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A review of...
Le Kov by Gwenno
Le Kov (written and sung entirely in Cornish), follows Gwenno's superb 2015 album Y Dydd Olaf (written and sung entirely in Welsh). This isn't just an album which happens to be sung in Cornish though, it actually lives and breathes the language and region, delving into some of the myths and legends of Cornwall, and in particular the role theat women have played in Cornish history. It's fair to say that Gwenno has a keen interest in researching her topics, and it's certainly an impressive feat, especially for the majority of us who struggle to speak just one language, but this isn't just a quirk or a history lesson (for those that can understand the words), it's also another amazing record.
Opener "Hy a Skoellyas Lyf a Dhagrow" is pure Gainsbourg (it manages to sound like both Charlotte and Serge), and that glimmering, minimal ambience - which I always liken to 60s spy movie soundtracks - continues into "Tir Ha Mor", one of the standout tracks from this record (a highlight of her career infact). The link with Serge Gainsbourg is also apparent from a production perspective, as the stark bass and drums have a simple but prominent role, similar to Serge's classic Histoire De Melody Nelson. Regular collaborator Rhys Edwards is again on board and the two create a rich and fascinating sound collage which delves into garage, Sci-Fi, pulsing electro and icy ambience. Other standout moments include "Daromres y'n Howl", which features Gruff Rhys and channels the wonky pop of Cate le Bon, and "Den Heb Taves" which - atmospherically - strays into much darker territory.
Generally speaking, Le Kov is a more ambitious and fleshed out collection than her Lo-Fi debut, but it still has that distinct Gwenno feel. It's been a long time coming, but Gwenno is back with a bang.