9Bach

9Bach

Released 16 August 2019

  1. Bwthyn Fy Nain
  2. C'weiriwch Fy Ngwely
  3. Mae Nhw'n Dwedyd
  4. Yr Eneth Gadd Ei Gwrthod
  5. Llongau Caernarfon
  6. Cariad Cyntaf
  7. Pontypridd
  8. Gwydr Glas
  9. Pa Bryd Y Deui Eto?
  10. Lisa Lân
  11. Cân Dai'r Cantwr
  12. Trafaeliais Y Byd - Cân i AJ

Liner notes

Originally released in August 2009 via Welsh label Sain, 9Bach’s highly original and groundbreaking first album received four-star reviews from the likes of The Guardian and Uncut Magazine. Unavailable to purchase for many years, 9Bach consists of traditional Welsh Folk songs encompassing such timeless topics as death, heartache and lost love, with musical arrangements completely different from how they had been approached before.

The combination of live harp and guitar accompanying ethereal voices and dubby beats takes you in to the North Wales landscape, on an emotional rollercoaster as the heart and soul of each story is revealed through compelling and exquisitely sung narrative.

The 9Bach 10th Anniversary edition will feature new artwork and two bonus tracks. In keeping with the original album, these are new recordings of traditional Welsh folk songs. The first of these harks back to 9Bach’s roots, with an a cappella version of ‘Trafaeliais Y Byd Cân I AJ’. The arrangement of the second track, ‘Cân Dai’r Cantwr’, is electronic, potentially pointing to the band’s future direction.

Photo credit: Dewi Glyn Jones.

About the Songs

1. Bwthyn Fy Nain

A song about the beautiful simplicity of life when you are living in harmony with the land and nature. Nain means grandmother, and she loves a calm peaceful life, oblivious to war and all the chaos in the world, she’s just living in the moment on the side of a mountain with her chickens and goats and the produce she’s grown—and Oh! What a wonderful life that would be, to be removed from all of this hatred and destruction that we see every day in this world.

 

2. C’weriwch Fy Ngwely

A question and answer between a mother and her son. He is tired and low, and keeps repeating “make my bed, make my bed, I am sick, I am sick.”

He might be on his death bed, or certainly love-sick, and he keeps telling his mother what his wishes— or even what his ‘will’ —is… to give his father five pounds, his sister a sewing machine, and his dear mother, he will give all his fortune. But —for his loved one— a rope to strangle her with. Indeed this to me is a horror story.

 

3. Mae Nhw’n Dwedyd

This is a gossip song. It means ‘so they say’ or ‘they keep saying.’

I imagine the protagonist is in the tavern and he says “yes, but… if I only had a woman, a kindred spirit, I would only come here to the pub as a messenger.” He’s stating that “they keep saying this and that about me, but they say this and that about everyone, in fact, everyone talks rubbish all the time”. In the last verse he states that the one place that he would like to be talked about (with the one he loves the most), there’s no talk of him at all.

 

4. Yr Eneth Gadd Ei Gwrthod

This is one of my favourite folks songs and tells the story of a young girl who, finding herself pregnant out of wedlock, is thrown out of her family home by her father, ostracized by her community and left destitute.

It ends with the girl drowning herself after fantasising about being like the fish in the river Dyfrdwy, for they can hide under stones with nobody knowing their business.

She is found the next day, face down in the river, with a water-sodden note in her hand, asking to be buried without a headstone, so her existence would be forgotten because she was the girl that was rejected. This is actually a true story.

 

5. Llongau Caernarfon

This is the story of a young boy standing at the quayside in Caernarfon —which would have been a big port with ships coming in and out, industry, exchange of goods, slate for saffron etc— yearning to join a ship’s crew and enjoy the adventure of sailing. He can see the red and the green lights of the ships reflecting on the walls. I also see it as a song reflecting the *hiraeth of “yes, but once you’ve gone, you will always want to come back home.”

