Datblygu: Porwr Trallod – album review
Datblygu: Porwr Trallod (Ankstmusik Records)
LP | CD | DL
Out 6th December 2015
Datblygu have been at the forefront of Welsh experimental music/poetry/spoken word/(sub?) culture since their inception in 1982. Being a John Peel favourite and with a Tube appearance behind them, Datblygu re-shaped what was possible with music in the 80s and 90s over their three full length releases. This firmly cemented their unique and idiosyncratic bent within the Welsh music scene.
In 2014, after a 21 year hiatus, Datblygu re-emerged with the mini-album Erbyn Hyn (‘By Now’) on Ankstmusik Records and performed a critically acclaimed sold out live performance at experimental Welsh music festival CAM15 at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre. This ‘day out’ obviously inspired the band to complete a full length release, their first for 22 years.
December sees their latest album Porwr Trallod, (Tribulation Browser) released to an unsuspecting generation who are used to over produced mulch. Datblygu have a new and progressive stripped down sound, but still retain their unrepentant experimentation and minimalist spoken word delivery.
Porwr Trallod sees the newly energised and legendary musical duo of multi instrumentalists and poets Pat Morgan and David R Edwards dive headlong into 21st century Britain with lyrics and sounds ranging from the angry to the serene. Politics, the state of the nation, culture and the complexities of modern living is the focus, along with their defiantly retained passion for the Welsh language and boy it is used to great effect here. This is nothing you have ever heard before or will ever hear again.
Over the course of its fourteen tracks, Datblygu’s afore mentioned experimentation and complete disregard for music ‘norms’ is perfectly illustrated right from the second track. ‘y llun mawr’ (The Big Picture) is a beautiful piano (loop) led track that sounds like it should feature on a French new wave film soundtrack. Straight after that we have ‘cyfeillgarwch’ (Friendship), a Pat sung dirge which leads on to ‘ond nawr mae hyn’ (But Now There’s This) that has the sound of an upbeat (and danceable!) minimalist 80’s hit with Giorgio Morodo on a Bontempi organ.
Datblygu’s historically often savage, and with a fair amount of spittle (!) spoken word delivery must have roots in John Cooper Clarke, and helped influence the likes of recent social commentators Sleaford Mods. This is seen in ‘hesb’ (Dry) wherein David talks of “smoking cigarettes and placing bets” against a music track that is running backwards. The delightfully titled ‘llawenydd diweithdra’ (The Joy of Unemployment) sounds like Delia Derbyshire discussing current affairs with Metal Mickey in a washing machine. This album changes direction and sound with every track. It really is hard to keep up with. I love it.
‘Difrifoldeb ymhob delwedd’ (Seriousness In Every Image) has jazz piano and is surprisingly funky! And final (Pat led) track ‘y flwyddyn(yn iawn)’ The Year (correctly) can only be described as an oral instruction manual for newly arriving inhabitants to a utopian orbiting space station. Seriously. It is beautiful.
This album deliriously and deliciously lurches back and forth between genres, instruments, topics and lo-fi production that only adds to its uniqueness. An expensive polished production just wouldn’t work. Datblygu have always seemed to be the epitome of ‘the shape of things to come’. Well, they are here. And after 22 years, they aren’t at the ‘top of their game’, because they were always there!! They are unique and need to be heard. They just need to get out there and do more gigs and leave a smaller gap between their albums that’s all!
Porwr Trallod’s release will be preceded by a listening party at Carmarthen’s Parrot Music Bar on the 28th November where it will be played in its entirety and will be followed by a Q&A with the band themselves.
Datblygu have been invited to perform at the writer/comedian Stewart Lee curated ATP Festival which is taking place on the 15th – 17th April 2016.
All words by Ioan Humphreys. More writing by Ioan Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.