Super Furry Animals - Mwng

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2015-05-04

Anyone who is familiar with SFA’s back catalogue, or has listened to their Under the Influence compilation from 2009, would know that SFA draw from a number of sometimes disparate influences, amongst them The Beach Boys, The Electric Light Orchestra, MC5, and Ennio Morricone, even the famous soaring baritone/tenor aria from Bizet’s Pearl Fishers. The Bizet appearing on Under The Influence should give little surprise to anyone who has momentarily been stirred by 30,000 Welshmen singing their national anthem at Cardiff Stadium. I, for one, have considered changing my allegiance from the Aussie to the Welsh Rugby team on the strength alone of that impassioned collective voice. 

Mwng, originally released in 2000, and literally meaning ‘Mane’ as in a lion’s mane, isn’t about nationalist fervour. Its simply written in the Welsh language. SFA had released a number of b-sides in Welsh early in their career, and weren’t exactly hijacking reason when they decided to record a whole album in the language, given their English language songs weren’t getting wide airplay. When a Welsh politician, Elfyn Llwyd opined in the House of Commons that Mwng symbolised "A new wave of confidence in the Welsh Nation," the irony of that statement was completely lost on him.       

So, Mwng, an album that went on to top sales for a Welsh language album anywhere, was simply an artistic statement without a page in national history; an artistic statement that has nonetheless been afforded a hallowed place in Welsh indie-rock folklore, if not cultural folklore. Mwng is a beautiful album of Welsh folk themes unfurled into music that owes much to the halcyon days of 1960s/1970s pop music. The sunshine literally extrudes from the ass of every goddamn song on the original album. 

There is nothing as literally referenced on Mwng as there was with the glam rock of ‘Golden Retriever’ from Phantom Power, or the Beach Boys-inspired ‘Rings Around the World’ from the album of the same name. The woody realism of Mwng still leans very much on the experimental indie side, but the mood is consistent, and the pop flows like an endless tap of SodaStream.  

The Deluxe Edition comes with the addition of bonus tracks 'Cryndod Yn Dy Lais', 'Trons Mr Urdd', 'Calimero', 'Sali Mali' and '(Nid) Hon Yw’r Gan Sy’n Mynd I Achub Yr laith', which appeared on the US-released bonus-disc named Mwng Bach. Additionally, there is a previously unreleased Peel Session which showcases four tracks from the expanded US release of Mwng in a more acoustic set, and a live show from All Tomorrow’s Parties with seven live versions of Mwng tracks amped-up slightly and augmented by a bit more electric guitar.

'Drygioni' gets funkier, 'Ysbeidiau Huelog' less horny and not so experimental but gains in fuzz and moshpit dance-ability. 'Y Gwyneb lau' is more anthemic and less plaintive, 'Gwreiddiau Dwfn Ysbeidiau Heulog/Mawrth Oer Ar Y Blaned Neifion' commences with rapturous pop. The intermediate tinkling of bells signals the shift mid-track to a carnivale-led tour de force of percussion, atonal sax, psychedelic keyboard, and a techno ending that might have been lifted from Underworld’s cutting-room floor.

Deluxe editions are sometimes superfluous, but the additional material here demonstates the versatility of a band forever creatively restless.

Os ydych yn Gymraeg , byddwch , wrth gwrs, wedi neilltuo eich copi.

 

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