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Album: “Babel Pow Wow

Artist: Dom Duff

Location: Brittany

Original Release Date: April 18, 2013

Tracks:

1. Buan yann buan

2. Bitter Lands of Llydaw

3. Noa

4. Chikoloden groove

5. Floc’h ar jabadao

6. A-du gant an avel

7. Babel pow wow

8. Houarn & lêr

9. Buzhug’o’matik

10. Koroll gouez

11. Treizh

12. En tu all d’an treizh

13. Foeter breizh

“Babel Pow Wow” is the fifth album by Breton singer/songwriter Dom Duff. He got this started through the Kiss Kiss Bank Bank program.  So what’s thid album all about? According to Dom Duff :

This album pays tribute to the world’s cultures, languages​​, to all those people who use their words and their rhythms to sing, dance, laugh,  … The idea came to me after many meetings with different fans, speaking about multilingual cultures : our imagery, rhythm of our words, of our music.  As usual, I sing my native Breton language, adding my guitar licks surrounds by fiddle, bass and percussion to these stomping songs and tunes.It’s about local & global troubles, causes, …

So what’s my assessment of Babel Pow Wow?   To those who haven’t heard it yet, Babel Pow Wow is a collection of folk/ rock inspired tunes laced with Breton music. It is composed of a richly layered album with a wide array of instrumental explorations. I think this is Dom Duff’s most successful work to date, with  ambitious effort and sleek production to match.

This album aims to take  nods on all Celtic music branches. It also highlights other musical genres, from all sides of the globe. It is an album that is a must for lovers of Breton culture and the rest of the Celtic nations. And even if you don’t speak Breton, the rhythm of the language will take you to places you’ve never dreamed of.

Buan yann buan starts the album with its inspiring guitar and percussion. The tune takes flight as fiddles, harmonica and other instruments wrap this track with passionate abandon. The mandolin takes the center stage in Bitter Lands of Llydaw, along with the strong and haunting vocals of Dom. Noa pulls us into the mysterious Breton landscape with that strange mechanical sound for ambience. Chikoloden  has the groove that is definitively Celtic with its beautiful instrumental arrangement and also a jig in the second half of the track that nods on the Irish side of the influence.

Floc’h ar jabadao is typical Dom Duff with the driving percussion and strumming. A-du gant an avel is a beautiful ballad a sweet melody and beautiful guitar solos. Those who love psychedelic rock will love the title track Babel Pow Wow. Jigs, hypnotic percussion and driving rhythm are all explored to the max in one track. Houarn & r channels a bit of George Harrison with that beautiful and catchy chanting for chorus. This style is also found in the next track  Buzhug’o’matik.

Koroll gouez starts with an adult alternative intro and then followed by the marathon run intensity of the verse and chorus matched by the energetic  fiddle and percussion. The mysterious sounds make a comeback in Treizh. The style is Middle Eastern. En tu all d’an treizh gets us back to our feet with the signature Breton rock that’s always typical of Dom Duff. Foeter breizh closes this amazing album with the sound of Breton footsteps by Breton runners. The video of this song was published more than a year ago and it’s been widely shared across Brittany.

I will never get tired listening to Babel Pow Wow. It’s got all the grooves, the sound spices you need when you want a kind of music that not only inspired but also soothes the hunger for something rooted to tradition and the love for diversity. Better get your copy now!

***

Huzzah!

Alan Cooke, The Wild Irish Poet

It’s Monday! Birds are singing, the sun is up and ground is wet from last night’s rain. How are you doing?

Last time I mentioned that I read in advance The Spirit of Ireland – An Odyssey HOME – Alan Cooke’s  follow-up memoir to Naked in New York. Did I mentioned that the book moved me that I wept? perhaps not so I am telling you now. It is a beautiful work , richly layered in atmosphere and images. You need to get it when it is finally out. So here’s a passage:

From The Spirit of Ireland – An Odyssey HOME : I looked at an old cottage that was for sale because the picture struck me as haunting and evocative. It was dark and grey outside with the threat of rain. This house had no road, no gentle garden path with plants along the edges. It was muddy and full of rocks. I got to the door. A small river ran around the entire house. Inside it was chilling and desolate. A whole planet of despair resounded here in lost memories and lives that had been lived out. Old stained suit jackets hung in the window. Everything was dead. The house had shed its last breath. The windows were blurred with dirt and finger marks. The floor was broken and warped and an old kettle sat in the middle of the room awaiting an owner to bring it into life again. This house had kept generations enveloped in a kind of soft life. Yet hardship always lurked nearby in the form of poverty. I imagined coins counted to the penny and a soft shuffle out the door to get a loaf of bread and some meat for the week. Or some news brought to the door that would shatter the heart. Or the sound of a baby covered in her Mother’s blood born on the wet floor as the roof let in the rain at angles. A weeping newborn amidst the rain storms that took hold of the land and shook and drowned her till she was sodden and miserable.

I saw old cigarette boxes lying by the fireplace. I imagined rugged hands lighting wrinkled cigarettes shoved into the sides of black stained drinking mouths and scouring the land, planting and digging and heaving and sweating the years away. Or maybe a song that was hummed and filled their sleep in the night. Or a foot that tapped with rhythm on the black dirt floors. Or the eyes that were lit by the fire. Soft country eyes that had only seen the glory of nature all their lives. Yet I could feel the intense energy and loss of this ghostly cottage. A house withered and dying without human warmth felt terribly lonely to me. And above me a billion miles into the sky far above the ghosts in this house we were looked down upon by forces undefinable. This tiny house in this tiny land and this eternal terror of being. The light filled the soul, measured against the immense beyond. I felt the depth of it and the memory so thick down to my fingers which I traced along a window sill.

In an old drawer I spotted a faded photo of a Father and his child. The photo was half burned, the daughter looking away from the camera. The Father had a beautiful smile. His cap was in his hands. He looked humble and had soft eyes. Where were they now? Long gone. So far gone I could not sense any of their life in this sad place. Who would buy this place? I wanted the weeds and the fern and the branches of trees to grow tall and strong and wrap themselves around this cottage. Move inside the walls and windows. Creep along the floor and take this house back into the earth. It did not belong in the present. I put the photo back in its place. I felt like I had walked upon a grave. I was trespassing amongst the dead.

Here amongst the ragged remains of an Irish home at once comforting and now cold and dead I sensed what the end might feel like. My own end. It sent a fever into the throat to think on this, the idea of ceasing to exist and of disappearing. Outside I could see a bird wet, on a thin branch still singing in this most terrible of winter days. His eyes darted with each note and his breathy reedy notes were a symphonic calming release against the singular bleakness of my emotions.

His was the constant song of aliveness. The paradox when God seemed to have bolted his door. It almost seemed to me that this messenger was all that kept the world from upending and falling apart. It is the voices of hope in the world that keep us from despair. The bird stayed for an eternity. Singing, for no purpose, but his own, and I selfishly took it for mine as well. To give my own presence meaning.

I left the house and walked back down the rocky path to my car. I looked in the mirror inside and I could see my own darkened eyes, this strange search for home within me always. The restless spirit misaligned with a race that itself was lost. Spinning on in this grey eternity called life.

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