Cae Gwyn Records : Swooshed

Swooshed is a compilation overseen by Snowdonia based alt folk / psychedelic label Cae Gwyn. The ten tracks showcase Welsh artists, mainly from the North, linked as much by imagination and sensibility rather than form; there is an eclectic mix of instrumentals and instrumentation, soundscapes and songs sung in English or Welsh. Which sounds like there might be a lack of coherence - but the biggest surprise is how well it gels together as an album, and, in part because of its eclectic nature, reveals itself subtly with repeated listens.

Here is what you can expect to find inside the winsome cover:

  • Anelog: Siabod: is a very good, smooth portion of synth pop played with distinctly analogue synthesisers. It was inspired by finding a strangely humming abandoned fridge on Moel Siabod; which may be a first.
  • Omaloma: Lutra: a pastoral keyboard instrumental by Penmachno's George Amor, prompted by the otters that have returned to Afon Machno.
  • Dan Amor & Huw Owen: Mothers in Day-glo: happy, summer psychdelic pop that would not be out of place nestled near Julia Dream on Pink Floyd's compilation Relics, more so if they had recorded the poppier parts of that LP in an old quarryman's cottage above Tregarth, as Dan and Huw did with this song. The track can be found here.
  • David Hopewell: Surfaces: Environmental recordings and words from a writer's notebook to compose an evocative sketch of the upper Ogwen Valley.
  • Dewi Evans: Daylight Alien: Formerly of Rheinallt H Rowlands, composer Dewi Evans offers an oddly uplifiting and buoyant instrumental.
  • John Lawrence: Eclipse, Indian Summer: an affecting guitar piece, a transition and then an uncluttered piano refrain builds to a short plateau, then dies away. For some reason it reminds me of the early Waterboys' fragment/song Spirit; not in sound, but in where it takes you (or me, if we are being honest about it) emotionally. His fourth solo album Songs from the precipice can be found via his website, and a further good chunk of solo music can be found on his Soundcloud page.
  • Nia Morgan: Ballad of the Woods: a poem by John Lyons, who died on his way to WWI, set to plangent folk music, with all instruments (guitar, harp, violin) played by Nia. She has a lovely, precisely phrased voice.
  • Siôn Richards: Diwrdnod y Brain: an affecting almost-instrumental with discordant menace - the antithetical musical mood to his mellow folk guitar and voice piece Bradwr that can be found on his Soundcloud page.
  • Fiona & Gorwel Owen: Faintest Idea: John Lawrence adds pedal steel on this crafted celebration of home on the west side of Anglesey. Elevated folk.
  • Dan Amor & Huw Owen: Segontiwm: an ambient instrumental originally put together for a film soundtrack, bringing the set of songs to an atmospheric close.

Ten tracks - and each has something of interest and genuine creativity. In the end, as a sampler, it beguiles, demands you actually listen and creates a nagging impulse to explore further. Job done.