Band Pres Llareggub : LlareggubMoPaChi Records : 04.12.2017
In the dark days of November it can take something special to break through the still melancholy and imbue your mood with a bit of much needed exuberance; if you are looking for that this year, then here it is. If in days short on natural light you are looking for something to provide illumination, then playing Llareggub is like flicking the switch on an industrial lighting unit. An instant, exhilarating party in a box, punctuated by moments of rare charm.
Llareggub is Band Pres Llareggub's third album, preceded by a brass reprise of Super Furry Animals' Mwng and last year's joyful and inventive Kurn. It is their most fully realised essay yet on the versatility of brass, a real triumphant statement of intent; full of trademark joie de vivre, it also contains, in Cymylau, probably the best song that band leader Owain Roberts has so far had a hand in composing.
Band Pres Llareggub's work is defined by the funk and jazz of New Orleans brass bands, the edge of hip hop and a willingness to experiment. They have again lined up an impressive set of collaborators, including MC Skunkadelic (who raps in English for Rise Up, an exception in an otherwise Welsh language set), Gwyllt, Alys Williams, Osian Huw Williams (Candelas), Mr Phormula and Lisa Jên (9Bach), who help them range stylistically from rap to swing with an ever present sense of delight as last seen momentarily on the face of a 1970's child winning a Christmas game of Kerplunk.
The arrangements constantly challenge and stretch any preconceptions you might have about the limits of a brass band. This is typified with Cwm Rhondda, which takes an iconic Welsh song then reinvents it with energised, driven percussion and an elegant, dramatic vocal part from Lisa Jên.
Any list of highlights on this album is not going to miss out a track - but one song stands out even in this company. Alys Williams adds her soaring, compellingly beautiful voice to Cymylau, a song she co-wrote with Owain Roberts. Lord, it is good to hear - superbly arranged, its big band sound frames her huge, emotive vocal talent perfectly. For anyone who might hesitate before an album sung mostly in Welsh, Cymylau demonstrates that music can completely transcend language whilst at the same time showcasing its vitality and vibrance.
However good their past work, Band Pres Llareggub have now definitively captured their live magic on record - the gleeful closing instrumental Chwarae'n Troi'n Chwerw serves to confirm that point in case it had been implausibly missed listening to the rest. At its simplest level with a new album you want to be absorbed and then transported emotionally; play Llareggub loud and you are somewhere else in a moment, and it's a very happy, euphoric place to be.
An album with a significance the opposite of its title read backwards, Llareggub swings, rocks and rejoices; it is a rhapsody in brass.
BAND PRES LLAREGGUB I Cymylau