Tristwch Y Fenywod Tristwch Y Fenywod

Night School / School Daze
30th August 2024

Format Info

LP - black vinyl

Singing black-lit liturgies of bog bodies caked in mud, entranced by nocturnal landscapes flickering in the moon-glow and powered by queer enchantment, Tristwch y Fenywod are a Welsh-language gothic avant-rock power-coven. Exhumed from the depths of Leeds’ experimental underground, the trio consist of Gwretsien Ferch Lisbeth (GuttersnipeThe Ephemeron Loop), Leila Lygad (Hawthonn) and Sidni Sarffwraig (Slaylor MoonThe Courtneys).

Stark, striking and bewitching, Tristwch y Fenywod’s self-titled album is their debut studio recording, following just 10 gigs and a live demo. Formed in 2022, Tristwch y Fenywod (“The Sadness of Women”) record exclusively in the Welsh language, conjuring an eldritch, subterranean, alien folk music played on dual zither, electronic drums and bass guitar. With towering, siren-like vocals curling around the Welsh consonants, accompanied by stark, martial rhythms and swirling claw-plucked strings, Tristwch y Fenywod feels like an early 4AD recording dredged from the waters of an Anglesey swamp. The effect is simultaneously chilling and stirring.

The eight tracks on the record constitute what feels like a recently rediscovered, unholy grail of edgy, atmospheric, occult feminist goth emissions. Gwretsien’s dual-zither playing scatters melodic fragments and spirals of harmony around the decimated space opened up by the lugubrious bass playing and pounding, brooding drum pads. Coupled with the Welsh vocal, Tristwch y Fenywod embody a new, unique Celtic darkwave sound, equal parts Pornography-era The CureSvitlana Nianio’s haunted hammered string-work and the dark beauty of Dead Can Dance or This Mortal Coil. Opener Blodyn Gwyrdd feels like the last ride of Princess Ukok, with lumbering bass and 6/8 rhythms in procession to the event horizon with an entreating, impassioned vocal and surprising lyrical theme. The doomed dancing of the zither provides the mysterious melodic bedrock throughout the album, particularly on Ferch Gyda’r Llygaid Du’s heavy funereal sway and the slowly building, paroxysmal banshee breakdown of Awen: an astonishing swell of thrilling chaos.

The album was recorded and produced by Ross Halden and the band at Hohm Studio, Bradford, Summer 2023.