World music

There, between the living and the dead, between the visible and the invisible. There, rises the eternal complaint of the Gwerz, magnificently embodied by the voice of Denez. To discover on his 12th album “Ur mor a zaeoù – A sea of ​​tears“.

Denez-Prigent garners over 60 million views on YouTube. His title Gortoz a ranfilm soundtrack Black Hawk Down, of Ridley Scott and the movie The Lords by Olivier Dahan, featured in the cult US series South Park and Hawaii 5-0, in documentaries and by many international artists, supports in 2020 the charity project Bodymod which fights against violence against women. Following his path off the beaten path, alone a cappella at the Transmusicales in Rennes, marrying traditional singing and electronic music ahead of time, collaborating with the legendary rapper from the Bronx Masta Ace and the slam poet Oxmo Puccino, isolating himself for ten years to compose 50,000 verses…

Denez dares here an album dedicated to Gwerz, this tragic song born in the 5th century, which evokes death without taboos and celebrates eternal love.

Ur mor a zaeoù – A sea of ​​tears, here is the 12th album of Denez recorded in the country of Trégor, in the Côtes d’Armor in the Church of Saint-Brendan de Lanvellec.

Ten titles that sublimate the tragedies and sufferings of a humanity that expresses itself, sacred songs in the Breton language borrowed from a great spirituality, transmitted through time like so many echoes of contemporary dramas and our own fears, songs that elevate us and bring us back to the essential, closer to ourselves.

Denez Prigent and musicians. © Alexandre Kozel

Filmed by Arnaud Héry in the Church of Lanvellec, during the recording sessions of the album, here is the clip Ar bugel koar – The wax child.

No script, the idea was to share a moment with Denez and the musicians, immersed, as if we were with them. Something simple, intimate, respectful of the place. To feel this closeness, I shot entirely with a “steadycam” so that there is this feeling of continuous movement but with lightness. Finally, I chose to work the image in a “black and white” hue that highlights the textures and the light. A deep black and white which comes to support the emotion released by the piece.

The intensity of the emotions, the strength of the stories, the sensitive play of the musicians, and of course the unique and vibrant voice of Denez which resonates with the natural reverberation of the granite, are at the heart of this very special new album, dedicated to the Gwerz, this very old song came from the first Christian and Druidic ages when the Welsh bards married their songs to those of the bards of Armorica. Incantatory, solemn, bewitching, great Gwerz gathered here, real treasures of immense richness both in their melodies, their musical purity and in their breathtakingly beautiful poetry. Songs mixed with amazement and tears, renunciation and acceptance, anger and revolt, pain and rebirth, reality and fantasy, and which tell of the eternal struggle of men in the face of life and death – the omnipresent Ankou never taboo and whose conscience makes you love life better. A liberating death to join the loved one, or a punitive death, a source of misfortune and suffering.

Throughout the ages, when the time is neither for psychoanalysis nor for personal development, the Gwerz exorcise the pain engendered by the implacable hand of blind power, the devastating disease or the despair of the loss of to be loved. Gwerz has this cathartic power to stop time and erase tensions and fears a bit like crying. After singing, you feel cleansed, liberated, relieved. Singing through the deep emotion it conveys goes beyond words. Many people come to tell me after hearing a Gwerz: I didn’t understand the lyrics because I don’t speak Breton, but I was deeply moved.

Denez Prigent.
Denez Prigent. © Alexandre Kozel

The songs recount tragic events affecting the community : epidemics: superb interpretation of the famous Plague of Ellian to the very old melody to the “archaic” intercedes of the VIth century, wars and battles: overwhelming Gwerz du Private Le Fur, lonely despair d‘E Ti Eliz Izafamines: terrible desolation of the Gwerz The kyiv famine.

It is also about intimate dramas, timeless and tormented stories, unhappy or unchanging loves, where only absolute and idealized love remains after death. : moving My beloved is dead sung for the first time by Denez, The twice married girldark Iwan Gamus to litanies close to funeral orations. Lie and betrayal of The wax childwhere the haunting almost dancing ritornello of a saxophone responds with lightness to the melancholy of the voice.

An entirely traditional repertoire apart from two compositions by Denez: The kyiv famine composed in 1999 and dedicated to oppressed peoples, on the great famine of kyiv in Ukraine of 1932. A renewed interpretation with the children’s choir of the mastery of Saint-Brieuc. Kanañ a ran / I singan intimate poetry like a haiku that places love at the center of everything, no matter the torments of life, a sweet and sensitive love song.

Light hope of a love in the making, the album ends on Deuit ganin / Come with me, an eleven-minute Gwerz. All in purity a cappella, the depth of the rooted, incantatory and sacred song of Denez, at the renewed source.

An effective writing with strong images, signs, intersigns and symbols inspired by Celtic mythology, profane or religious, irrigates this epic poetry where the notion of destiny prevails over its own personal history.

To mark the spirits and permeate the memories, so that the stories can be transmitted, the scenes are depicted with great simplicity, conciseness, economy of words where bright colors predominate:

– black of the month of November, crows, misery, priests, carts carrying the dead…

– red from the men of kyiv, from the soldiers, from the nosebleed messenger of a coming misfortune, and when the lie of 9 months takes shape between her red skirt and her white shirt…

– white of the stone, of a satin dress, of the candles of the wax belt, of the shroud, of the innocent child or of the hair of an old man…

Sometimes the green of a fir yet quickly destined to die, the bluish shimmer of a satin dress enhanced by the marvelous sparkle of silver thread embroidered or the dazzling light of golden hair offered for crown or ring. No soft tints except the mysterious and unique chiaroscuro of moonlight.

Denez Prigent.
Denez Prigent. © Alexandre Kozel

A world where the elements of nature are beneficial and bearers of life: the air: wind, earth: field, stone, grass, harvest, wheat, rock, path or, on the contrary, bear witness to suffering and destruction: water: tears, sea, fountain, rain, ship, drowning, fire: wood, stake…

Religion is everywhere, guides behavior and gives rhythm to life: weddings, marriage, cemetery, tomb, mass, priests, church, baptism, blessings, supplications, prayers… and daily life is reduced to a strict minimum: house, bed, door, walls, keys, chest, stables, attics, cart, nurse.

Words that say a culture where the intimacy of the body is revealed little : dress, hair, ears, contrary to the sufferings of the soul, the absolute pain of a mother or a father who loses his three, seven, nine children, his son, his only daughter or unhappy lovers whose heart breaks, to lint.

Words that dare to express the violence of feelings and what they can generate: anger, gossip, spellare expressed by the edge of the weapons: rifle, saber or everyday tools: knife, ax.

As part of this long chain of living popular memory, Denez transmits the fire of tradition, imagines other words, composes as in Iwan Gamus and Bosen Eliant the verses of certain verses in order to find the original form of the tercet, the old mode of bardic composition, pieces beautiful ruins eroded by time to which he breathes new life.


My beloved is dead

wax child see the clip

The Fur soldier

Ellian’s Plague

Famine in Kyiv

come with me

Kan Anran

► Scrapbook Ur mor a zaeoù – A sea of ​​tears (Arsenal Prod/ Coop Breizh 2022)

Denez YouTube channel.

World music – “Around a sea of ​​tears”, new album by Denez Prigent. River maintenance