HEAVENLY RECORDINGS 2nd March, 2018
You know what I’d do if I’d had critical acclaim for a concept album in Welsh based on an obscure science fiction album? I’d record my next set in Cornish.
That’s what Gwenno has done. Previously one of the retro-pop band, The Pipettes, she released a very cool synth-led album in 2015, tinged with the cooler aspects of Goldfrapp (like the first album) and bands like Broadcast. It was great, floaty, alienated, eclectic; this is more sweeping in feel. Still largely electronic in sound, it is richer in feel, with a touch more warmness. Organic instruments are used in unusual and warping ways, coming from strange angles in a pleasing and disorienting way. The voice is breathy, mostly, and the synth sounds burbling, chiming, enveloping.
Tracks like Eus Keus rise from odd rhythm tracks into big sweeping pop-choruses. She’s having fun as she huffs out the lyrics in breaths from deep inside. Other tracks, like the following Jynn Amontya, have a touch of 1970s Serge Gainsbourg in the sweep and feel but packed with quirky and left-field colour in the instrumentation. Den Heb Taves, which follows is more typical of the album – poppy, electronic, beaty and floaty, all at once. Skipping ahead to Daromeres Y’n Howl, a steady motorik beat comes in to fit the theme of detailing the summer traffic jams down the peninsula, complete with discordant horns – there you have the reason to hear this in Cornish – any song about traffic jams has to be better when you can’t understand the words. Then again, maybe it would be nice to grasp the words to Eus Keus (trans: Is There Cheese?).
Gwenno came to the language through her parents, both linguists, one a Welsh specialist, one working in Cornish. An almost-lost language rescued by activists, this trace of a distant past made her think. “This album is a combination of accepting the culture which your parents have valued enough to want to pass on to you, regardless how small, and utilising it in a positive way to try and make sense of the world around you, it’s also about having to accept and respect the nuances that make us all different and discovering that all of our stories share the same truth.”
The set is dreamy, drifty, multi-textured, layered deep in winding thoughts and weaving sounds. It, like its predecessor, creates a fugue state in the listener, a sense of drowning softly in sound. I recommend it highly.
Our review of 2015’s Yr Dydd Olaf
Our live review from 2015