I am rather fond of Dan Amor’s previous album, Rainhill Trials. It was a little off-the-wall and catchy but didn’t force itself upon you. With Afonydd A Drysau (Rivers And Doors) he’s returned entirely to God’s language for the first time in several years.
I was most unwell when I came to start work on this review but I found that lying in a dark room with Dan’s swirling acoustic rhythms was actually most theraputic. That said, ‘Sara Sahara’ and ‘Penwythnos Heulog’ wouldn’t have allowed me to fall asleep but that wasn’t actually the idea. The short instrumental opener, ‘Chwefror Y Pumed’, begins with what I take to be the sound of agricultural machinery followed by a long slow roll of thunder with Dan’s acoustic guitars sounding like falling rain.
Dan plays everything on the album except for Huw Owen’s drums and bass and Llŷr Pari who plays bass on one track. There are more snippets of field recordings including bird song and in places Dan sounds rather like The Beatles would have had they only been brought up on Welsh folksong. It’s partly his sweet multi-tracked vocal harmonies and partly his way with a melody that inevitably points in that direction. Sadly, my Welsh is next to non-existent but Dan promises that translations of the songs will appear on the label’s Bandcamp page. There are not there yet but I did work out that ‘Addo Glaw’ is about rain; that ‘Afon Caseg’ is a valley in Snowdonia and that ‘Weithiau’, the last track, translates as “sometimes”. After that, we’re all alone in the wilderness.
I do find Welsh vocals very attractive, as I do Gaelic, even though I don’t understand the words and I do like Afonydd A Drysau. It’s available to download and stream now with limited edition physical copies on sale next year.
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‘Penwythnos Heulog’ – official video: