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LLAN DE CUBEL IV "Fono Astur (Folk Music from Asturies)" IRCD046

Reaching for the atlas I scan for Asturies without any luck. Problem is I'm looking in Wales as the first track sounds like Ar Log. Maybe it's in Scotland as it now sounds like early Battlefield. Or there again Ireland as the Bothy Band influences come through. No it's none of these - Asturies is a region of N.W. Spain. Yes, there it is, next to Galicia and cut off from the rest of Spain by the Cantabrian mountains. The population is about a million. As you have probably guessed, I'd never heard of the place before this CD dropped through my letter box, let alone imagined there was an area of Spain with such a Celtic musical heritage, my only experience of Spanish music being the excellent La Musgana and the awful "Y Viva Espanya"!!!!!!!!!!

This is, as the title hints at (!!) Llan de Cubel's fourth album (I think one of their earlier offerings is about to escape again) and is OK. It's not brilliant but it's listenable. All are traditional tunes played on a variety of instruments featuring the Asturian bagpipes and have plenty of spirit. There's a lovely flute solo on track 9 (I won't even try to say the title) before the violin takes over. Of the three songs "Llonxana" (Distant Love) is by a local poet and the English translation is very metaphysical. The last set of tunes includes a street march and a bagpipe wedding march - a rousing ending to a pretty enjoyable album.

There are comprehensive sleeve notes which are luckily bi-lingual. Hidden amongst the thank you's are the names of Roy Gullane (Tannahills) Donald Shaw, John Martin and the best band around at the moment Shooglenifty. I think Llan de Cubel were part of this year's Celtic Connections, but living this far south I'm not sure, I do know that the are highly rated by the last mentioned band, and that's good enough for me.

An idea for a future edition of LIVING TRADITION is an article on the Celtic music of Asturies, and I'd be more than willing to carry out the research. (Hint Hint)

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 19 of The Living Tradition magazine.