Friday, November 27, 2015

A'r Enillydd Yw...

Despite the best efforts of several teachers, I don't speak Welsh. Well, I know a few phrases - useful stuff like  "rydw i'n hoffi sboncen" and "rydw i'n hefyd y gaeth i heroin" - but certainly not enough for a proper conversation, and absolutely not enough to fully appreciate Welsh-language albums like Gwenno's Y Dydd Olaf.

Y Dydd Olaf won the 2015 Welsh Music Prize last night, and good on it. I got the album for my birthday back in August, and I was instantly drawn to its foreboding, overcast feel and its thick stew of synthesisers. Weirdly, I also love how dated it sounds - '80s stuff seems to be very en vogue at the moment, but where Taylor Swift et al merely tip their hats to that era, Y Dydd Olaf genuinely does sound like it was recorded around the time Margaret Thatcher took office.

But, being a wordy sort of person, I've always found it hard to fully appreciate albums in languages I don't understand. Sure, I can pick out the odd word on Y Dydd Olaf (I know that the title of closing track Amser means 'time', and I'm guessing that Patriarchaeth translates to 'patriarchy'), and various online materials have given me clues as to its inspiration and themes, but I would nevertheless be very hard-pressed to actually, say, write a decent blog post about Y Dydd Olaf.

So why am I writing about the album now? Perhaps I just needed to apologise to Miss Davidson and her long-suffering colleagues for assuming, back in secondary school, that I didn't need Welsh; miss, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. I wish I'd made more of an effort to actually master Cymraeg back then, instead of just looking for the funniest-sounding words and joking about being a drug addict.

Had I truly embraced those mandatory Welsh lessons, I may well have had far more to say about Y Dydd Olaf today, in the wake of Gwenno's big win. As it turns out, all I can do is offer my congratulations and recommend that you check out the album whether you speak Welsh or not. Oh, and if you're still in school, think twice about how seriously you take your Welsh lessons: speaking only English may well be sufficient to see you through life at large, but you never know what remarkable artistic statements you might miss out on in the future.

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