sun 14/07/2024

Album: Gwenno - Tresor | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Gwenno - Tresor

Album: Gwenno - Tresor

Claustrophobia, folkiness and Cornish-language vocals rub shoulders

Gwenno's 'Tresor': language is no barrier

“The historic, the prehistoric, the natural, architectural, geological, ornithological, or on the side of its folklore, Christian or heathen – the place teems with subject matter that is as curious as it is interesting.” So the Gothic Revival architect John Dando Sedding wrote of Cornwall in 1887.

Now, the county’s riches are supplemented by the third album from the Wales-born Gwenno Saunders, on which all but two tracks are sung in Cornish: one is in Welsh, another is an instrumental. Sedding’s inventory applies to Tresor – which translates as "Treasure" – as much as it does to Victorian Cornwall. Saunders’s Cornish father is a poet and linguist whose work is in the county’s language.

Musically, although the Krautrock leanings are now largely an undertone, the Cardiff-recorded Tresor mostly cleaves to what defined Saunders’s last album, 2018’s Le Kov. In similar territory to Jane Weaver, it’s rooted what was defined by Broadcast. However, there is an organic feel – through the use of field recordings of voices, folky melodies, rhythms suggesting traditional dance or diffuse vocals, and there’s a judicious balance between the electronic side of the album and the instinctively natural.

It adds up to an album which can drift as mesmerically as a leaf bobbing on the surface of a stream or pulse with the uninhibitedness of ritual music. In the former camp is the title track, which is as poppy as it gets. The motorik-edged “Ardamm” (Emblem) exemplifies the latter approach. Vaguely threatening, its atmosphere is darkly claustrophobic. Next up on the album is the more conventionally traditional “Kan Me” (May Song).

“Kan Me” has been written for the next film from Bait director Mark Jenkin and doubtless will be a snug fit. But in the here-and-now Tresor’s overall themes are the process of examining the nature of self after giving birth and relationships with the external world. Dig in. Language is no barrier. John Dando Sedding would have been intrigued.


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