Ankst records

"Neighbours, everybody needs good door is only a phone-code away". That's right, 01224 is Bedford and 01222 is...erm...Cardiff. Spiritual neighbours then, and home of Ankst records, the Peel-endorsed indie that brought you Super Furry Animals, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and the musical talent that is Ian Rush. Despite there being a concerted media attempt to make something of the fact that there's more than a few decent Welsh bands around at the moment, there's no "label sound" with Ankst, their bands range from the wierdy guitar-pop of the Super Furries through the wierdy space-pop of Ectogram and Melys to the techno-wierdy WWzz and dub/rap wierdness of Llwybr Llaethog, taking in the big band grandeur of (the moderately wierd) Rheinhalt H. Rowlands on the way, not to mention the wilderness that is their back-catalogue. Thoroughly eclectic then, but united by a common thread: most of the bands perform some songs in Welsh, and that's not the Welsh of male voice choirs, that's the Welsh of full-on musical experimentation and glory. With an e.p. from relative new-comers Topper out soon (release number 80) and almost 10 years in existence, what better time to review a few of the recent releases and see what you've been missing...

Ectogram, Eliot's violet hour (7"/CDS)

You might think this is St. Etienne--for a minute at least--the sugar-sweet girl vocals and lush, yet funky, full-fat pop pull you in, then a violent noisy blast coshes you on the bridge of the nose and pokes you in the eye before salving your injuries with more savlon-pop. Sounds like Pram or Broadcast at their best.

Llwybr Llaethog, Mera desh/Mondo mando (7")

"Excuse me, I'm British" says some over-privileged BBC announcer before a truckload of Eastern rhythms, some muezzin-style wailing and breathy chanting combine with no little groove to give a fine mellow 3 minutes, up there with Asian Dub Foundation and, particularly, Black Star Liner. "Mondo mando" is a head-first techno assault, slapping one of those big fairground organs--you know, with the little mannequins that rotate on sticks--down onto a lump-hammer beat.

Melys, Cuckoo/Fragile e.p. (7"/CDS and 12"/CDS)

Two recent Melys releases, both not a million miles away from Ectogram, with a bubbling electro sound on "Cuckoo", a stew of sounds--Broadcast are a good starting point again, or perhaps Dubstar, but that would have to be Dubstar in full techno-colour rather than the drab uninspiring brown they've displayed so far. The "Fragile e.p." is 4 glorious pop songs, a couple mesmerising in their simplicity, a couple mesmerising in their elegance, totally incomprehensible (to me), but sounding exquisite.

Topper, Something to tell her (10"/CD)

Probably the most serious chart-contenders since Super Furry Animals graced the label, this is psychedelic, Pink Floydy, 70's poppy nonsense. Pop is the (p)operative word and they use it with relish, every song's a single; every note is belted out like there's not going to be another record. This is the time to enjoy Topper, buy it now!

David Wrench, Blow winds blow (CD/LP)

It's hard not to say Nick Cave--but who ever heard Cave sing in beautifully dark Welsh as Wrench does here on "Dues yna Ddim" but sadly nowhere else, the rest of the lyrics being English. It's still a worthwhile maudlin listen, but it could've been so much more mysterious.

Where to get it from

The beauty of the web, as Sebadoh might say, it that instead of laboriously typing out the entire Ankst catalogue here, we can just link and you can just whip off over there to order your favourites. Don't just take our word for what sounds good though, there's tons of Real Audio so listen for yourself.

If you're of a more luddite nature, order your Ankst releases/catalogues from: 106 Heol Dwyrain Y Bontfaen, Caerdydd, CF1 9DX. At the moment (July '97) they're doing a free compilation CD as well, just send your name and address---and tell 'em we sent you!

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