|Dulog Review: From the Margins
To set the course straight from the outset this is a gentle but masterfully realised folk album.
Brigyn are two brothers, Ynyr and Eurig Roberts from Snowdonia. They have a long history of successful musical exploration in folk and electronica, dating back to their debut in 2004; Os na wnei di adael nawr is a particularly good example of how they mixed the two superbly even as they started out.
Released at the end of 2015, a year after their previous album Brigyn 4, their fifth full collection Dulog (which means 'Armadillo') is pure folk. Launched at the end of the year celebrating the 150th anniversary of Y Wladfa, the Welsh settlement in Argentina, there is a strongly mined seam of Patagonian influence running through it.
The links to the Y Wladfa celebrations are found strongly in the history, stories and mood/s of the songs, but also in the local musicians involved. Two brothers, Alejandro and Leonardo Jones, of Trevelin in the Andes, contribute to Fan hyn (Aqui) - which is sung in both Spanish and Welsh - and Nicolas Avila's bandoneon is present almost through the whole set. Nicolas, from Comodoro Rivadavia, came to Wales specifically to work and tour with Brigyn in 2015.
Dulog also features a conspicuous number of Welsh based collaborators and guests - the duet Ffenest with Casi Wyn is the one of the album's twin peaks (Malacara is the other) - there is a track written by Emyr Huws Jones, Rhywle mae 'na afon, and appearances by Osian Huw Williams (Candelas/Siddi), Llyr Pari (Palenco/Y Niwl), Mei Gwynedd (Big Leaves/Sibrydion) and Rob Reed (Magenta/Kompendium).
Dulog opens with Dôl y Plu - delicate picked guitar and voices in waves as soft as sleep - before Emyr Huws Jones' perfectly framed hopeful, pastoral lyrics in Rhywle mae 'na afon. The next song, Ana, has a Spanish lilt in the guitar - Llwybrau that follows it has a band setting for an evocative song about the life journey and travails to finally find a loved one.
Then Malacara is an atmospheric piece of brilliance to my ears - a song about a horse famous in the Welsh settlement of Patagonia, who saved his rider from pursuers by leaping a ravine - with a rich sense of the story, its setting and its pace in the music.
Next Fan hyn (Aqui) - the two languages and two sets of brothers' voices alternating and intertwining to remarkable effect.
There is a brief, part whistled instrumental, Quincho, before the showstopper Ffenest ('Window') - which features Casi. Ffenest is wonderful - and demonstrates how well the brothers can create a dynamic, beautiful song with the right but minimal elements - in this case for the most part voices, guitar and piano. Gorgeously produced, delicate, and perfect down to the last decaying acoustic guitar notes.
There are two bonus live tracks - Deffro with bandoneon prominent, has real swing in its step, as does the last song Pentre Sydyn.
With its sense of history and place, inventiveness, collaborators, and well judged composition and production, Dulog is a great album, a real musical delight.
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