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CALAN - Bling

CALAN - Bling
Sain SCD2577

Folk with a bit of bling!’ according to Calan’s MySpace presence; but don’t expect the gaudy gleam of rap or hip-hop here. Using the Welsh words for ‘sparkle’ or ‘verve’ might have served better in capturing the spirited energy of this young quintet. Exclude the folk instruments from their cover image and you might think you’ve a teeny pop band. However the very skilled young musicians here (playing fiddles, harp, accordion, piano, acoustic guitar, whistles, pipes and more) are far from that.

Arranging an array of mainly traditional Welsh tunes into 11 tracks, mainly as tune sets, with a fresh, contemporary and vibrant sound they are comparable with groups like Beoga, 422 and Tyde and share their manifest potential. Three pieces are reprised with bass (Maartin Alcock) and drums/percussion (Paul Burgess) although not fully realising the opportunity to stretch the material more by, for instance, further developing and syncopating the rhythms. In the main there are oodles of energy, toe-tapping catchiness and ample dynamic range. Vocals are provided in Welsh on two tracks to very good effect and, as with the harp, should be given more emphasis in future recordings.

The accompanying booklet offers two pages of basic information on the tracks and then a series of stylish images of the players with, perhaps peculiarly insightful, details of pet hates, desired ‘supper’ party invitees and guilty pleasures (nothing untoward!). With a recent appearance at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany and support to Quebecquois trio Genticorum, Calan’s future bodes well. More experience and absorption of further influences could lead and inspire them to interpret and adapt material, as is their evident wish, in even more interesting Lau like ways.

Kevin T Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 86 of The Living Tradition magazine.