Not only are they a ‘surf’ band from the rather cold and misty North Wales coast, but as they themselves say, they are “probably the first Welsh language instrumental surf band.”
Not that any language features predominately (or at all, really) on an instrumental album, but what Y NIWL (translation: ‘The Fog’) have done here is to name all ten tracks in Welsh. Welsh numbers, that is…. although apparently the titles do not necessarily correspond to the song’s placing on the album. (Still with me?)
Far from appearing ‘weird,’ ‘wacky,’ or ‘zany’ for the sake of it, this all actually seems quite natural for some reason. You don’t get the impression that Y NIWL have developed a ‘novelty’ to distract from their music. And as if to reinforce their intention of ‘keeping it real,’ the album was recorded ‘live’ with no overdubs – just stacks of reverb – and straight onto tape using decades-old techniques and equipment!
Musically, this is a fabulously refreshing listen. The four guys of Y NIWL (pronounced ‘Uh Nule’) may have taken inspiration from the usual suspects like Dick Dale, the Champs, The Shadows and The Surfaris, but there is a modern feel to its presentation.
And before you go thinking hat all ‘surf’ music sounds the same, then just lay aside twenty-eight minutes of your time to give this album a hearing. There is enough variation by way of pace, and darker intonations to maintain the interest of even the more ADHD orientated listener.
Of course, in the main it is all driven along by the ‘twanged’ guitar, snare and crashing cymbals, but effective and sparing use is made of the organ. It really does have a lovely balance to it all.
It’s kinda hard to try and describe the individual tracks without using the reference points made earlier, which I think would be really unfair on a band who have had the balls to go against the grain of what is perceived to be ‘current’ out there.
Best I can say, if you’re a regular reader of this site, or even have a feel for the type of music that’s essentially ‘my bag, man’ is that this is very possibly one of the best albums I’ve had to review this year – certainly within the top ten!
Go check these guys out, daddy-oh!
(Released through Aderyn Papur on 6th December 2010)