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Bran (Brân) - Ail-Ddechra CD (album) cover


Bran (Brân)


Prog Folk

2.76 | 8 ratings

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3 stars A Welsh group playing rock music or a rock group playing Welsh music, or some combination thereof? The answer in the case of Brân, seems to be "yes". Their debut was a battleground of tired rock idioms of the 1970s and plaintive ballads from some other century's 70s, with the modern rock notching the win.

The identity crisis is apparent from the outset, with the rock and roll oriented "Y Ddôr Ddig', notable only for its oddly chosen mellotron backing, and is repeated in various guises throughout the album. Things get more interesting with "Y Gwylwyr", which combined both forces to some degree, as a catchy yet clunky riff is played off against Nest Howells' beseeching voice, and the somewhat less dynamic "Myfyrdod ". Among quieter numbers, "Rhodiaf Hen Lwybrau" evokes early CLANNAD at their best, but with Nest's own rolling piano replacing the harp, and "Caledfwlch" is slightly jazzier with added flute and gently acidic electric guitar.

The real highlights are the two final cuts. The haunting "Y Crewr " sports Nest's best vocals and warm electric pian, with more trippy distorted guitar. The piano dominated instrumental "Breuddwyd " shows that Nest has more than a little of an understated Wakeman in her. It's unlike anything the group ever did, and might also be the tune for which they are best known.

Brân remains most notable for its ties to the as yet unformed PERERIN than for their own material, and, even though their debut is a good album, its schizophrenia and general paucity of focused inspiration mean it is unlikely to achieve much regularity in your playlist.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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