The Best Albums of 2015, #4

band014. Gwenno, Y Dydd Olaf (Heavenly)

Like any other new music enthusiast, the desire to find something new and unique fuels my entire obsession. I love to stumble across an album that so strangely combines just he right elements that appeal to me, as well as others that I might never thought I’d listen to. So when a former member of a girl band puts together a kraut-pop sci-fi concept album sung entirely in Welsh, then yeah, you’ve got all bases pretty much covered there. Ten years ago Gwenno Saunders was cheerily singing “Pull Shapes” and “Dirty Mind” with indie pop darlings the Pipettes, a band I adored. And still do to this day, I blast “Pull Shapes” with regularity. Today Gwenno is a rising Welsh auteur who has put together one of the most original, creative albums of the year, one I stumbled upon thanks to a Quietus review and so blindsided me with its effortless charm. A concept album inspired by Owain Owain’s science fiction novel of the same name, Y Dydd Olaf combines airy European synthpop (think Stereolab) with the trance-inducing krautrock of Can and Neu!, making for a wonderfully cosmic, or kosmische rather, experience that extracts great beauty out of gentle, minimalist arrangements. For those who don’t understand Welsh, Saunders’ singing sounds even more otherworldly, only adding to the record’s mystical quality. Still, though, when singing in an obscure language you still require melodies that do the bulk of the communicating, and the gentle hooks on each and every one of these ten tracks are extraordinary, both in their simplicity and their effectiveness. These are sly little ear worms that wriggle into your head, mystical melodies that so invade your subconsciousness that you dream them. When I dream a melody it signals a complete obsession with it. It doesn’t happen often, but it did with this album, and once I made the connection that the hook I head came from it, I needed it in my life even more. It’s weird how that happens, but it does, and it’s a testament to just how magical Y Dydd Olaf is. So clever is Gwenno’s work on this record that it’s easy to understand why it’s warranted to call her the best Welsh musical export since Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. (Spotify) (YouTube)