REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha


Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Welsh-language folk/dub/rock sextet follow up self-titled debut that’s been five years in the making.

tincian'Tincian' by 9Bach is out now on Real World Records

Yes, that’s right; folk/dub/rock… there are also plenty of other genres covered within these 10 songs and yet this somehow makes it even easier to listen to than their eponymous debut, released in 2009. The first thing to mention about this record is its title. Tincian doesn’t really mean anything but at the same time means so many things. The word is semi-onomatopoeic; a clinking, clanking mess of noise to paraphrase lead vocalist Lisa Jen, but that’s far from an accurate description of the record as a whole. This is often the case with Welsh-language albums; due to the age of the language, it is a regular occurrence that an English word is tampered with to make it ‘look’ more Welsh… a language ripe for puns. When said out loud, 9Bach pretty much translates as ‘little grandmother’. Gruff Rhys – a regular collaborator with Jen -  has been a keen purveyor of this with his solo work as were his band Super Furry Animals (who’s ‘Mwng’ album is an obvious reference point here). One would assume that a non-Welsh speaker (such as myself) would have a bit of a hard time in getting into this record, but not a bit of it; it’s just as enjoyable to this ignorant monoglot as most things thrust into my purview. The musicianship and the sublime vocal talents on show here are good enough to make you want to find out more about the ten songs on show here, and there are plenty of places to look. One of the main aims of the record – according to the band – is that they want to take the experience and culture of North Wales out to a much wider audience; undoubtedly why Real World Records have released it. Aside from the outstanding vocals (there really aren’t enough superlatives for Lisa Jen’s voice, but I’ll try and cram some more in), the star of the show on ‘Tincian’ is the bass of Dan Swain. It is definitely the most prominent instrument in the mix in many of the songs and leads to some of the albums ‘dubbiest’ and ambient moments. None more so than in opener ‘Lliwiau’ (
‘Colours’) where it creates a menacing music bed, perfectly offset by the other instruments; from the traditional harp to the more modern effect-laden guitars. Sometimes, the instruments are so relaxed that is left down to the band’s three female members to create the harmonies to keep the listener interested. This is by no means a stomping singalong record and certainly not one to get the party started. None of the songs keep up a particularly fast pace; the opening track is the only one that clocks in at under four minutes so you certainly get your money’s worth here. The band ‘borrow’ a little idea from Laurie Anderson’s ‘O Superman’ for ‘Plentyn’ (
‘Children’) which is definitely the album’s standout track both here and as part of their always-excellent live shows. One of which you should attend soon. You’ll find something new to appreciate each time you listen to ‘Tincian’; some might need to give it more time than others, but it’s definitely a rewarding listen in the end; just you wait and see.
Rating: 8 out of 10

Live Dates: 05 June LONDON - Sebright Arms / 06 June BRIGHTON - Komedia Studio