Gweld y Llun, by Anweledig
Suggested by Simon Rodway
According to Google Translate, Gweld y Llun by Anweledig means “View the Picture, by Invisible.”
I prefer the resonance of the original Welsh, especially the expressive Anweledig. Gweld y Llun is nice too, but it elicits a flop-sweat side-eye, as there are pronunciation pitfalls. Double L is a guttural cough, right? And how do you pronounce “y”…?
I struggle with anything other than my native tongue. Some may say I struggle with that, but I’d hope nigh-on two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand words of Album Reviews over the last seven months will act as a rebuttal. I studied two languages at school, but excelled at neither. My French comprehension was adequate but my application was riddled with self-doubt. As for the second language, Latin? Completely pointless.
The issue I have with non-English languages is appallingly selfish. I find my lack of knowledge a genuine blot on my character, a flaw springing from any real desire to learn anything “other”. It’s self-fulfilling, in part. I feel I have no talent for languages, and thus don’t apply myself to the tasks involved, thus ensuring that I have no talent for languages.
Welsh is not as impenetrable as, say, Russian or Chinese, with their peculiar pictographic alphabets, but it certainly flirts with the form. Twenty-nine letters, nothing silly like K or Q, with a specific guttural cadence that’s unmistakeably colloquial. There’s a quirkiness too, with borrowed words like snwcer and tacsi, and a pride that overrides the logistical morass of dual-language signage.
Anweledig is undeniably Welsh, through the language of the lyric, but also through a sense of oddity and identity in the music and delivery itself. It’s an exemplar of the folky reggae-ska-punk sound, with a pure lo-fi edge atop garage band chic. There’s a drawling quality, with the punk-esque sneer of the singer sounding on point in his non-English tongue. As a non-Welsh-speaking purveyor, the odd inevitable English phrase slipping through is a predictable joy, even if the sketched context would have you believe the discourse is not entirely generous.
As someone with a penchant for brassy and bold ska sounds, I find the mellow refrains on Gweld y Llun to be a refreshing change of pace. It’s likely not as captivating as my favourites from the genre, but the band make a fine fist and do come out punching. Llenwi Fy Llygid begins with a swirling robotic sound, Graffiti Cymraeg has a galloping gait and a frantic Misfits-style bass and vocal, my standout Gweld y Llun is the funkiest track on display, and the frankly bizarre closer Anghenfil Ffync conjures up a restrained and tempered Mr Bungle, much to my delight.
While I enjoyed the fair majority of the album, a few aspects gave me pause. The sprawling spoken-word 6.5.99 felt indulgent, although it built very well. I felt marooned from the emotion behind the words through lack of understanding. And despite my best intentions, I found it difficult to see past the Welsh gimmick; indeed, the fact that it did feel gimmicky in places is an unpleasant reflection of my own blinkered and jaundiced viewpoint.
I’ll give Gweld y Llun a passable 6/10. I enjoyed it for what it was, but language was a barrier, and I can’t pretend otherwise. It was pleasant enough, but I’m unlikely to return any time soon.