‘Surf The River Lee’ by Txütxükan - a whirling carousel of sounds(August 21, 2013)
I’ve just stumbled across an intriguing French folk (ish) band called Txütxükan (pronounced 'TshooTshooKan' – it means ‘DIY’ in the Basque language) and became at the same time both confused and captivated by their mainly Eastern European music. The influences that surge across their album ‘Surf The River Lee’ are clearly legion outside of a fair chunk of jazzy folk there’s touches of Balkan-based, gypsy and klezmer music. They describe their music as “… fast, festive sets, emotional songs, well-known tunes and a bit of madness.” That’s a pretty fair assessment – it’s also infectious and breaks more than a few boundaries.
There’s certainly a driving beat, there’s also a whirling carousel of sounds that set off at breakneck speed and appear not to lose pace for a moment. The wide mix of instruments and styles also helps to wind up the frenzy. This album is almost impossible to categorise, just when you think you’re at one with the frenetic gyspsy approach someone throws in some scat razzamatazz, free jazz and then some laid back swing. There’s a plethora of seemingly improvised melodies and rhythms that to be fair take some getting into – this is music without a safety net and not for the faint hearted.
From the turmoil of ‘La Bataille’ and the loose energy of ‘Surf’ through the rush of ‘Moustach’ Groove’ to the maelstrom of ‘711’ and the lazy then rabid intoxication of ‘El Din’, this is music to shift your foundations. Currently, they are doing just that with ‘Surf The River Lee' and their live set as they tour Ireland and treat the Irish folk to their culture-blending music.
Txütxükan are Dylan Gully (clarinet, sax, kaval, recorder, voice) Bruno Hollemaert (guitar, bouzouki, accordion, banjo, voice) Eric Belot (upright bass, electric bass, voice) Joachim Mouflin (percussions, drums, bouzouki, voice) and Joseph Detailleur (accordion, voice) with Stella Rodriques playing gamelan on ‘El Din’.
Reviewer: Dan Holland