Gwenno Saunders’ lovely new Welsh Paranoid Kosmiche Seduction

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My first love was a Welsh woman. She was wickedly smart and beautiful and mysterious.

I also went to school out on the Main Line in Philadelphia, where for reasons I never did quite grasp, had a bunch of densely wooded neighborhoods and streets with big foreboding mansions with Welsh names.

Consequently, although I can recognize it when I see it (just look for extremely bold configurations of consonants with occasional vowels), the Welsh language is loaded with a creepy erotic essence to me and could for all intents and purposes just as easily be Venusian and/or a complex mathematical equation.

Forgive me. I know that sounds terribly insulting, particularly considering that modern English is essentially a bastardization of the Olde English that was probably just an offshoot of primitive Celtic language, but I digress….what I’m trying to get at, with all sincerity, is that Welsh is as mystifyingly beautiful as it is really freaking weird.

Do you know the early-mid 2000s retro girl group: The Pipettes? Well, one of them, Gwenno Saunders, happens to be Welsh and has released a really really good, bewitching solo album called Y Dydd Olafafter a 70s dystopian sci-fi novel by a Welsh novelist named Owain Owain. Ok? So, from what I’ve read about them, but don’t know for sure (because I don’t know the language) is that the novel and consequently Gwenno’s album, are about men vs robots trying to make men robots by getting in their heads.


Like all resounding and infinitely relatable sci-fi, the core of the thing is something having to do with self-preservation, volition and identity. Her album is hauntingly beautiful and awesome (like Jane Weaver’s The Silver Globe) in that it has Stereolab’s echoey, feminine version of mod-motorik. But, the combination of language and delivery take it to a whole other realm altogether, where it takes on a cinematic quality. Like renting a warped VHS tape of Tarkovsky’s version of The Wicker Man…or Poland’s version of Logan’s Run or Zardoz or something.

I’m projecting a lot of hauntology here. I’m sorry. But, the fact is this Gwenno album is jarring in all the right ways and is worth you looking for because only then will you begin to accept and understand all the things you can’t possibly understand about it. But, you’ll probably love it. And doesn’t that feel good?

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