Patrick Molard
L'Oz (

cd cover Breton piper Patrick Molard ranges far for his musical inspiration, rooted in the Celtic part of France but extending his reach to the music of Galicia, Bulgaria, and Scotland. And while the playing of Molard and friends, especially uilleann piper Mick O'Brien, is flawless, Deliou is finally most impressive for its engaging seriousness. Even quick, dance-oriented numbers are suffused with stately gravity, and the longer, slower pieces evoke a nearly chilling majesty which, in the hands of a lesser artist, might edge toward the plodding and tedious.

"Porz Kloz" features the festive medieval sound of high-pitched binou-kous Breton pipes matched with a shrieking bombarde, call-response gavottes interestingly supported by violins and bass, darbouka insisting on a galloping beat. "Kalinka" begins in a lively common time beat, harp-like guitar behind Molard's sonorous small pipes, restrained tabla percussion, and Kalinka Vulcheva's shrill Bulgarian vocal playing the bombarde to Molard's smooth pipes, the interplay most apparent in the central Bulgarian love song as other instruments fall out, continuing into a final Breton piece, both dreamy and dramatic, like a slow air.

Vulcheva appears again in the title track, a long, slow wailing lament, Molard's uilleann pipes alternately leading, echoing, and embellishing her bright, piercing vocal. Molard teams his small pipes with O'Brien's uilleann ones on both "Ton Budiño/Ricardo Portela" and "Petko," the latter a pair of lively Bulgarian horos, "Paydoushko Horo" opening with the sort of yodeling of small pipes against drone so effectively implemented by synths on Márta Sebestyén's lovely 1992 "Apocrypha" recording, "Djinovsko Horo" more characteristically choppy and rhythmically challenging. At least for patient listeners, the most impressive track is "A Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick," slow highland pipes against dramatic, didjeridu-like drone, modulated to produce dynamic brass-like crescendos in conjunction with distorted electric guitar, to cumulative majestic effect.

Patrick Molard and company may take chances on Deliou, but their sure mastery makes great music sound deceptively easy. - Jim Foley

Audio: "Kalinka" ©2000 L'Oz Productions

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