Anian

9Bach

Released 29 April 2016

  1. Llyn Du
  2. Anian
  3. Yr Olaf
  4. Ifan
  5. Si Hwi Hwi
  6. Cyfaddefa
  7. Brain
  8. Heno
  9. Deryn
  10. Ambell Hiraeth
  11. Breuddwyd y Bardd

Liner notes

9Bach’s new album is called Anian —a soulful, brooding record whose songs take a critical look at the world in which we live.

Anian is a Welsh word meaning nature, the natural order, natural morality, the natural world, creation. What you are made of, your soul and bones, and how you connect with other people.

The double-CD package includes the unique companion piece Yn dy lais / In your voice, wherein writers, actors, poets, and singers —Peter Gabriel, Maxine Peake and Rhys Ifans among them— give their own interpretations of the songs as a way to convey their meanings to a non-Welsh speaking audience.

Photo credit: Dewi Glyn Jones

Anian is 9Bach’s third album. Like 2014’s Tincian it begins in North Wales, but broadens out through Greek and Near Eastern influences into an emotional tour de force. Angry, sad, but most of all passionate at the state of the world, the album taps into a truly universal language.

While Tincian was very much rooted in hiraeth, the scarred past of the mountainous mining landscape of the Ogwen Valley, North Wales, Anian looks outwards into the present. As singer, composer and pianist Lisa Jên explains, it comes from a desperate, anarchic place. “It marks where I’m at, whether it’s my age, being a mother, or simply being much more exposed to social media where I’m faced with pictures and videos, images and words which I find difficult to cope with right now.”

The eleven songs move from the rolling rhythms of ‘Llyn Du’ to the piano settings of ‘Ifan’ and ‘Deryn’, the layered voices of ‘Brain’ and ‘Si Hwi Hwi’ to the full band, Near Eastern climax of ‘Cyfaddefa’. At the centre is always Lisa Jên’s voice, and the instinctive way in which 9Bach work together.

“The songs always start with the vocal melody,” says Martin Hoyland. “Then it’s my job to build the instrumentation and arrangements around that, and to complement it as much as possible.”

9Bach's official video for 'Llyn Du'

Appearances are deceptive. Beneath the crystalline surface of Anian lie raging emotions. “I can’t write a song about nothing,’ stresses Lisa. “It has to have a heartbeat. I am trying to challenge the listener, whether it’s making them feel left out because they don’t have a crow that brings them gifts, or scowling at them for killing the last living white rhino.”

There is a dystopian feel to this album; its underlying themes are dark and heavy, prompting the question: who am I and what am I doing to help anyone? But there is also hope in the songs, a celebration of relationships and acts of kindness that bring happiness.

"There is a seed in my belly, it feels revolutionary, it feels like there is a movement where our generation just might be waking up from a very long deep sleep. Something has to change though, right?" Lisa Jen

Anian was recorded at Real World Studios by Lisa Jên (vocals, piano), Martin Hoyland (guitars, hammer dulcimer), Ali Byworth (drums & percussion), Dan Swain (electric bass guitar & double bass), Esyllt Glyn Jones (harp, vocals), and Mirain Roberts (piano, vocals, hammer dulcimer). This is the same line-up as recorded Tincian, but, as Martin explains, it was a very different experience. “We did have a general plan of what we wanted beforehand, but the way we work means it doesn’t always work out like that.”

The loose blueprint was to develop those stunning three-part harmonies, and then to introduce instruments they hadn’t used before, like hammer dulcimer and double bass. Perhaps surprisingly, Martin reveals they had intended to make a more upbeat album, but soon realised this wasn’t going to work: “There was just no way we were going to make upbeat versions of ‘Deryn’, ‘Ifan’, or ‘Ambell Hiraeth’. The subject matter is far too brooding.”

Recording live in the studio, with just a touch of overdubbing, the musicians were able to respond to each other emotionally, to react to the anger and sadness in some of the songs, with the band responding to the vocals and vice versa. “A big part of what we do is to convey sentiment, feeling, emotion in the sound, especially for a non-Welsh language audience, so it made total sense to capture that together,” says Martin.

A live recording of the song 'Ifan' for the S4C programme Stiwdio Gefn.

Reviews

  • Lisa Jen's voice navigates microtonal wobbles straight out of Piraeus and the drums crash in four minutes in to brew a heady dance. ★★★★ Financial Times (UK)
  • Their previous album, 2014 Tincian, looked back to the hardships of rural life in north Wales, this majestically does away with any hankering for the past. Hell - if they were Scandinavians they would be selling out arenas very soon. ★★★★ MOJO
  • Fronted by Gruff Rhys associate Lisa Jên, whose free, feather-light vocals are part of the appeal, 9Bach are a Welsh language proposition that can easily be enjoyed without understanding the lyrics. Their second album has a downtempo trip hop groove to it, but is also earthily rooted in organic instrumentation. It's late night fare, perhaps to be enjoyed with a pipe of taid's special blend. The Arts Desk (UK)
  • The musical potpourri 9Bach serve up is a fascinating blend of traditional and unconventional Sunday Star Times (New Zealand)
  • Standout tracks are Si Hwi Hwi, a sort of slave lullaby with lovely voice harmonies, the eastern-influenced Cyfaddefa and the a cappella Heno. The overdriven, understated guitar on closer Breuddwyd y Bard is a real treat. The Observer (UK)
  • Lisa Jen's ethereal voice still swoops beguilingly over Martin Hoyland's expansive arrangements Uncut (UK)
  • It's an ambitious and involving set that pushes boundaries and opens the door to dark, passionate mediations on nature, human nature and the world that lies strewn between them. ★★★★ Songlines Magazine (UK)
  • Jen's vocals are beguiling, but behind her lies all sorts of wonder: Cyfaddefa's Eastern-influenced spartan percussion; Heno's almost Enya-like wall of vocals; Llyn Du's cascading choruses. Q Magazine (UK)
  • The defining feature of Anian is its artful beauty. The yin is the gossamer-layered harmony vocals of Lisa Jên, Mirain and Esyllt; the cas- cading other-worldly, kora-like harp; the 9Bachian piano motifs (check out the 9Bach archetype in the apocalyptic apology, Deryn); the beguiling and lucid melodic lines. The yang is Martin's trademark dirty guitar riffs and effects; Dan's pulsing dub bass lines and Ali's intuitive drumming. Folk Roots (UK)
  • The Welsh-language band return with a set dominated by the exquisite vocals of Lisa Jên, who also adds piano and wrote many of the lyrics and melodies. The Guardian (UK)

