Ceri Shaw


 

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viA fAntAsticA  release their new album  '2 any 1'    on the 29th of March. It is preceded by the lead single  ‘Onstage, right now....’  a tapestry of percussive loops, synth waves and found sound samples that reassembles early 90s rave culture and echoes of 60s pop, and makes it vital, it's an intriguing introduction to the aural voyage viA fAntAsticA will take you on throughou t ‘2 any 1’.  Watch the accompanying video  here.  

viA fAntAsticA is J.T. and Gaia de Voxx on a DIY synth pop journey. J.T. is Justin Toland, erstwhile purveyor of loops and found sound on Recordiau Peski and self-released cassettes under the name Location Baked. Gaia de Voxx is his droid vocalist.

 2 any 1 is the debut album by viA fAntAsticA. It’s about songs, tunes, accessibility, reaching out.  Influences  range from mass market and under-the-radar 80s synth pop ( Yazoo, Human League, Fad Gadget ) to contemporary Puerto Rican electronic indie ( Los Wálters, Buscabulla ).

2 any 1 began as an imaginary soundtrack to a 21st century kitchen sink drama set in the faded seaside resort of Porthcawl. That was the inspiration for the Italo disco stylings of  ‘Meet me at Sidoli’s',  the electronic surf rock of  ‘Never surf again’ , lover’s lament  ‘Not waving but crying’ , and the incidental noir of  ‘Fog and mirrors’ . When Covid scuppered those plans, the album began to take a different shape: less conceptual, more personal, more free-ranging.

So there are songs and tunes about Cardiff communities and community action, including  ‘Row Town’ (Roath), ‘Rebuild the Poets’,  and  ‘Agents of Change’ , which nods to Toland’s found sound roots, with its field recording from a Save Guildford Crescent demo.

There are tracks based around loops and inspirations, including  ‘Must be built’,  which searches for the essence of the Hacienda nightclub,  ‘Swim-up bar blues’, ‘Cowley’,  and lead single  ‘Onstage, right now…’.

And above all, there are things that just sound good and sound right, like  ‘Gwawr' , like  ‘Stomp stomp’ . So we’re releasing them, releasing this album – 2any1 – in '21. Are you listening?

"chuntering machine-driven backing somewhere between early 80s minimal synth and mid-80s electro...expansive array of semi-ambient keyboards and proto-techno rhythms."  Buzz Magazine




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unnamed.jpg Wales is known as ‘the land of song’ and the Welsh are renowned for their love of hymns – perhaps no other nation has sung them with such fervour. This passion is celebrated in a new comprehensive history of hymn writing and singing in Wales and amongst the Welsh diaspora in North America.  A Nation of Singing Birds: Sermon and Song in Wales and Among the Welsh in America  by Ronald Rees (Y Lolfa) looks at the time between the Protestant Revivals in the late 18 th  century until the present day. 

Described as “Lively, entertaining, and valuable – a real gem” by the journalist, presenter and newsreader Huw Edwards, the book considers the influences of key figures such as William Williams Pantycelyn and Ira Sankey also examines rhythmic elements in Welsh preaching. 

Author, Ronald Rees, said:

“Two particular incidents led to the writing of this book. The most recent was my reading of Barbara Ehrenreich’s  Dancing in the Street . Her book is about the need, manifested throughout human history, for communal expressions of feeling – in dance, parade and song. The other incident was a combined concert and  cymanfa ganu  held at St David’s Hall, Cardiff about forty years ago. The concert performers were members of Rhondda’s peerless Pendyrus Choir, led by the late Glynne Jones. The singing was hair-raising. As the final repeated chorus died, a deeply moved Glynne Jones let the hall grow silent and said quietly and reverently: ‘This is who we are.’” 

Painstakingly researched in libraries and archives in both Wales and America, and encompassing information from emigrant letters and diaries and local newspapers of the period, this definitive history tells how hymns and the religious movements and revivals spread via Welsh emigrants to religious communities of the USA. For example, it was a group of Welsh migrants to Utah, led by John Parry, who formed the nucleus of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 

“To engage their audiences, Welsh preachers at home and in America often delivered their sermons with a discernible cadence or rhythm in which sound could be as important as meaning. By combining the persuasive power of the word with the emotive power of music, assemblies could be brought to states ranging from spiritual readiness to hysteria. In our own times there are echoes of the mesmerizing, cadenced style in the recorded speeches of Dr Martin Luther King and the poetry readings of Dylan Thomas. Thomas’s great-uncle, Gwilym Marles Thomas, was a Welsh Congregationalist minister.” 

“My objective was to explore how hymns, and the religious movements and Revivals of which they were part, fired the Welsh imagination. The chapels may have emptied but hymns remain our tribal songs,” said Ronald Rees. 

