Review: Dragon Mandole - Bard’s Tale I: Esprits Du Soleil Levant (2009)


dragonmandole_bt1artist: Dragon Man­dole
release: Bard’s Tale I: Esprits du Soleil Levant
format: CDr
year: 2009
label: Self-released
dur­a­tion: 79:49

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com.

Dragon Man­dole is a solo pro­ject by the Bre­ton musi­cian Padrigh. Util­ising an arsenal of acous­tic folk instru­ments he cre­ates music that takes the listener away to far ori­ental atmo­spheres.

The basic ele­ments of these songs are gui­tars, man­dolins, flute, and per­cus­sion. With these, Padrigh cre­ates long, soundscape-like tracks, but with a strong rhythm and repeat­ing melod­ies. Chanted vocals fea­ture prom­in­ently on many of the tracks, and the sound of the gui­tars is some­times thickened with dis­tor­tion to lend the tracks a heav­ier touch.

As we can see from the finely laid-out fold-out pack­aging, Dragon Man­dole is inspired by East-Asian and Middle-American cul­ture, ran­ging from his­tory to folk­lore, and even to mod­ern video games (Ico) and anime. This gives the album a very per­sonal touch, as it man­ages to express the way in which ori­ental and occi­dental cul­ture can merge in the mind of a young Bre­ton. As can be expec­ted, many of the themes and melod­ies are dis­tinctly Asian, but the over­all effect reflects the unique­ness of this mix of cul­tures.

A point of cri­ti­cism might be that the com­pos­i­tion and sound shows a bit too little vari­ation for such a long album. Apart from that, this is a beau­ti­ful home pro­duc­tion with tons of epic folk atmo­spheres, nice extens­ive liner notes, and excel­lent sound. Recom­men­ded for exper­i­mental folk lov­ers and even game soundtrack enthu­si­asts!

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

[ Part I: Snow­ing On The Sea ]

1. The Castle Of Ico (8:30)
2. Hajime-kun Cos­mo­fantasy (10:36)
3. Memor­ies Of Ico (6:35)

[ Part II: Lan-Na And Lan-Xang ]

4. Inter­lude ( 1:29)
5. La Pluie Des Petits Noï (1:25)
6. La Route Des Xangs (9:09)
7. Nam San River (2:56)
8. Le Pal­ais De La Forêt (4:19)

[ Part III: Songs Of The Wild Grass ]

9. Horses In The Morn­ing (7:45)
10. Ixtac­cihuatl (6:46)
11. En Suivant La Rivière (20:09)