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Review: Griff, The False Fly

The False Fly
[Appel 1330 (2010)]

“Bagpipes but no kilt!” is the motto of the Belgian six-piece Griff. And while bagpipes are a major component of the group’s sound, there’s no bombast or overkill in their usage. The closing track, “Dodeca Medita” is the perfect example, a layering of three bagpipes with an almost medieval sound, yet played with a delicacy rarely found in true Celtic music. The group performs in two different configurations, as the Griff trio with the three bagpipers, Remi Decker, Raphael De Cock (who does all the singing), and Birgit Bornauw; and, on this recording, as Griff, with the addition of accordion, guitar, and double bass.

The band plays a wide range of traditional material in various languages. The title track “The False Fly” (a variation of “False Knight on the Road”) and “Searching” (A variation of “As I Roved Out”) are sung in English, while “Visur,” a traditional song from Iceland, is sung in Icelandic, and and “Les Mots…” is an original song by Remi Decker sung in French. “Sendedir” is an adaption of a Turkish poem. The instrumental pieces are mostly Decker originals, with accordionist Sara Salverius writing and taking the lead on “Tourniquet.” The group also does a version of Bela Fleck’s “System 7.” The band has a wonderful sense of dynamics and the arrangements make subtle use of all the instruments, including the accordion, the various styles of bagpipes (uilleann, Flemish, small pipes) and whistles. It’s a refreshing mix of new and old music without any artificial borders. [www.griff.be; http://www.denappel.be]

—Jim Lee (Simi Valley, CA)

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