Born in Skewen and educated at Neath Grammar School, Ronald Rees taught historical geography at the University of Saskatchewan and, as adjunct professor, at Mount Allison University, New Brunswick. He has written books on the Canadian prairies, the Maritime provinces of Canada, garden history, and on science and industry in south Wales. He lives in St Andrews, an historic resort on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick.  

A Nation of Singing Birds: Sermon and Song in Wales and Among the Welsh in America  by Ronald Rees (£12.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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The Lost Mines of Wales (and Nevada)


By Ceri Shaw, 2021-03-08

Have you ever stared into an adit or dark mine shaft on a hillside and wished you could explore further? Or perhaps you would prefer to send somebody else down with a camera and enjoy the experience vicariously? Well the good news is. that thanks to the growing number of intrepid mine explorers on Youtube this is now possible.

My personal favorite ( of the American channels ) is Abandoned and Forgotten Places . With nearly 100 videos to their credit your guides, 'Gly' and 'Mister M' have established a reputation for fearless exploration and high quality video production. Together they reveal the lost wonders and perils of the multitude of abandoned mines in Nevada, Arizona and Calfornia Their videos are graced with frequent touches of humor and you could do worse than lay in a supply of popcorn and a sixpack and binge watch the lot. Of course you'll need a day or two to spare but what better way to spend, what are hopefully, the last, lingering days of 'lockdown'?

And the Welsh connection? Linked from the above channel is Lost Mines a Welsh mine exploration channel which concentrates on the lost metal mines of Wales. here is the channel description:

" A bit about myself (Al), I love Exploring abandoned mines with my good friend Ioan, when I get spare time from my day job which is a crematorium technician, and also do a bit of metal detecting and out on my boat. Ioan Lord has been researching and exploring the metal mines of Wales since the age of 9, and published his first book in 2018 which can be found at https://shop.rheidolrailway.co.uk/products/rich-mountains-of-lead-ioan-lord. He is now on his second and third books, and runs public guided tours of the mines in mid-Wales at https://www.midwalesminetours.com. He is writing a PhD in Welsh History at Cardiff University, and is a Director of the Cambrian Mines and Welsh Mines Preservation Trusts. When he isn’t underground he works on a heritage steam railway as a locomotive fireman. We both enjoy showing the world what's underground and how they did it. "

We thought we would embed an appetizer before you head on over to the channel/s and subscribe. So here it is (see above).... Exploring the Abandoned ALIEN  lost mine ~ Underground Repel! pt 1


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2020 saw two releases from Minas - ‘Drinker’ released in July was a precursor to the upcoming debut album ‘All My Love Has Failed Me’ (releasing later this year) whilst the EP ‘Nudge’ captured the energy (or lack thereof) brought about by lockdown.

‘Burner’ , the next release ahead of the debut album, again stands alone. The track exudes a cool yet angsty vocal that simmers over the top of a steady rhythm and intensely humming bass. Not afraid to spit indignantly at authority Minas questions “How could you call that man there a president?” and as the beat fades away slowly in the second verse he simply states “Fuck the government” before the chorus drops back in again.

Minas is the mononym for James Minas, Greek/Welsh artist and producer based between Cardiff & St David’s in South Wales. When not creating his own music he works as a producer for artists like Welsh Music Prize nominated rapper Luke RV and internationally touring folk artist Dan Bettridge.



Lyrics



Two steps back put your shit down

Two men fled when they hit town

Wise crackers, you’d need half an army to kick out these wise crackers

Two steps back put your shit down

Who let the snakes decide who’s an immigrant

Wise crackers, you’d need half an army to kick out these wise crackers

It’s breaking news

Louder, it’ll work in time

It’s breaking news

Round up, we’re out of time

Two steps back put your shit down

How could you call that man there a president?

Half cut, broke and a let down

But I still show the ropes to my fellow man

GB’s a mess no union

Call it a kingdom I’d say a shithole

5 foot snakes in a green room

They don’t talk like us 'cause they’ve never been down here

Fuck the government

Breaking news

Louder, it’ll work in time

It’s breaking news

Round up, we’re out of time



Reviews for the ‘Nudge’ EP



‘...his music captures an array of sound, intertwining both rap and electronic. Each tune takes us on a voyage through his state of mind, from frustrations to anger and the inevitable self-reflection afterwards.’ - God Is In The TV Zine

On ‘As It Goes’: ‘a subtle tone throughout this track, with a simple guitar melody that creates the groundwork for the vocal delivery to flourish with emotional content. With a flatline vibe it allows the listener to take in every word on this track - showing off the full creative lyrical form from Minas’ - When The Horn Blows



Reviews for ‘Drinker’



‘Drinker is ruthlessly grounded in the realities of the day to day. It’s this authenticity that cuts through.’ - Right Chord Music

