Gwenifer Raymond - Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain
Guitarist Gwenifer Raymond, having been involved in DIY punk from an early age, approaches folk music with the same spirit. Her music, which is very much in the American Primitive school, is simple and rough around the edges, and of course all the more interesting and beautiful for it.
Following her acclaimed 2018 debut album, You Never Were Much Of A Dancer, Raymond looked closer to home for inspiration when writing Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain. Classical and experimental tones reach their way into the music here, but importantly, so does the experience of growing up in Wales - specifically Taff's Well, a village at the foot of the omnipresent Garth mountain, between a roaring river Taff and the railway lines that carried the long coal trains out of the Valleys. There is much here that mirrors the semi-industrial mountain ranges of Appalachia that informed the loose style and contrasting textures of the bastardised bluegrass sound of American Primitive Guitar.
"My new album, Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain, has eight songs in it. All were recorded in a basement flat in central Brighton, locked-down amidst a global pandemic. I recorded them myself and neither I, nor any of the songs saw said outbreak coming. Coronavirus may have dictated the circumstance under which the album was recorded but it did not otherwise inform any of the compositions that run through it; like I said, we didn't see it coming. Growing up in Wales was not a theme strongly present in my first record (perhaps not too surprising in an album of 'American Primitive'), but I feel as though my memories of that time have started to insinuate themselves in the tunes here. In my opinion, landscape does a lot to shape a community's folk music; from my childhood I recall tall, spooky trees, black against the grey sky, breath misting in cold air, and I have tried to take something of Welsh folk horror to make my own 'Welsh Primitive'. Whilst this isn't the only theme present in the album, childhood memories do form the background for a couple of tracks: coal trains steaming along the foot of our garden, rattling the glasses on the kitchen table; and the titular 'Strange Lights...' dancing above the peak of the mountain which loomed over the house where I grew up. Dead men also feature prominently, as well as personal tragedies and the madness of touring.
"It's possible this album is leaning more into the left-field than the first - the songs are longer and more 'compositional' for lack of a better word, rather than deriving so heavily from the folk and blues traditions, though, they're still there - all of those dead men are hard to shake. Some parts go fast and others go slow. Sometimes I play more aggressively than I intend to and other times I play exactly as aggressively as I intend to. I still say it's punk music and I have no idea what key the last tune is in. For Erik Satie, Master Wilburn Burchette, and Ruben the dog" - Gwenifer Raymond
Hell For Certain
Worn Out Blues
Marseilles Bunkhouse, 3AM
Gwaed Am Gwaed
Eulogy For Dead French Composer
Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain
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