Tristan Govic, harpist with Nordic tonalities
After a long Scottish and Swedish break, this artist released, together with Lise Enochsson, an elegant recording mixing Scandinavian and Breton colours and rhythms.
Off the beaten track, but without betraying his origins, Lorient harpist Tristan Le Govic has the spirit of a traveller. Since the discovery of his instrument at the Festival Interceltique, having studied it at the Traditional Music Conservatoire of Soye, then at the city's Music School, he now follows a personal path.
After long breaks - six years in Scotland, two in Sweden - he just settled down in Melrand and released a new album, Elva: "It means eleven in Swedish. There are eleven tracks. The clock on the cover marks eleven. This number follows me", he says.
In this exotic recording, through the voice of Swedish singer Lise Enochsson he brings a dynamic Scottish from Norway. "There is much in common between the Shetland Islands of Scotland and Norway, such as the Scottish dance found all over Europe."
A journey in space and time
Tristan Le Govic likes cultivating notions of proximity and distance, mingling familiar chords and singular notes, variations between major and minor. "Those modes are very exotic to our ears. They are very attractive, with a touch of nostalgia."
Recording a journey. "This album was recorded in Brittany, Scotland and Sweden. In a trip, there is always a part left behind and the need to catch up with friends again." There are many colours, like in this Gaelic song translated into Swedish. "A tune from the Hebrides dear to Lise. She wanted to translate it to sing it. The text is symbolic, it tells us of a sailor travelling from Scotland to Norway."
Another off-path element, a Ukrainian pause. "A song which is part of the repertoire from a tiny village, the legacy of a Swedish colony who emigrated, and kept it; an adventure in true Viking tradition!"
But the harpist is not a prisoner of the past. "In the polskas, there is a gap between space and time, past and present, the folk tradition and ragtime, like the old jazz."
The harp does not follow, it leads the way, breaking with its reputation of being a melancholic instrument. "I have a rhythmic approach to the harp. It is said that it's a plucked string instrument, but in the bass, it is a pounding percussion. Double bass player Stuart Macpherson and percussionist Roy Shearer from the Scottish jazz scene influenced me in that jazz style."
Evoking the Fukushima disaster is another unexpected moment. "It's part of the tradition of the bards to also tell the history, to get involved in life." But Tristan Le Govic has lost none of his Breton fibres. "There is a march of Polig Monjarret, and a gavotte Pourlet, the emblem of the Bugale Melrand circle. With two superb musicians, André Le Meut and Pascal Lamour, who at times seem to sound from afar. There is also the very close voice of Lise, avoiding reverb."