‘a fantastic hip-hop inspired electronic track, it has a gorgeously chilled dreamlike melody to it, which catches your interest from the opening beats’ - Alive and Gigging

‘a captivatingly electric track with synthy, feel-good rhythms and modern vocals … thought provoking lyrics that explore the fight with his thoughts ... an unexpected, passionate piece‘ - Rockstate

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Wales’ Tom Auton has announced his brand new single blues-rock single Victim of the Groove will be released on Friday 26 February on all major streaming/download platforms. You can pre-save/listen to the track HERE

Victim of the Groove is a delicious slice of rock that’s infused with disco, to create an unstoppable deep groovy blues sound. The track is about the thoughts that rage inside you when you have a mental block. As Tom eloquently puts it “As a chef, you’d feel incredibly useless if you couldn’t cook anything. The same applies to songwriters when they can’t write songs.”

The track is short, sharp and incredibly catchy with a low-slung monster bass riff in the chorus, which is comprised of 9 different layers. Victim of the Groove is self-produced by Tom at Long wave Studios and mastered by Robin Schmitd (Liam Gallagher, The 1975, Nothing But Thieves).

“Victim of The Groove ironically explores the hatred I have towards myself, when I can’t write a new song. I explore this hatred... by writing a new song. Throughout the verses I frivolously wallow in a pool of self-pity, tearing myself down at every line. Then get to the pre chorus, I explain that self-doubt is part and parcel of being a musician.” says Tom.Victim of the Groove is an ode to self-success, battling with your mental health as you think you can’t reach your own previous successes. It’s one of Tom’s most personal tracks, as he further explains: “I invite people into the world of being an independent artist, cycling between two main emotions; thinking your god’s gift, when you write a good song and feeling worthless, when you can’t. I sum up the song with the title - “I’m a Victim of The Groove”.

The addiction to the groove started in 2016 when Tom received a dreadful mix of a previous single. The control freak within him spiraled out of control and started aggressively buying microphones, mixing plug ins and a laptop. Fast forward 4 years to the present day and Tom is living the true rock and roll dream; producing his own Rock and Blues records at the age of 21 from his own studio ‘The Syncopation Station’ (his parent’s living room). Tom’s produces and co-writes with a number of artists including Dan Owen, John Adams, Amber Leigh Irish and The Voice’s Chanel Yates & Jake O’Neil.

He’s received critical success on his previous records with Mother Mary being added to one of the most prestigious playlists on Spotify All New Rock, BBC Introducing’s Adam Walton calling him “An Incredible Talent” and David Owens, South Wales Echo claiming “Everything Tom touches turns to Gold” Victim of the Groove will be released on Friday 26 February on all major streaming/ download platforms. You can pre-save/listen to the track HERE

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viA fAntAsticA  is J.T. and Gaia de Voxx on a DIY synth pop journey. J.T. is Justin Toland, erstwhile purveyor of loops and found sound on Recordiau Peski and self-released cassettes under the name Location Baked. Gaia de Voxx is his droid vocalist.

2 any 1 is the debut album by viA fAntAsticA. It’s about songs, tunes, accessibility, reaching out. Influences range from mass market and under-the-radar 80s synth pop ( Yazoo, Human League, Fad Gadget ) to contemporary Puerto Rican electronic indie ( Los Wálters, Buscabulla ).

2 any 1  began as an imaginary soundtrack to a 21st century kitchen sink drama set in the faded seaside resort of Porthcawl. That was the inspiration for the Italo disco stylings of  ‘Meet me at Sidoli’s',  the electronic surf rock of  ‘Never surf again’ , lover’s lament  ‘Not waving but crying’ , and the incidental noir of  ‘Fog and mirrors’ . When Covid scuppered those plans, the album began to take a different shape: less conceptual, more personal, more free-ranging.

So there are songs and tunes about Cardiff communities and community action, including  ‘Row Town’ (Roath), ‘Rebuild the Poets’,  and  ‘Agents of Change’ , which nods to Toland’s found sound roots, with its field recording from a Save Guildford Crescent demo.

There are tracks based around loops and inspirations, including  ‘Must be built’,  which searches for the essence of the Hacienda nightclub,  ‘Swim-up bar blues’, ‘Cowley’,  and lead single  ‘Onstage, right now…’.

And above all, there are things that just sound good and sound right, like  ‘Gwawr' , like  ‘Stomp stomp’ . So we’re releasing them, releasing this album – 2any1 – in '21. Are you listening?

