Alan Stivell

E Langonned

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Although it is frequently described as his most accessible album, E Langonned is more accurately thought of as Alan Stivell's most widely available, at least at the time. With 1972's Renaissance of the Celtic Harp having introduced him to an international audience by virtue of being his major-label debut, by the time of E Langonned, Stivell's name and music were well-established within Anglo-American folk circles, as one of the most eclectic, but simultaneously absorbing folk musicians of the day.

E Langonned is not a great departure from its predecessors, beyond his growing interest in ever wilder instrumentation. Eighteen short tracks are traditional compositions, drawn from the Celtic lands -- Brittany, Scotland, Wales, Ireland; and the accompaniment remains sparse and, to ears better acquainted with the folk-rock movement, eccentric. Harp, bagpipes, and bombard all play their part, together with Stivell's so-distinctive voice -- itself, at times, employed as an instrument -- and harmonies. "Ne Bado Ket Atao" is a wild chant for multiple voices, which bleeds beautifully into the fragile, flute-led melody of "Bwthyn Fy Nain," which in turn slips into "Ffarwell I Aberystwyth," a Welsh lament sounded through mournful bagpipe. The result is a constantly shifting patchwork that nevertheless weaves itself perfectly together, long before the record is over.