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VRi - Ty Ein Tadau (Erwydd Records)

Star rating: 

Patrick Rimes, fiddle and viola, Jordan Price Williams, Cello and Aneirin Jones, fiddle, make up Welsh chamber folk trio VRi. On Ty EIN TADAU, the band's self produced debut album they are joined by vocalist, Beth Celyn. The trio's music is structured and layered like chamber music but has some of the visceral darkness of Folk music. Like all the best music, there is light and dark, moments of silence and bursts of intense emotional noise. Dewch I'r Frwydr is a traditional Hymn tune from an 1859 collection. Stately and sombre it buzzes with a sense of Dvorak. The set Breow Kernow marries a structure and bounce of dance where the Fiddles bob and weave over a percussive Cello, with a soaring tune with the spiralling grace of Vaughan Williams Lark Ascending. In flight and in frolicing dance the trio are captivating, the lines of the three instruments flying like falling water.

At times the booklet notes, expansive on the songs, but tantalisingly scant on musicians left me guessing. An educated guess would be that the band and Beth handle the fine harmonised vocals on Ffoles Llantrisant a fine contrast to the beautifully played music. Crug Y Bar, sublimely played is another Hymn tune, with the three stringed instruments offering a perfect interlude of chamber music. Cob Malltraeth an Anglesey folk song is a dark Folk psych classic. Plucked strings throb, while the Fiddles and Beth Celyn alternately soar and brood on this atmospheric album highlight. The Cyw Bach set is a trio of jigs, a tune by band member Jordan and two traditional Welsh ones.

After the dense atmosphere of the previous track, these just fly. Aros Mae'r Mynyddau Mawr is fusion with words by the Welsh bard Ceirog set to a melody in the Irish style of Sean-nos singing. Blended by the playing of the trio, the vocals are superb. Clychau Aberdyfi is a swirling hallucinogenic mix of songs about bells, with group vocals and words in Welsh and English it is an effecting track. Taflu Rwdins is a longer piece a mix of a Swedish tune and a piece of Welsh fiddler Mike Lease. The wordless vocals at the end are Hymn like and moving after some moving playing. The stated intention of this album is to celebrate traditional Welsh music, kept alive in part in the Hymn tunes of Chapel. So the old frowned upon music was breathed into the Chapel music. Ton Fechan Meifod certainly has a peace, a grave and the serenity of the Chapel. Final track Gwr a i Farch, is part crackling dance and part quiet contemplation, a fitting end to this striking album.  

Marc Higgins 
Northern Sky