Monday, September 12, 2011

TRWBADOR "Sun In The Winter"

I was quite smitten with the “gauzy faerie-folk-glitch-pop” of the first Trwbador EP “It Snowed A Lot Last Year” back in January - and put one track ‘Daw'r Nos, Daw'r Haf’ on the Cloud Sounds podcast I hosted* in March. Now half a year later – but still wintry in title – comes EP number two from the Carmarthenshire duo. And although shorter, four tracks rather than seven, “Sun In The Winter” makes a bolder statement. The EP blends organic and electronic elements as before but is a much more confident set of songs, one that retains the dreamy child-like qualities of its predecessor but also possesses a harder, more assertive edge.

The title track that opens the EP is an assured mix of playground ‘tronica and R&B beats topped off with Angharad Van Rijswijk’s halting, child-like tones. This is a darker version of the innocence and wonder that Trwbador are so adept at creating: innocence that’s cautiously trying to enter the adult world: “I’ll make my mama and papa so proud/ stand on two feet and move out”. From a lolloping first-half the song then adopts a caffeinated, beat-driven surge in pace and intensity to its sudden climax. Its playful edginess and melodic catchiness are both taken a step further in ‘Red Handkerchiefs’, a much more oddball offering, the aural equivalent of those strange European animations aimed at children but crammed full of surreal, unexpected and unnerving imagery. The different uses of Angharad’s voice are key to its success – an eerie almost-spoken chorus, wordless tones underneath this and then interlocking cooing voices for the verses. At the end the pitch of Angharad’s voice is altered to sound like a man –gender-bending through electronics, Laurie Anderson style. Astonishing.

‘Once I Had A Love’ is a more subdued acoustic affair that is almost a come-down after the clever experimentation of the previous two songs – folky regret at the loss of a lover with washes of electronic judders and whirrs but sticking in the mind is the lonely voice and plaintive acoustic guitar. The music-box chimes and tick-tock lullaby rhythms of ‘Onions Make Me Cry’ make a honey-sweet setting for wordplay on the disappoint of relationships: “lemons make me bitter / so you don’t need to”.

Trwbador conjure a world of wide-eyed, youthful wonder out of a bold experimental palette. On this EP their world is made a little more sinister by encroaching adult concerns and more dramatic brush-strokes from that resourceful palette but it is still captivatingly beautiful. “Sun In The Winter” is released digitally and on CD via the band’s own Owlet Music label.

Owain from Trwbador is looking to start a blog showcasing the people’s love of vinyl records. And the only shame with this release is that is not available on vinyl. I’m sure the economics of vinyl pressing mean a high volume run is required. In a just world, with song-writing and inventiveness of this calibre, healthy sales of Trwbador should be a copper-bottomed certainty. Highly recommended.

Red Handkerchiefs by Trwbador

Sun In The Winter by Trwbador

Trwbador Sun In The Winter [BUY]

* ‘hosted’ = mumbled through

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