Ffynnon, Celtic Music From Wales

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The seductive sound of Welsh folk music.

Wales has recently experienced its own revival, both of language and music. But Ffynnon shun the nation's traditional harp for the much sparer, moody sound of bass, voices and keyboards. Dave Reid's elastic bass work is the musical spine of the band, and when he's given free rein, as on "Y Rhaeadr," he uses it to full advantage. There's plenty of beauty here — just listen to the way to voices blend on "Cwcw Fach" — but there's also plenty to challenge the mind — "Llys Ifor Hael" keeps the vocal melody at odds with the rest of the song to create an unsettling tension, and "Goshawk" flirts with atonality. Yet they also look outside the Welsh borders, not just to other countries in the Celtic sphere, but even across to England ("Felton Lonnin," a Northumbrian song they shape to fit their sparse ethos). Overall, it's nothing you'd expect from Welsh folk music, seducing rather than overwhelming, and that unexpectedness is part of its beauty.