Listen

Credits

Ali Byworth (drymiau, o erynnau taro/drums, percussion)
Dan Swain (gitâr bâs & bâs dwbwl/bass guitar & double bass)
Esyllt Glyn Jones (telyn, llais/harp, vocals)
Lisa Jên (llais, piano/vocals)
Martin Hoyland (gitâr/guitars & hammer dulcimer)
Mirain Haf Roberts (llais/vocals, piano & hammer dulcimer)

Geiriau ac alawon/lyrics & melody: Lisa Jên*
Cerddoriaeth a threfniannau/music & arrangements: Martin Hoyland & Lisa Jên*

*heblaw am/except for:
‘Heno’ > Geiriau gan Gerallt Lloyd Owen, cerddoriaeth a chyfansoddiad gwreiddiol gan Gwennant Pyrs. Trefniant lleisiol gan Lisa Jên a Mirain Haf Roberts
Words by Gerallt Lloyd Owen, original music & composition by Gwennant Pyrs. Arranged vocally by Lisa Jên and Mirain Haf Roberts
‘Si Hwi Hwi’ > Trad Arranged.
Arranged vocally by Lisa Jên, Mirain Haf Roberts, Esyllt Glyn Jones.
Music, Martin Hoyland, Dan Swain, Ali Byworth
‘Breuddwyd y Bardd’ > Trad arranged by Martin Hoyland, Lisa Jên
‘Ambell Hiraeth’ > Trad arranged by Lisa Jên

Cynhyrchwyd gan/produced by Martin Hoyland, Lisa Jên & Patrick Phillips Recordiwyd gan/recorded by Partick Phillips at Real World Studios Cymysgwyd gan/mixed by Patrick Phillips, Martin Hoyland, Lisa Jên at Real World Studios.

Mastro gan/mastered by Donal Whelan at Hafod Mastering Cyhoeddwyd gan/published by Real World Works Ltd, except ‘Heno’, published by Real World Works Ltd, Cyhoeddiadau Curiad & PRS/MCPS

A Real World Design by Marc Bessant Ffotogra iaeth/Photography: Dewi Glyn Jones. Colur/Make Up by Vikki Owen

Bobi – Bobi

Management by Alan James

Diolch/Thanks > Sian James – ti werth y byd! Iwan Bala, Gwennant Pyrs, Mirain Llwyd Owen, Bedwyr Llwyd Owen, Nest Llwyd Owen, Lisa Gwilym, Gareth Iwan, Dwynwen Morgan, Dewi Glyn Jones, Eluned Evans a teulu Meredydd Evans, Mari Prichard, Lleuwen Ste an, Patrick Phillips, Côr Penrhyn, Guto Roberts a Cwm Idwal, Vikky Owen, Music Box, Gwen Angharad Gru udd, Ben Hylands, Scott Steele, Angharad Wynne, Amanda, Jo, Sophie, Matt and everyone at Real World, Alan James, Andy Carrington, John McCormack, Phil Jones, Jamie Orchard-Lisle, Sarah Coxson, Bethan Elfyn, Dic Ben, Rhys Ifans, Ce n Roberts, Ieuan Wyn, Sioned Webb, Geraint Løvgreen, Cat a Gru, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage for the Merêd audio on ‘Crêd’, from a conversation with Betty Belanus and Charles Weber. Mirain: Diolch i Mam a Dad, Tizz, Shons, Efs a Now, Ceri ac Iddon. Ac i’r Nain Bach go iawn – Iris. Esyllt: Diolch i Math – am dy gefnogaeth di-ddiwedd, i’r plantos – Nanw, Idris a Lena, chi’n werth y byd, ac i Llinos a Bob am eich help tragwyddol. Ali: Thanks BB, BB, BB, AB, ARS, Mum, Dad, Sis, Bruv, B, R, The one and only PRN and nally ‘Let all the children boogie’. Dan: Thanks Katie-anna Whiting, Gigi Baroncelli. Martin a Lisa: Diolch o galon Liwsi Mô a Betsi Lŵ, Mam a Dad, Car a Dic a Pom am neud bob dim i helpu BOB TRO – Caru chi gymaint! Thanks Bill and Carole, Efharisto Vas kai Klimentini. Thanks AJ, Diolch Teulu 9Bach!

DIOLCH arbennig i bawb gyfrannodd o’r galoni’r project dehongli caneuon 9Bach THANKS from the heart to all who contributed with so much passion & love to the interpretations project x x x

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.
  • Carry Your Kin

    The Breath

    Released 08 July 2016

    Born out of Manchester's fertile music scene The Breath mix Irish folk influences with mesmerizing guitar riffs, anthemic themes and powerful hooks. In turns hypnotic, lush, powerfully raw and raucously punchy, their songs entrance, uplift and break your heart as The Breath conjure a kaleidoscope of sound that perfectly frames Connolly's raw songs and soul cleansing vocals.

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