Y Bardd Anfarwol is a fascinating and rather novel concept for an album, born out of a British Council-sponsored 6 week residency of Welsh artist Gareth Bonello (aka the Gentle Good) in the Chinese city of Chengdu. Also playing on the album are Laura Martin (flute) and 9Bach’s Lisa Jen. Y Bardd Anafarwol also features the UK Chinese Ensemble and a number of other artists including a string quartet.
The songs and tunes certainly have a dominant and attractive Chinese theme, being based around the life story of Li Bai, a Tang Dynasty poet, but overlaid with Welsh language lyrics and both Chinese and Welsh traditional music.
The use of Welsh, classical and Chinese instruments makes an impressive blend and the album achieves the feat of making the traditions feel very natural together. The story follows the protagonist through life, from home into a mountain retreat, with the music reflecting a wide range of situations and environments.
Marwnad Chang-Kan is the lonely lament of Li Bai’s wife, made deeply emotive by the flute playing of Laura Martin.
Another highlight is Edau Gwyn, a story of ageing, with the lyric describing a weaver’s addition of white strands to the hair. This latter track has a excellent chanted introduction. Antiffoni uses Chinese instruments to the full to depict the serenity of the mountains.
A beautiful piece of work, serene, thoughtful and consistently engaging.Mike Hough
Released 27 January 2014 on Bubblewrap Records.
1. Erddigan chengdu
3. Yr wylan fry
4. Ymadael dinas brenin gwyn
5. Marwnad chang-kan
6. Meddyliau distaw’r nos
7. Yfed gyda’r lleuad
8. Brwydr an lu?shan
9. Edau gwyn
10. Afon arian
11. Bore braf