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10/10 Digerium Andy Customer review, 24th January 2007
I was in the middle of eating my delicious morning eggs when my good postman, and he is a good postman, stepped up to my door. He's the kind of postman that signs for your stuff when you’re not in and puts it though to save you a trip to the local depot. I’m fairly certain what it is, but less so of how it is. What I'm certainly certain about is that the postman isn't giving me more eggs. My expectation of this record is a vague qualitative one off the back of its single and previous album 'Yr Atal Genhedlaeth', that is to say I expect it to be more than worthy of cold eggs.
I’m almost quick enough at the door to give the postman blisters on his fingers. I snatch the package (still cold) and stand quiet in the vestibule (still cold). I tear it open and do the honors with an age old customary snort of its contents - that as well as a wise choice-of-a-step out of the fucking vestibule. So what have we got? well there's a definite blizzard of cardboard tones there, a little Gloy, and beneath that there's notes of Crayola and large brown corduroy bean bags. I rate the smell of this up there with that of GSYBE’s ‘Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven’ which smelled like static electricity and sleet. So out it comes. It's a beautiful matt finish foldout cardboard pack, printed with a degree of colour-run in mind, or maybe not in mind. Its panels are a storyboard of the assemblage of front-facing philosophy the ‘Candylion’ character. It’s ordinary and stunning at the same time, which is extraordinary. On to the CD itself, which is enclosed inside a panel and wrapped in a soft white cloth material – please don't quote me on this but I think we're talking hypo-allergenic polymix. The art work here spans much of the disc’s top making special depiction of Candylion’s mane. The choice of materials and psychoactive design culminates into a subconscious work of great synergy that induces in me a handling that is more akin to out-of-print vinyl than compact disc Frisbees.
So let’s check it out. The first thing you hear is a vinyl "pop", then for just under fifty seconds you are cheekily menaced by an album structure device that consists of familiar sounds from the seventies and early eighties. We have the analogue-synth squirm of school science videos, which are those peristaltic sounds that were supposed to represent the sound that the periodic table might make if it made sounds. We’ve also got the percussion of an american cop theme; and a bunch of annoyingly semi-recognizable samples. So now that I’m sitting comfortably disorientated, Gruff and Lisa begin. This perfect combination jump out with Candylion and make themselves at home on your futon. It’s a new kind of lullaby, a hypnapompic lullaby, one you should wake up to rather than fall asleep to. I find myself descending the "L-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-o-n" scale involuntarily and slipping into an alternate reality. I’ve got ‘Mr Ben’ and ‘Let’s Pretend’, I’ve got a freshly squeezed Vimto, I’ve got a new Jigsaw, thanks mum. Where am I. I’m in good hands.
For brevity’s sake I’ll jump four tracks in, where we’re plunged from the yearning ‘Court of King Arthur’ deep into ‘Lonesome Words’. Soaked in reverb, Lisa Jên, who I’m now likening to Rita Lee, drops a Morricone cry over Gruff’s melancholy reminiscent of ‘Cryndod yn dy Lais’. All this is carried out high aloft while underneath us, at eight times the tempo, tremors an acoustic thunder-horse who maintains our link to the land. A couple of tracks later ‘Beacon in the Darkness' starts with Gruff found swinging in a melodic hammock sporting a soft apprehensive croon which then opens up to a sunny day at the Brecon jazz festival in the ‘country tent’. For me this is the most fully formed track on here. It has Gruff displaying some skilled meterage and complimentary phrasing in combination with some interesting imagery. Later we find ‘Con Carino’ which is a blissful crumping campfire of a song, and then ‘Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru’ which is further exploration into Gruff’s driving addiction re: ‘Valet Parking’. In this, the non-Welsh speaker will find plenty to be going with in its rapid acrobatic vocally focussed rhythmical carnival of syllables - as playful and cool as ‘Caerffosiaeth’.
So far it’s an incredible listen, that is until the anomaly ‘Now That The Feeling Has Gone" wakes up. Here a dactylic run, bearing the song title and sharing a blatant melodic cue with ‘Shoot Doris Day’, slices a perfectly feasible wandering lilt clean in two. Doris is then deconstructed by a cheeky stylophone sound back into something completely detached – a juxtaposition that carousels ad nauseum. At this early stage in our relationship, the song is too mangled for me to get a proper grasp on it. I suppose it’s only a matter of time. I don’t wanna stress all this too much as I’ve only been listening to the record for 4 days, albeit with out rest and adequate refreshment. Besides, it’s really no detraction, since closer ‘Skylon’, a towering fourteen and a half minutes of a track that feels half that, is such a pleasurably engaging listen. This is a portentous narration centred on a man who is stuck on an awkward flight which takes a turns for worse. To give any description there on would be a disservice to its concept.
In all, you could say this record is like Mwng, except brighter and more temporal and international. Ah bollocks, it’s not like Mwng at all. It’s not a record at all, its a welcome companion. What it definitely is, is not in your ears.
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