Thursday, 17 March 2016

Album: Cae Gwyn Records Compilation - Swooshed

Cae Gwyn Records Compilation Swooshed

Dan Amor & Huw Owen - Mothers In Day-Glo

Info: Stumbling upon a buzzing fridge at the summit of Moel Siabod
         The return of otters to a remote Snowdonian river
         First World War poetry set to contemporary folk music
         A Roman fort on the outskirts of Caernarfon
         A sound map of Dyffryn Ogwen

These are just some of the themes embraced on Swooshed, a new 10 track 
compilation album from Cae Gwyn Records, featuring some of Wales’ very finest folk, pop, ambient and psychedelic music.

Released just over 2 weeks ago, the independent Welsh record label which is home to two very gifted artists who featured here previously, Dan Amor and mr.huw, Swooshed showcases the cream of Cae Gwyn Records' roster.

The collection opens with instant chill courtesy of Anelog, a band that have created a beautifully crafted piece of psych-pop with 'Siabod' by melding their trademark analogue synths with more traditional instrumentation and some other-worldly harmonies. Again drawn on it's environment, the latest single from the collection by Omaloma, 'Lutra', is a gently paced instrumental which carefully both strings and piano side by side evoking a deep sense of calm, many parts of this album almost feel therapeutic and this track encapsulates that vibe very well.

We then bump into the aforementioned dream team of Dan Amor and Huw Owen who effortlessly present us with a tripped-out slice of utter folk pop joy on 'Mothers in Day-Glo' (above), day-glo indeed. There's a sense that this is what The Beatles might have sounded like if you transported their Magic Mystery Tour album to the modern era.

Nia Morgan - Ballad Of The Woods

Intrigued and fascinated doesn't even begin to describe sound artist and archaeologist David Hopewell's track, 'Surface'. A mix of recorded sounds from the Upper Ogwen Valley, the North Wales musician's is like a mythical journey inside nature, the listener a willing prisoner within its walls. On fifth track Dewi Evans' 'Daylight' is a retro-spacey voyage among the stars, the hidden track on Air's Moon Safari that never existed until now, the sinister sister of 'Kelly Watch The Stars'. 

Whilst Swooshed has a running theme of calm and introspective music from start to finish, the variance is striking and makes it all the more enjoyable, you're kept mellow, but in different ways, as is the case with John Lawrence's sparse and heart-warming 'Eclipse, Indian Summer', folky acoustic sounds moving seamlessly into classical piano. A particular highlight (among many) is Nia Morgan's 'Ballad Of The Woods' (above), steeped in 1970's British countryside folk in the Pentangle / Fairport Convention mould, it's reach becomes orchestral in places and the strings and acoustic work, coupled with her unique vocals are a complete pleasure to listen to.

After the spine-tingling experimentation of Sion Richards on 'Diwrnod Y Brain' ('Day of the Crows') and the gentle homely folk pairing Fiona and Gorwel Owen's 'Faintest Idea', we return to a Amor and Owen like I've never heard them before. Final track 'Segontiwm' (a Roman fort in North Wales where Roman auxiliaries from modern-day Belgium and Germany were based) is cinematic, unnerving and a mix of ancient sounds echoing through time and more contemporary industrial effects, linking past and present.

Cae Gwyn Records certainly seem to be bursting at the seams with talented artists and contributors, and the idea of releasing a compilation album is something I'd love to see an Irish independent label do here, granted there is the restriction of having a limited number of acts to draw on, but if Cae Gwyn can do it...! Swooshed itself is so contrasting but feels as one at the same time, whether intentional or not, the experience works holistically, and it is an experience, there are moments of pure art and visionary experimentation held within and I'm very glad I was able to go along for the ride.

Physical and digital copies of Swooshed are available at Cae Gwyn Records website here

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