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Seven Reizh - La Barque Ailee CD (album) cover

LA BARQUE AILEE

Seven Reizh

 

Symphonic Prog

3.70 | 63 ratings

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Replayer
5 stars Seven Reizh's third and most ambitious album to date, La Barque Ailée (The Winged Barque) and its yet-unreleased sequel, L'albatros (due 2016), are concept albums inspired by Breton sailor and flight pioneer Jean-Marie Le Bris and are named after two of his flying machines.

As usual, composer Claude Mignon plays guitars and keyboards. Bleunwenn Mével, the main singer from Strikadenn Ys returns and sings in Breton. Longtime collaborator Farid Aït Siameur, lead singer of Taÿfa, is featured on most of the songs, singing in his native Kabyle, a Berber language from northern Algeria. Stefanie Théobald sings the French lyrics. As opposed to the previous two albums, La Barque Ailée features English lyrics, sung by Astrid Aubron.

As on the previous albums, Olivier Carole of Taÿfa plays bass, Gurvan Mével is responsible for drums and percussion and Gwenaël Mével plays various wind instruments. There are many other guest musicians, some of whom played on Samsâra, such as the string trio, which is featured throughout the album.

Sarpant Nij kicks things off to an exciting start, with a vaguely Eastern electric guitar and violin and aggressive drumming. Bleunwenn and Farid alternate singing as the song progresses through a gentle piano-based section, a violin-dominated section, and a rockier section featuring electric guitar and drums.

Seven features innovative interplay between cimbalom and bagpipes, backed by plodding drums. Most of the lyrics are in English and Kabyle. Seven features a beautiful flute outro similar to Samsâra's La longue marche.

Imram starts with multiple female voices chanting. Farid and Bleunwenn trade verses accompanied by the string section, later joined by piano and martial drums.

An Touriou II has the same vocal melody as Samsâra's An Touriou, but with English lyrics and an uplifting mood compared to its predecessor's ominous atmosphere. In the refrain a subtle Oldfield-style electric guitar wails in the background, later joined by bagpipes.

Harp, as the title indicates, is focused on the Celtic harp, but also preeminently features an accordion, violin and slide guitar. The song has mainly French lyrics, sung by Stefanie.

La voie du Milieu is the second longest track and is very dynamic. Farid, Bleunwenn and the choir all take turns singing. The song alternates between softer passages, which feature strings, piano and flute, and harder passages, which feature electric guitar, bagpipes and drums.

Kemmañ is the longest track and has multiple sections. Astrid, Farid and Bleunwenn alternate on lead vocal. The song starts with strings and piano, before Mignon's lap steel guitar joins in, playing a plaintive Gilmoresque tune. Crunchy electric guitar, a pulsing synth and saxophone join in with Farid. The song features a gorgeous slide guitar solo that plays over the choir and provides the album's highlight for me. Kemmañ ends with a saxophone solo evocative of the Shine On, You Crazy Diamond Parts I-V outro.

Autre Lettre à Louis Mignon is a dreamy and sparse, almost monophonic, piano piece, closing the album on a melancholy note.

I bought the album together with the associated book, which includes the song lyrics and their translation as well as the first half of La Barque Ailée novel written by lyricist Gérard Le Dortz. The book features some stunning photography and is very professionally designed, showcasing Le Dortz's skills as a graphic artist and writer. The book is available in French, English and German versions on the Seven Reizh website.

One thing I want to emphasize is how well everything in this album ties together. In spite of the extremely varied instrumentation and multi-part structure of the songs, the album flows remarkably well. This is a truly progressive album, painstakingly recorded over the course of a year by skilled musicians as a labor of love. In La Barque Ailée, Seven Reizh once again weaves a compelling tapestry of Celtic symphonic prog with world music influences.

Replayer | 5/5 |

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