Archives for posts with tag: Wales

Cate Le Bon Crab Day

Cate Le Bon brings her unique music stylings to Dunedin Tuesday 19 February with a piano-based performance which promises to provide an intimate and idiosyncratic gateway to her impressive song-list. Here’s “Wonderful” from her most recent album “Crab Day”.

Early albums “Me Oh My” (2009) and “Cyrk” (2012) were notionally folk, or neo-folk, or maybe psych-folk (or all of the above). “Mug Museum” (2013) started to expand the pop and rock elements in the sound much more.

All the albums pull in many directions. “Crab Day” is the most exploratory and intriguing; a kind of artful and fruity avant-garde psych-pop. In the same way that the likes of Robert Wyatt and Brian Eno, in their early exploratory solo music-making forms would confound familiar tropes while creating brilliant unusual avant-pop, Cate Le Bon also inhabits her own stylistic universe. It’s delightfully perverse experimental pop-craft, packed full of imaginative lyrics, melodies and arrangements. The subsequent EP “Rock Pool” (“the killed darlings from the “Crab Day” sessions”) is an essential addition.

There’s a distinctly experimental kind of oddness running through most of the music I’ve heard over the years from musicians from Wales. John Cale is probably the best known from his time in the Velvet Underground and string of classic solo albums starting in the 70s (“Paris 1919” is a great starting point if you are unfamiliar). Then in the 1980s it was the turn of post-punks Datblygu (a kind of Welsh-language equivalent of The Fall), followed by the extraordinary Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci in the 1990s then Super Furry Animals, each pushing their takes on psychedelic folk and rock out into space.

Here’s “Wonderful” performed live in the Radio K (KUOM) studio in Minnesota in 2016.

Cate le bon NZ tour



“Golau Arall” (which translates from Welsh as “Other Light” in case you are wondering) is from the 2015 Gwenno album “Y Dydd Olaf”

The song – and the whole album – evokes a different world. Part terrestrial (motorik bass & drum pulse) and part extra-terrestrial (the effect-drenched semi-whispered vocals and sci-fi electronic instrumentation).

Anyone with a fondness for the brightly-coloured retro-futurist pop of Stereolab or the playful sound-collage experimental pop of Broadcast will find plenty to entice them here.

Ten years ago Gwenno Saunders was part of  The Pipettes and singing about space (sort of). There’s a political theme here too – possibly even a concept album of a dystopian human-machine future where Welsh is used for cryptic human communication.

For non-Welsh speakers you might think the language used to convey socialist and feminist themes undermines the effectiveness of these messages. But singing in a minority language in the Western-UK-US music world is itself a political statement, a point made in this  interview with Gwenno from The Seventh Hex.

Here’s another brilliant song from the album”Chwyldro” (Revolution) –