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Calan Calan
Album: Kistvaen
Label: Recordiau Sienco Music
Tracks: 13
Website: http://www.calan-band.com

From the feint hints of disco that usher in the opening bars of album curtain raiser Jêl

Caerdydd and to its subsequent flirting with yacht rock and Latin rhythm (you'd better believe it!) there's no doubt we're in altogether different territory with this enthralling new record from Welsh language Gaelic folk outfit Calan.

The song recounts the misadventures of a likely lad who falls foul of the law on a big night out in Cardiff, a tale that may or may not have been one of a number of stories the band gleaned on an inspirational visit to the Welsh National Library to comb the archive for songs, tunes, stories that speak to their forward-looking souls.

The album is a rousing, rambunctious blend of the traditional and the defiantly not traditional held together by supremely gifted musicianship, bold arrangements and the sheer inventiveness of their presentation. The breathless segues in Cofi Contd, a selection of tunes borrowed from Welsh musical giants past and present, condense the energy of better times into a vigorous few minutes of joy; while Angharad Jenkins' soothing festive instrumental 'Dolig Abertawe does the same for home cooking, Christmas cheer and a warm fire.

Rew-di-Ranno conjures the sound of the hedgerows and the impending doom that awaits a bird that is too busy singing to makes any preparation for the coming of winter, but no less evocative is the plaintive lament Mari Morgan in which non-Welsh speakers are invited to arrange our own fables for the lyrical poetry that somehow transcends the lack of comprehension. Perhaps there is something here in the album's title, an old Welsh word that means tomb?

It all comes down to Bailey's, a dazzling compendium of dance tunes culled from near and far in which, as they do throughout this remarkable record, Calan pay proud dues to their many musical forebears, not least J Lloyd Williams and Meredynn Evans.

Nick Churchill
www.nickchurchill.org.uk