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CD: Gwenno – Y Dydd Olaf | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Gwenno – Y Dydd Olaf

CD: Gwenno – Y Dydd Olaf

Misty, mostly Welsh-language anti-totalitarian concept album

Gwenno's 'Y Dydd Olaf': a treat from start to end

An all-analogue space-rock, Krautrock-influenced, motorik-driven psychedelic ride on Saturn’s rings, Gwenno’s Y Dydd Olaf is a treat from start to end. Her sweet but dislocated vocals mesh with snappy bass guitar, bloopy synths and the otherworldly atmosphere of Ralph & Florian Kraftwerk. Apart from a track in Cornish, the Welsh-language album has its own flavour with exotic, lilting, almost-Japanese melodies, but it fits snugly with other recent-ish albums drawing from similar influences which also lean towards the conceptual by Eccentronic Research Council, Jaakko Eino Kalevi, Jane Weaver, Pepe & Saimaa and Yeti Lane. Y Dydd Olaf is a waking dream which enfolds like twilight mist.

Y Dydd Olaf draws from author Owain Owain’s 1976 Welsh-language science fiction novel of the same name – the title translates as The Last Day. The book takes the form of a diary written in a world where people are becoming machines. It looks to a dystopian future where individualism is threatened, and where culture and language are bulwarks against assimilation. It warns of creeping totalitarianism.

Gwenno Saunders’s route to Y Dydd Olaf is as fascinating as the album’s inspiration. She has previously recorded solo and was a member of the conceptual girl-group The Pipettes, which also featured the equally gifted Rose Elinor Dougall in their line-up. Saunders trained as a dancer, appeared in productions of Lord of the Dance, and has also been seen in the never-ending Welsh television soap opera Pobol y Cwm. Y Dydd Olaf stands on its own though, and can’t fail to thrill.

Overleaf: watch the video for “Chwyldro” from Gwenno's Y Dydd Olaf

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