Various Artists ~ CAM 1

cam1CAM 1 is meant to highlight the diverse sonic talent of Wales, but it ends up being a larger advertisement for the diversity of music itself.  This is exactly what a compilation is meant to do: create interest in the label, the artists and the nation of origin.

The radio show “Cam o’r Tywyllwch’ (A Step From the Darkness)” debuted last year.  Its declarative statement – the first song played – was a song from the decidedly non-commercial Y Pencadlys.  One recalls the debut of MTV, and the prescience of “Video Killed the Radio Star”.  Could a radio show change the world?  In this case, it might.  The difference this show makes is in finding truly alternative music and sharing it with the masses, through Radio Cardiff and Resonance FM (London).  While hosts Gwenno Saunders and Peski Records concentrate on Wales, they also look beyond their native land to find songs that match, like a personalized app.  (Those who are older know that it’s really the other way around.)  On CAM 1, the flow is exquisite.  Despite the varied nature of these selections, one feels a sense of natural tumble.  Listening is like stumbling across a mysterious radio station from a faraway land, then being told, this is a real land!  It’s Wales!  You’re missing out!

Why can’t radio be like this all the time?  The average American radio station adds only two or three songs each week: for those seeking “new” music, 12 minutes a week is all it takes to keep up.  When all the submissions are added up, our site receives over 1000 new songs each week, and we represent only a tiny section of the market.  The problem is obvious: musicians need champions.  And they have found one in Cam o’r Tywyllwch.  Fortunately, the people choosing the music also have great ears.

CAM 1 is unmixed, but it comes across as a great mix tape, the type one trades with friends.  “I’ll bet you’ve never heard anything like this,” one might say while tucking the tape into a friend’s shirt pocket.  (The release is vinyl, but you get the point.)  It’s really hard to choose highlights; I’ve been playing the album in full again and again, and it sounds perfect that way.  But those seeking a small bit of guidance will find it in the following sentence.  R. Seiliog offers a perfect summer track in the calliope-esque, handclapping “Pysgod”; David Mysterious samples a card puncher on “Cymylog Ddu”; Lembo mashes up traditional folk music and Afrikka Bambaata on “A Las Barricadas”; and Carcharorion Riddim offers a devastatingly beautiful vocal piece in “Beth yw’r Haf?”. But this isn’t being fair to the other artists, whose work is exemplary, especially in the context of this sequenced collection.  When one listens to these songs, one thinks, “Wales must have the coolest music in the world.”  Now THAT’S what I call a compilation.  (Richard Allen)

Available here

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