Y NIWL (ADERYN PAPUR)
"Wrap up warm for some fantastic old-weather surf' from the not-so balmy coasts of North Wales." The Guardian.
Given its abundance of beaches, it's something of a surprise to note that the brilliant debut album from Y Niwl - pronounced h Nule' and translated as he Fog' - is the first Welsh surf pop album ever made (as far as we know).
"We're probably the first Welsh language instrumental surf band, if that makes sense," say the band.
Y Niwl's sound is something special; surf pop with a bit of garage punk edge; classic instrumental melodies that sound familiar but new.
Inspired by the likes of Dick Dale, The Surfaris, The Champs, Joe Meek, The Shadows - rather than their environment.
"North West Wales isn't an environment you'd usually associate with surf music," they say.
"Instead of sexy Californians cruising along a beach in their sunglasses, think hairy men in anoraks huddled together for warmth in a mountainside cottage." The album track names are all numbers in Welsh (though, confusingly for Welsh people, not reflective of the album sequence), lending an air of austerity to the self-titled album.
"We started out as a surf rock band only, and stuck with that religiously until we realised some of the stuff we'd written had little or no surf influence," they say.
"After that we tried to open ourselves up a bit more to experiment with different sounds and allow different influences to show.
By this point I'd describe it as more of deformed cold water surf music." The album was made with a huge concern for authenticity.
It was recorded onto tape using decades-old techniques at Wales's Bryn Derwen studio with engineer David Wrench (a member of Julian Cope's Black Sheep, producer for Euros Childs, engineer for Bat for Lashes, James Yorkston, British Sea Power and Hot Chip).
Vintage gear was used where possible because - as the band note - "it costs a bomb these days!" And the whole thing was recorded live: no overdubs, just a heap of reverb.
"Most of our material is edited jams," they say. "We usually record ourselves jamming then take out the best bits and form a song.
Other times, someone will come up with an idea and we'll work around that in the bassist's cottage in a little Snowdonia village.
They've had electricity for nearly a year now, so that's made rehearsing much easier." Y Niwl formed when a couple of the guys started getting into surf music, before soon expanding to the line up it is today - Alun Evans (guitar), Peter Richardson (drums), Sion Glyn (bass) and Gruff ab Arwel (organ and guitar).
The unofficial fifth member is artist Llyr Pierce. "It was only a matter of time before the band rota switched to us four," they say.
"The appeal of not having to write lyrics was too much to resist!" Live