"chuntering machine-driven backing somewhere between early 80s minimal synth and mid-80s electro...expansive array of semi-ambient keyboards and proto-techno rhythms."  Buzz Magazine

Socials: 

Bandcamp -  https://viafantastica. bandcamp.com/

Twitter: @via_fantastica  

Youtube   soundcloud.com/viafantastica  

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc49ETvVD-xfEtutqljabxg/featured 

Facebook:  https://www. facebook.com/viafantastica

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unnamed.jpg “I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything in the book – it will be too radical for some, and for others it won’t be radical enough,” says author Llywelyn ap Gwilym about his new bilingual book,  Llyfr Du Cymru Fydd / The Black Book of the New Wales  (Y Lolfa), which is published this week. 

The organiser of the AUOB Cymru rallies which attracted thousands to pro-independence marches in Cardiff, Caernarfon and Merthyr pre Covid-19 has written his vision of an independent Wales. Llywelyn ap Gwilym, who is also on the Central Committee of YesCymru, said: 

“I’ve supported Welsh independence since I can remember, but without questioning why. Since the birth of my children and moving back to Wales, I’ve thought more deeply about the politics, economics and sociology behind it: I’ve thought more about the ‘why’. Whilst writing  The Black Book of the New Wales,  I started to think that perhaps I could encourage the discourse to develop.” 

The book is an exploration of what a future independent Wales could look like. It is written in the spirit of utopian thinking: its purpose is to question what is, and to envision what could be. Some of the ideas presented are a radical departure from the status quo, while others are becoming part of orthodox leftist thinking. Similarly, there are some precedents in terms of current or former organisations and institutions, others have only been trialled, while some have not yet existed. 

The book has been described as “an exciting blueprint for building a better society” by Dan Evans of Desolation Radio and Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru has said, “For the Indy curious, this is a must-read.” 

The percentage of people in Wales supporting independence has almost tripled over the last six years from 12% in 2014 to 35% in 2020. The Welsh Independence movement is gathering momentum, with membership of YesCymru growing from 2,500 to 17,000 during 2020, and now gets regular attention in the UK media as well as further afield. 

“I hope that the book will help expand further discussions so that more people start sharing ideas on what our values are, what kind of society we want to live in, and how independence for Wales is the most realistic path in order to achieve these changes. It would be tragic to lose the chance to ensure a better future for all who call Wales home and, on winning independence, just to recreate the inequality and unjustness that’s rife in the UK.  The Black Book of New Wales  is my contribution to ensuring a better future.” 

The Black Book of the New Wales by Llywelyn ap Gwilym (£4.99, Y Lolfa) will be available by 1 st  March.



Praise for  The Black Book of the New Wales



“Concise, challenging, doable! There are radical ideas for the kind of Wales we can be, but we need independence, and independence of mind, to unlock that potential. It can’t come from Westminster. Better a Good Wales than a ‘Great’ Britain.”

Siôn T. Jobbins, YesCymru Chair


“… a cracking piece of work. Very clear thinking. Good, sound values base. I love the references you draw on – some of my favourites – Raymond Williams, Gramsci, Bookchin, Bell Hook, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, the Preston stuff and Mondragon. And the way you bring all the thinking together… Your book outlines why it is not tenable for people in Wales to carry on as we are and offers an inclusive vision of real independence. For the Indy curious, this is a must-read.”

Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru

 

“A small book with big ideas! A welcome addition to the independence debate.”

Cian Ciarán, musician (Super Furry Animals), composer and YesCymru Vice-Chair

 

“Llywelyn ap Gwilym’s The Black Book of the New Wales doesn’t claim to have all the answers, it weaves together an empowering series of concepts and initiatives that are ready and willing to form new institutions and structures.”

Ben Gwalchmai, Founder of Labour for an Independent Wales


“An exciting blueprint for building a better society.”

Dan Evans, Desolation Radio


“Llywelyn ap Gwilym’s  Llyfr Du  is an essential contribution to the vision that will liberate Wales from the decaying British state.”

Sam Coates, Undod

Posted in: Book News | 0 comments

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In honor of St. David's Day, the North American Festival of Wales and Undeb Cymru a'r Byd (Wales International) are co-sponsoring two NEW virtual Eisteddfod competitions for Youth Solo Voice... Ages 7-11 and Ages 12-16.  Three top prizes in each category (£100 - £50 - £25 for UK entrants, otherwise paid out in the local currency equivalent).

Please go to the link below for all details/rules/guidelines (in English and Welsh)!

The adjudicating panel includes some greats from the Welsh cultural sphere... Edward Morus Jones, Mary Jones McGuyer and Catrin "Toffoc" Jones!

Each entrant is asked to submit a video of one song in Welsh, created in 2021 and three minutes or less in length, during a strictly limited, 24-hour window (Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, between midnight and midnight Eastern Time).  Winning entries will be announced and posted at the North American Festival of Wales (NAFOW) website,  www.nafow.org , on February 27, 2021.

We look forward to seeing some great performances soon! 

LINK TO COMPETITIONS PAGE:  http://festivalofwales.org/gan-o-gymru---eisteddfod-competition.html

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