With her much–anticipated second album Le Kov due for release 2nd March via Heavenly Recordings, Gwenno has today shared a video for “Tir Ha Mor”, the first single to be released from the LP.
Of the video Gwenno says: “We drove to St Ives and marvelled at the crashing waves, went up the coast, past Zennor and arrived at Levant Mine to pause for thought and remember those who had given and lost so much to the land. All we could do was appreciate the rugged landscape, as so many had done before us. We drove back to Cardiff and I mulled over the merits of dancing to your own song, and concluded that it's alright to do so sometimes. Cornish Abstract Landscape artist, Peter Lanyon, Marghek an Gwyns (Rider of the Wind, his Cornish Gorsedd bardic name) glided over the land to get a better feel of Cornwall, and Tir Ha Mor (Land and Sea) is inspired by his methods and muse. I filmed what was in front of me, which is nowhere near the same level of commitment, but it is my interpretation of what I saw and felt and that, I hope, is worth something.”
.Live dates from December through 'til April 2018
Watch the new album trailer:
Having last month signalled her 2018 return, Gwenno has today announced the release date of her new album Le Kov on 2nd March via Heavenly Recordings and available to preorder here.
Gwenno has also shared a new LP trailer, which can be viewed HERE, and announced a bunch of live performances in support of the album, beginning in early December in Falmouth and Merthyr Tydfil and running through to April 2018 with a show at London’s Hoxton Hall. Dates/info below:
What if your mother tongue is an ancient language of a land that you’ve never lived in, whose native speakers have only recently broken 200 years’ silence? What if the only place it has ever
existed over the years is hundreds of miles away, in your home and your heart?
With her debut album, 2014’s Y Dydd Olaf (The Final Day), Gwenno Saunders made a bold statement about the importance of protecting minority languages. Drawing from her upbringing as the daughter of Welsh and Cornish language activists, and Welsh writer Owain Owain’s 1976 sci-fi novel of the same name, her psychedelic synth-pop opus won the 2015 Welsh Music Prize and Best Welsh Album at Wales’ National Eistedfodd, along with acclaim from The Observer (“these are songs brimming with ideas, both musical and political”) and Pitchfork (“one of the best British debuts of 2015”). Nine of its ten songs were in Welsh; the last, Amser (Time), was in Cornish.
Working with long-time collaborator, Rhys Edwards, the Welsh musician and singer’s next album, due in Spring 2018, continues her trailblazing mission, picking up exactly where Y Dydd Olaf left off. Written entirely in Cornish, Le Kov translates as “the place of memory”.
The album's title crystallises Gwenno’s relationship to the language—a fluent speaker of Cornish who has seldom ventured south of the River Tamar, let alone lived there. As a child, she imagined that Cornish held similar cultural weight to the Welsh language: a living, spoken tongue that coursed through everyday life. “How wrong I was” she admits.
Yet the Cornish language has experienced a notable revival since the turn of the 20th century. There are now around 1000 fluent speakers, locals were encouraged to claim Cornish identity on the 2011 census, and in 2014 the Cornish people were granted minority status within the UK. It’s huge progress—but Gwenno wasn’t sure how she fit into all this. Could she lay claim to any kind of Cornish identity? What she did know was that as one of the language’s few fluent speakers she felt a duty to make her next album entirely in Cornish: to create a document of a living language, to explore her identity and the endless creative possibilities of a tongue that has a very small surviving artistic output, despite having been around for at least 15 centuries.
The result is an exploration of the individual and collective subconcious and the ‘dream state’, the myths and drolls of Cornwall, and the survival of Britain’s lesser known Brythonic language. More than that, in the age of Brexit, isolationism and hostility towards the rich cultures that make up modern Britain, Le Kov takes on an unexpected wider resonance, and contains bold messages about the importance of respecting and forging links with other cultures—no matter how small.