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Sunday, 14 May, 2000, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
CD Review: Super Furry Animals
Super Furry Animals
Super Furry Animals - Mwng (Placid Casual)
By the BBC's Nigel Packer

Prepare for an album with a difference, and not just because it's sung entirely in Welsh.

The Cardiff quintet's return to their cultural roots is accompanied by a back-to-basics approach to recording. The result is an album knocked out for a cool 6,000 - less than many bands of similar status would spend on the studio catering.

Inevitably the sound quality of Mwng - meaning "Mane" - is basic, but the musical scope is vast for what is essentially little more than a demo.

In a single step the band have re-sharpened their musical edge and shown that a little imagination can still win out over any amount of studio trickery.

Super Furry Animals' Mwng
Mwng - basic sound quality, but vast musical scope

One-minute opener Drygioni ("Badness") is as sweet as it is short - a glam rock cameo with fizzing guitars and clunking cowbells.

Ymaelodi A'r Ymylon (Joining The Periphery) is awash with the silkiest harmonies this side of the West Coast - that's California, not Pembrokeshire - while the charmingly titled Y Gwyneb Lau (Liverface) is carried along by a lone, drifting trumpet.

The band's first cover version - Datblygu's 1984 song Y Teimlad (The Feeling) - is a highlight, although for sheer spectacle nothing can match the beautiful two-part closing track Gwreiddiau Dwfn (Deep Roots)/Mawrth Oer Ar Y Blaned Neifion (A Cold Mars On Neptune).

Rolf Harris

Gruff Rhys' lilting tones are given plenty of unusual backing - from glockenspiel to harmonium - although the band are equally happy to mutate back into super fuzzy animals for the likes of the riff-laden Ysbeidiau Heulog (Sunny Intervals).

Meanwhile, every cost is spared in the effects department, as antique phased guitars compete for space with Rolf Harris' finest contribution to the world of music - the Stylophone. Unfortunately Rolf's other favourite instrument - the wobble board - fails to appear.

Lyrically, Gruff covers a wide range of topics - from the death of rural communities to beehives and transport infrastructure - although those without Welsh (or in this case a press release) will need to tap into the forthcoming Mwng website for translations.

Elsewhere the old cliche about music being the universal language is much in evidence, with the Super Furries proving once more that they are fluent speakers.

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24 Nov 99 | Wales
Super Furries return to roots
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