In many ways, rock music in the UK managed to re-invent itself in the 1990s. It was a decade that encompassed not only Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches by Happy Mondays, but also In It for the Money by Supergrass, not only Different Class by Pulp, but also OK Computer by Radiohead. In each case, there was more than a nodding reference to the 1960s, but each band managed to find different ways to make the reference liberating rather than constricting.
Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s album Barafundle (released in 1997) likewise took its cue from the same turbulent decade, but perhaps in an even more radical and daring way. Though less commercially successfully than its contemporaries, the group managed to achieve considerable critical approval in many quarters; not only for the quality and breadth of its musicianship, but also for its diverse, experimental approach to song composition in which melodies often take leave of themselves extremely early on to form completely different melodies!
Formed in 1991 in Carmarthen, Wales, the band’s music has been labelled, somewhat crudely, as either psychedelic folk or alternative rock. In some sense these descriptions are correct, but only in a limited or qualified way. For me, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci (which disbanded in 2006) simply inhabited a class of one; it was utterly unique.
At the heart of the band were three extremely talented multi-instrumentalists: Euros Childs, John Lawrence and Richard James who started an association at Bro Myrddin Welsh Comprehensive School. Later they were joined by others, including Euros’s sister Megan.
You want some bearings? Imagine a bilingual mashup between The Beatles and The Incredible String Band with a strong twist of Captain Beefheart! But you’ll still get really lost. I promise you that! Maybe psilocybin is somewhere in the mix, but much more so are the abiding virtues of the Welsh Educational System.
Barafundle, named after the coastal resort, is simply a treasure trove of delights, surprises and terminal weirdness. To name a few gems: ‘Diamond Dew’, ‘The Barafundle Bumbler’, ‘Patio Song’ ‘Heywood Lane’, ‘Sometimes the Father Is the Son’ and ‘Starmoonsun’ which features here.
Wales may be currently ‘in lockdown’, but these guys never were!
[NB The track below is offered in the lossless FLAC format which is now supported by most recent browsers and operating systems.]