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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci May 27, 2017

Posted by Aonrud ⚘ in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

Welsh psychadelic rock/pop group Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci were active in the 90s and early 2000s.

Their earliest albums in particular are a fantastic jumble of psychadelic and silly, with experimental sounds and, sometimes cheesy, pop melodies merging together or even just appended to one another in an abrupt tonal shift, all in a mixture of Welsh and English. Most of their songs were written by Euros Childs and John Lawrence, organ and guitar players respectively.

I first heard them around the time of their third album, Bwyd Time (1995). We got the Welsh channels on our TV where I grew up, and finding a programme on S4C about GZM instead of a film on Channel 4 was one of the few occasions that was an advantage! A lot of the videos below are from that same programme, which turned up on Youtube some years back. Here’s Miss Trudy:

Also from Bwyd Time, The Man with Salt Hair:

The live version of Blood Chant, which differs from the album in treating it as a round:

A lot of their singles over the years were released separately from the albums or on EPs, including If Fingers Were Xylophones, which came around the same time as Bwyd Time:

There’s a clear Soft Machine fondness in their early stuff – I suspect I heard their cover of Why Are We Sleeping? before the original version – and their second album, Tatay, includes a cover of Robert Wyatt’s O Caroline, as well as the fantastic tribute to Kevin Ayers below, which sounds like the GZM take on Ayers’ Oyster and the Flying Fish.

Kevin Ayers:

In 1997 they released Barafundle, which I think marks a balance point in their albums, being much more cleanly put together and recorded, but still having a lot of the whimsy of early albums. Starmoonsun is a good summary of the GZM style at that time – catchy pop melodies, abrupt shifts in texture, through instrumentation or key, and no song can’t be improved by singing ‘la la la’ in a high register (a rule of thumb a lot of musicians who take themselves too seriously could do with trying out 🙂 ).

Also from Barafundle, Miniature Kingdoms:

Here they are on Jools Holland from that time, playing two thoroughly poppy singles. (The touch of country in Childs’ melody writing is clear in the first as well, which is more prominent in his later solo work).

Gorky 5, the last album to feature John Lawrence, and certainly Spanish Dance Troupe (their sixth album), are more cleanly melodic. As with many groups after that many albums, the sound had settled into a less experimental and more consistent style, but still contain some great songs.

From Lawrence, the instrumental Not Yet:

And from Spanish Dance Troupe, Poodle Rockin’:

It’s only about a year ago that I remembered I’d never tracked down their first album, Patio. Obviously that’s a much easier task these days, and there it is on Youtube – a brilliant cobbling-together of various home recordings over a few years of their teens (they’re young enough that there are some fairly high male voices in there 🙂 ). To be fair, it is a bit of a mess of an album, but still compelling.

Here’s Lladd Eich Gwraig (there’s one line of English in there, which stands out as entertainingly sinister for non-Welsh speakers who are getting used to not understanding the words.  I assume an intentional effect):

To finish off, here’s a great jumble of noise and video from early in their career:


1. WorldbyStorm - May 27, 2017

A great great band.


Aonrud ⚘ - May 27, 2017

They really are. Though picking the songs above, I remembered I did lose interest after album number six – there are a couple more, but they don’t stand out.


WorldbyStorm - May 27, 2017

It’s a law of diminishing returns perhaps. I always loved the vocals both Welsh and otherwise.


2. Phil - May 29, 2017

Nice, but the weedy vocals are a barrier for me, I’m afraid; my loss. I liked the garbled studio chat at the start of “Kevin Ayers” – a word-for-word(!) recreation of the garbled studio chat at the start of “Song for insane times” from _Joy of a Toy_. The other thing that struck me was the early song “Lladd eich gwraig”, whose creepiness doesn’t end with the one English line – the title, repeated several times in the chorus, means “Kill your wife”. (I’ve found a translation of the lyrics, and it seems to be about somebody having a breakdown.)


Aonrud ⚘ - May 29, 2017

I didn’t notice that about Joy of a Toy – that’s great.

And true about Lladd eich gwraig too. I’ve looked up translations sometimes, but the effect when listening as a non-Welsh speaker, even with a half-remembered jist of the lyrics, I thought made that English line pop out a lot!

Regarding the singing, I suppose I can see what you mean. Though one of the things I always liked about them was singing in their own voice, not just language-wise obviously, but avoiding the American accent and rasp.


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