December 2020 : Album of the Month : Meilir : In Tune04.12.2020 : Gwdihŵ Records
Ten years into his solo career the Welsh experimental singer-songwriter Meilir has finally released a debut album. It has been worth the wait - composed and arranged with monkish devotion, In Tune is a record of wholehearted, off-kilter genius.
Meilir has assembled a set of songs that confirm his ability to express complex emotion with an improbable mix of natural instruments, electronica, and found sound (including here a typewriter and a tray of gravel).
A couple of EPs (Bydd Wych and Cellar Songs), a three-track single and a clutch of individual songs, interlaced with memorable live performances, have sparely punctuated Meilir’s last decade as a solo musician.
He has always taken his own time. Meilir's work is intimate and personal, and you can hear in this album why he would want to craft alone at the pace the music dictated - each of In Tune’s nine innovative tracks brilliantly express a keen creative self-awareness.
The first song - It Begins - offers a ratcheting of tension and soon-to-be-met anticipation as a repeated, rolling piano motif is swept up by machine gun bursts of drumming, waves of synth and a precisely percussive typewriter.
From that opening composition until the unsettling digital majesty of the closing piece, This Moment, the album presents a continuous, compelling flow of exqusitely detailed emotional fragility and sonic magnificence.
Highlights are reached quickly.
Next is a beautifully arranged, plaintive, caustic almost-love song (originally recorded for the Arabella EP) with a mournful trumpet illuminating the song’s most delicate moments.
Glasshouse (previously released on New Moons Vol X, a compilation from independent label Killing Moon Records) has its own peculiar magic spun from stately piano chords, layered, interweaving rhythms and a trademark emotive vocal.
Ydy’r Ffordd Yn Glir showcases how Meilir has worked productively in tandem with long-term collaborator and producer Charlie Francis (R.E.M., The High Llamas, Sweet Baboo). Originally an a capella piece, the song's final edit sees plangent, pealing notes from a wind chime lead into a ghostly, cloistered vocal and tidal washes of keyboard, before the rush of energy from a pulsing beat drives the song into flight.
In the past Meilir has opened for The Joy Formidable, supported Cate Le Bon, Tiny Ruins, Faust and Michael Rother (NEU), as well as delivering a series of high-profile festival performances. In Tune will open more stages to his uncommon artistry - as such an imaginative, profound and abruptly soulful album must.
MEILIR I Ydy’r Ffordd Yn Glir