FolkWales Online Magazine

Fest-noz quartet serve up a tantalising taste of Brittany


An Tri DipoP: from left to right, Tristan le Breton, Brian Ruellan, Añjela Lorho-Pasco and Dylan James

Llantrisant Folk Club, Pontyclun Institute Athletic Club: October 21, 2015

The spectacular Breton quartet An Tri Dipop performed an entrancing debut in Llantrisant Folk Club’s plush and welcoming home, Pontyclun Institute Athletic Club – and it seems as if the venue was transported 400 miles away to a Breton bar, where you could ask the patron to bring you a petit blanc, muscadet or, if you were feeling bold, a glass of  chouchenn. The four young musicians were just fresh from playing a brilliant fest-noz in the well-known and well-loved Lowender Peran festival, which had moved to Newquay from its base in Perranporth; now they were all keyed up for their only appearance in Wales, grand kas ar barhs, fiery pile menus  and strutting ronds de Loudeac which they executed finely. And in the wee small hours, they were off again; they were up at 4am to catch a ferry to Caen, ready to drive to Brittany to play in a fest-noz that night. Life gets hectic – especially when An Tri Dipop are busily gigging, with a new CD to promote (Mari-Louise, which FolkWales Online Magazine will review soon.)

The central figure is strong-voiced Añjela Lorho-Pasco, who has been singing traditional fest-noz material since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. She sang with her sisters, her mother and her neighbours, and now she performs on the main stages of the folk and world music scene. Guitarist Tristan le Breton is Añjela’s accompanist, with double-bass player Dylan James filling out the low notes and jazz trumpeter Brian Ruellan providing a plethora of heady sounds, the same way as a bombarde and biniou-koz do when they “answer” Añjela’s narrative.

And what compelling stories they are – imagine a traditional Breton fest-noz where hordes of dancers move in time to plinns, hanter-dros, laridés or many of the 300-plus chain-dances that are dotted around the map of Brittany, all sung to traditional complaintes and gwerziou in Breton, French or Gallo, the little-known ancient romance language that still exists in parts of Brittany’s hinterland. Añjela takes on the role of a singing storyteller, and she successfully storms it with Tristan, Brian and Dylan’s subtle syncopated arrangements carrying her through.

However, An Tri Dipop’s exploring experimentation in the first concert half brought them dangerously close to the edge a couple of times; there was one particular scary second when Añjela, Brian, Tristan and Dylan lost their way and sang and played completely out of tune. But they soon recovered, and the second half was an absolute delight with An Tri Dipop immersing themselves in the age-old fest-noz scene. This debut mini-tour was a success, with the Breton band’s reputation blossoming out from Cornwall to South Wales. Who knows – An Tri Dipop could just be the headlining guests at some future Welsh festival?

You can see a video of An Tri Dipop’s performance below – note the fest-noz dancers, with Mike Gulston leading!

Mick Tems


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