Aled Hughes : Trugaredd / Nos Da Myfanwy23.03.2017 : Sbrigyn Ymborth
In his book How Music Works David Byrne writes 'Making music is like constructing a machine whose function is to dredge up emotions in performer and listener alike.' It is a pithy, important and accurate statement.
Aled Hughes plays bass in Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog and for Georgia Ruth, runs a record label, Sbrigyn Ymborth, and has produced some of the most distinctive music to come out of Wales in the last few years - including Plu, Gwilym Bowen Rhys' first solo LP, the last Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog album and Patrobas' debut. That's a lot of success working with or supporting other people's creativity.
This is his first effort standing alone, it's a single and there are two tracks - Trugaredd (Mercy) and Nos Da Myfanwy (Goodnight Myfanwy). Each warrants consideration - which is an active process (unlike listening to, for example, Metallica); they don't demand your attention, they are both understated, you have to offer it.
Trugaredd is in two parts; the first half a bright acoustic instrumental folk frame, the second a sketch in an elemental lyric (in Welsh) over a slow martial drumbeat - for the words a hat is tipped to three Welsh poets, T.H. Parry-Williams, R. Williams Parry and Rhydwen Williams, in acknowledgement of inspiration. It is a beautifully composed, played and produced song; the first half uplifting and quietly edging along musical enchantment, the second, once the slightly distant vocal starts, mellower and mournful.
Nos Da Myfanwy is an instrumental throughout, on one level just subtle Americana played primarily on electric guitar and sweetly plucked mandolin; in reality the song is a clever concatenation. On the left of the mix is an electric guitar playing the Welsh song Myfanwy, on the right a resonator guitar is playing the American song Goodnight Irene; the mandolin sound comes from a charanga - a Bolivian instrument somewhere between a mandolin and an ukulele. Whatever the compositional complexity the song's effect is lulling - evoking a peaceful, happy sense of love.
So is this solo effort any good? I can only say that in their serenity both tracks are moving, making them beguiling and quite magnificent, in both mine and David Byrne's books. An album of this would be, or will be, balm for the soul.