Topette!!, bumblebees and bagpipes. An intriguing combination.
Release Date: 25th April 2022
Format: CD / digital
“Made in a spirit of European friendship and co-operation” is a term you don’t see or hear every day.
Their third album after the enforced hiatus brings all the joy that comes from the return of an enforced absence. The term ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ has been bandied about on these pages, but with Bourdon, it’s fully justified.
There’s a uniqueness about Topette!! with the collection and combination of instruments that you don’t see in the same place too often. Banjo, bagpipes, fiddles, accordion, and bodhran (I’m always a sucker for some percussion in folk tunes) take on a series of invigorated arrangements that showcase the mastery of their craft from James Delarre, Barn Stradling, Andy Cutting, Tania Buisse and Julien Cartonnet.
Barn Stradling’s Just Heavy provides a stirring march to open proceedings. Henry VIII might have even done some of his courting and wooing to something similar. It also opens the door to a maze of original and Frederic Paris / Benard Blanc French compositions and of course, their take on some trad tunes. It’s a joyful collection too with the pace uptempo and the notes flying by at a mesmerising rate of knots. The sort of tunes which are the reason that many of us listen to folk music. H8 may have had trouble keeping up with the Polka Know set that even veers into trad. Swedish; no boundaries to hold these guys back.
Visually, the set conjures up visions that drift into the French farms and fields, long and deserted roads where cyclist and the odd CV2 are the only signs of human life. Maybe the odd slightly dilapidated outbuilding, whitewashed walls and rustic tables where hopefully someone will serve you a refreshing beverage of your choice. I seem to be channeling the 1970 And Soon The Darkness film here…
James Delarre’s DLP provides a more studied and studious note (as does his intriguingly titled The Year Of The Metal Rat), serving as the prelude to something a little feistier (Winstanley’s / Les Trois Canards) that would be perfect in the hands of the late lamented Mawkin; a Gallic cum Russian flavour added to the recipe. A Stradling/Delarre/Cutting tune set bubbles busily offering the chance to sway away gently for five minutes while there’s the influence of something transatlantic in Hog Of The Forsaken from American ‘outsider folk’ hero Michael Hurley. Film-wise, I’m now at Back To The Future III, hoedown-ing (or hoe-ing down?) to the town barn dance. Delightful stuff. And while the film theme is playing such a strong role as we listen to Bourdon play out, the set is brought to a close a more mournful note with La Couturiere – think the New Orleans funeral scene in Live And Let Die.
A long-awaited return for a band that can’t really fail to deliver. A band not afraid to take on the challenges of musical cross pollination and in fact who revel in it. Some things are always worth the wait.
Here’s Oblique Jig / Miss Heidi Hendy from a couple of years ago – but you get the drift…