 

6. Cariad Cyntaf

This is a traditional Welsh love song, a heartfelt plea by a lovesick young man to his love, his “splendid star”. He sings of his beloved’s beauty and virtue and the love she gives so joyfully. He asks her to promise him her eternal love, so they can be together forever.

Photo credit: Dewi Glyn Jones.

7. Pontypridd

He’s trying to entice her and woo her. His intention is to have her. It’s a love song as he sings about how pure and beautiful she is.

 

8. Gwydyr Glas

There are so many versions of what the real story is behind this song.

A girl is asking if her sweetheart comes tapping on the window tonight, then he should be told, kindly, that she has been taken away by another man, from another village.

She hates to break his heart, it’s not her will, but she has no choice. But you can dissect this song and interpret the words so many other ways, including that she, the girl, is simply telling him to bugger-off because of his affair with another woman and she won’t take his nonsense any more. 

 

9. Pa Bryd y Deui Eto?

“When will you come again, to visit me, Deio?”

The young girl is questioning when will Deio come from his travels and come back to his love. She is heartbroken as she waits to see his beautiful face.

 

10. Lisa Lan

It is a lover’s lament for Lisa, ending when the heartsick lover is asking Lisa to escort him to his grave, that is oh so near. He has immense hiraeth for her for whatever reason, a break up, or rejection, or death, who knows.

He wants to reunite with her.  It’s a tragic song about love loss.

There are two extra tracks on this reissue:

 

11. Can Dai’r Cantwr

Dai writes this from his prison cell in Carmarthen. He’s imprisoned due to his part in the Rebecca Riots— attacks on toll gates on the roads of Wales. Underlying the protests were the economic conditions of the time and the relationship between farmers and landlords and the church.

Dai was sentenced to transportation to Tasmania for 20 years and never to return to Wales. In the song we hear of his dread of leaving his country and the hiraeth he’s already feeling.

 

12. Trafaeliais y byd – cân i AJ

A song that has a great natural rhythmic freedom— that’s so refreshing within the tradition.

It’s a farewell song that has that dread of leaving home about it. She sees red roses on the house as she bids farewell to her Mum and Dad, and asks them to bolt the door— I sense she feels she’ll never come home again. There is hiraeth here, hiraeth for her land and landscape, hiraeth for her people, and hiraeth for the world she once knew. Mirain’s vocals are integral to the band and she isn’t on the first album (she had yet to join the band back then) so it was lovely to have her on it.

This is a song in memory of our late beautiful friend, a huge part of our family, our manager and mentor— the remarkable Alan James.

*Hiraeth meaning— grief or sadness after the lost or departed, longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, homesickness, earnest desire.

Reviews

  • The interaction between Esyllt’s Harp and Martin’s guitar has a bluesy, black-velvet, almost anthemic quality. ★★★★ Financial Times
  • A startlingly original album ★★★★ R2

Further Listening

  • Tincian

    9Bach

    Released 12 May 2014

    9Bach's second album is an atmospheric, emotional record that reflects their home environment of Gerlan, North Wales. The songs on the album are all stories: some of them autobiographical, some are other people's true stories and others imaginary. A hybrid of the Welsh folk tradition, and of contemporary influences and working practices.
  • Foxlight

    Iarla Ó Lionáird

    Released 26 September 2011

    For his third solo album, Foxlight, the acclaimed singer Iarla Ó Lionáird delivers an impassioned and sublime set of personal songs, combining the twin urges to write more new material and yet also work with an intriguing set of collaborators including guitarist and producer, Leo Abrahams.

Further reading

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Mix The Music is a multitrack download store offering mix stems for classic Real World tracks.

Alan James Creative Bursaries 2019

The English Folk Dance and Song Society have awarded four new bursaries.

Exploring the musical dialogue of Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Thomas Bartlett’s debut album

Sophie Harris speaks to The Gloaming's Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Thomas Bartlett about their new...

9Bach on keeping the Welsh folk music alive, fresh and evolving

9Bach reflect on 10 years as a band, and adapting Welsh folk music on their debut album.