herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Gwenno

A SPACECRAFT that resembles something you might make with a cardboard box, tinfoil and a few kitchen utensils is beaming messages from an area scientists call "the third zone of space", three billions miles away.

My fascination that a tin can, launched nine years ago, is now cruising a few thousand miles off the dwarf planet Pluto on the edge of the mysterious Kuiper belt, is matched only by the discovery that a 40-year-old cult novel in Welsh by deceased scientist Owain Owain has inspired a delightful Kraut-pop sci-fi concept album by Gwenno Saunders.

Saunders was a member of the wonderful girl trio The Pipettes, who were big into polka dots and an updated take on Phil Spector's epic pop teen dramas. There are two fine albums We Are The Pipettes and Earth Vs The Pipettes.

But they're only part of the Gwenno story. Raised by a Welsh-speaking mother and Cornish-speaking father, Gwenno was into all things Gaelic. Having taken Irish dancing lessons from an early age, she landed herself a gig with Michael Flately's Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames.

Last year, she recorded 10 tracks, with husband Rhys Edwards producing and released the album on an indie label Peski Records. Picked up by Heavenly, the album is performed in Welsh, with one song in Cornish. And, by golly (or, "gan golly" as we say in Welsh), it's a splendid sonic artefact.

Inspired by the old novel, the lyrics tell the story of a world where robots run the show and administer medicine to humans in order to turn them into clones. Or something like that. It's hard to tell if you don't speak Welsh.

But don't let that put you off. This works brilliantly, sounding, as Gwenno does, like a plaintiff alien from another planet. I mean that in a good way, no diss to the native tongue intended. Sure, aren't we all Celts, like.

Melodies are languid and mesmerising and the analogue soundscape suitably intergalactic with Telstar-like bloopiness and bleepiness washing around tugging bass and beats.

If doomed producer Joe Meek had produced French chanteuse Françoise Hardy with renegade Shadows' bassist Jet Harris in the mix, they might have come close to this engaging confection.

Golau Arall (Another Light) has a springy rhythm which is hypnotising. Heart Machine (Calon Peiriant) mixes a Gary Numan vibe with the soundtrack of an imaginary Italian space movie to positive effect.

Beam me up, Gwenno.

HHHII

(Heavenly)

Promoted articles

Entertainment News