Ysgol Sul : Eventide EP30.09.17
Ysgol Sul (English: Sunday School) are a three piece band from Llandeilo, West Wales, comprising Iolo Jones (singer, guitarist), Llew Davies (drummer) and Cian Owen (bass guitar).
Founded in 2014, they released a clutch of Welsh language singles (see Aberystwyth yn y Glaw) and an EP, Huno, over their first two years. Notable for creating dreamy, shoegazing indie music, they rapidly developed a committed following.
In 2016 they were picked for the BBC Horizons scheme, gaining wider attention; in that same year their jaunty contribution to the I Ka Ching 5 compilation, Promenad, hinted at a musical shift in emphasis - described as a hybrid of The Strokes and Vampire Weekend.
A year on they have picked up further confidence and momentum for Eventide, a self-released second EP. For its opening four tracks they now tear about in their dream-indie dodgem in a space somewhere between The Vaccines and The Smiths.
As a further change all the new EP's songs are sung, rich voiced, in English.
Eventide opens with the jangle of Silhouette; a bright and breezy tune belying a scathing lyric. Second track Promise Me is truest to their early sound, with the surf audible in its guitar line; if you are looking for long-time producer Llyr Pari's (Y Niwl, Palenco) clearest mark, here is where you will find it. Next Elsewhere's percussive, metronomic bass line is enveloped by drifts of just-discordant chords, and the chiming indie pop sophistication of Dwell (the song most achingly infused with the influence of The Smiths) sets up a grand finale.
And what a close it is. Solitude is a musical statement that elevates the EP from a simple 'very good' rating to one indicating serious potential. Undoubtedly krautrock influenced, the track has the ghost of a debt to Can / Neu! hedged with some of the guitar spark of The House of Love's early recordings with Creation. Its bleak, existential lyrics complete a dark, impelling, wrap-around soundscape:
"Spent my youth in solitude,
Give me the truth,
And I'll give mine to you."
Ysgol Sul have had a period of swift, impressive development and the result is this remarkable EP; once the last chord has faded the future promise of this music still matters.