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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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9Bach's new take on Welsh roots music

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It's official. I 've finally played some Welsh music on the air for the first time, something from a group called 9Bach that that in my initial listen didn't seem to have any appeal for me. The second go round was way better; fresh ears tend to do that. Apart from having a strange name and featuring songs sung in Welsh, 9Bach also carries a vibe that somehow dances between polarities; mitigating shadow with light, heaviness on a tender touch and cold distance next to the warm fire that lead singer Lisa Jen holds like light gathered in a prism. 'Intriguing' is the word I'd use to describe the group's second album, Tincian which dropped on May 14th on Real World Records.

Tincian is an atmospheric, emotional surge of a record that draws influences from their Welsh roots. According to Lisa Jen:

Tincian can mean a lot of things, to move with a tinkling sound, to ring and make a clear sound. Depending on what area of Wales you are from, the meaning varies. It comes to life in dialogue when you use sentences like "I gave him such a talking to, he didn't know what had hit him...he was 'tincian'." It's almost like a cartoon image of someone's head being hit by a hammer'.

Jen goes on to explain that the songs were written and draw from a variety of places and experiences...

...in the back of a 4x4 travelling to the remote community of Papunya Northern Territory Australia, in a chapel vestry in Bethesda, and the bulk was written in Llanddewi-Brefi, Ceredigion. Mart and I took ourselves there to song write and demo, and there is no mobile phone signal or internet. I found myself wanting to write about home... the landscape, the nature, families and foxes...

...I never aspired to be a songwriter, but when I was in Australia in 2012, collaborating with the Black Arm Band, my time there became life changing. I was embraced by the Aboriginal culture, their history and their languages. The stories they told and the things they taught me. They opened my eyes to the earth I stood on, the nature that surrounds me, the voices heard by ancestors. I blame these amazing aboriginal sisters for inspiring me to write and sing and tell stories!

And true to form, Tincian resonates with the power of something unexpected yet strangely forgone. It makes perfect sense the second time around and carries a beauty like a memory unbound from its origin. Tincian evokes the forgotten landscapes, family life and love that knows pain as well as sadness recals joy. The songs are treated with care, backed with a light touch of electronic instrumentation. A couple of tunes stick out on the album, the dubbed out "Lliwiau"which means Colours. It's a song written about childbirth. All the colours you can see when you close your eyes and the instant love that you feel for this soul that comes out. And the other is "Pa Le?,"a traditional Welsh song meaning "which place." Check it out...