break-beat.

"La Pastorina" is a wonderful surprise, hollow picked bouzouki and jazzy organ leading into a wavering melody on Barja Baraga�o's gaita, strummed guitar and percussion maintaining the jazzy atmosphere while melodies spin out in uniquely Spanish joyful exuberance. The sound changes abruptly in "Soscobiu," a slow air featuring fiddle and guitar, breaking into an accelerating flute melody with tinkling harp accompaniment, ending in a percussion-driven gallop. "Carolina" begins with the high drama of a long fiddle and flute introduction above nervously chorded bouzouki, Fonseca really hitting stride with a bright vocal. "La Inariega" couldn't be more different, a gentle, swinging common-time melody in unison on fiddle and gaita. Fonseca's vocal is fragile yet precise on the jaunty waltz "Vientu d'Adios."

Esnalar demonstrates growth and development of Llangres' instrumental excellence since their debut recording "Stura." The vocals of Esther Fonseca, while pleasant and competent, are not on the same level as the instrumental performances, but in no sense detract from the enjoyment of the recording. - Jim Foley

CD available from cdRoots

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