Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci iTunes Tracks

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci

Up until the onset of the mighty MANIC STREET PREACHERS, Welsh indie-rock music had been somewhat fallow in the early 90s compared to other stretches of the UK. Then up popped three major components in relatively quick succession (GORKY’S ZYGOTIC MYNCI, CATATONIA and SUPER FURRY ANIMALS), and all initially underlining an insistence to be independent and of their own lingo and colloquialism. Of this fresher than fresh triumvirate, the Gorky’s were probably the least attractive in terms of pop acumen, but their flow from neo-psychedelia into prog-folk and other genres, caught the imagination of steadfast indie fans from beyond the confines of Carmarthen in south Wales.
Largely influenced by the likes of SYD BARRETT, early SOFT MACHINE and Welsh folk-icon MEIC STEVENS, early 1991 saw the dawn of the wonderfully-monikered GORKY’S ZYGOTIC MYNCI – the name stemming from “gawky” (meaning dimwit), “zygote” (meaning a fertilized egg cell) and “mynci” (Welsh for monkey); the Russian writer Maxim Gorky would also come into question. What was more important was the multi-faceted line-up of the original instrument-swapping band who consisted of school-chums Euros Childs (vocals/keyboards), fellow scribe John Lawrence (vocals/guitar) and Richard James (bass), who almost immediately roped in keyboardist Sion Lane and violinist Steffan Cravos for the recording of their first of two cassette mini-albums, `Allumette’ (1991).
Short of a drummer, Osian Evans would fill the spaces left by Sion and Steffan (the latter would form Welsh-language rappers Tystion), and a second cassette, `Peiriant Pleser’, was distributed in summer 1992. Tracks from these limited-edition hand-outs would find their way on to future releases, more so GORKY’s official Ankst Records debut 10-inch mini-LP, PATIO (1993) {*6}, by which time Euros’ sister Megan Childs (violin) was an integral fifth cog. Label owner Alun Llwyd had seen a swelter of potential in the quintet, each inventive character sketch coming to the fore on `Peanut Dispenser’, `Gwallt Rhegi Pegi’, `Ti! Moses’ etc.
Approximately a year on, their first full album TATAY (1994) {*7}, found favour among the indie circuit, while they toured supporting The FALL; GZM were banned in some local clubs for combining their Welsh and English dialect! Featuring a Canterbury scene/SOFT MACHINE connection from MATCHING MOLE’s `O, Caroline’ (Euros confusingly contributing an identical unconnected title!) and a song about `Kevin Ayers’, their psychedelic head was firmly on their shaky shoulders. Ditto the jangliar `Gwres Prynhawn’, `Y Ffordd Oren’ and `Beth Sy’n Digwydd I’r Fuwch’.
Hot on its heels and complemented by a zany video (and why not!), the single `Merched Yn Neud Gwallt Eu Gilydd’ was as funny as it was frenetic. And just as weird as it wonderfully wacky, `The Game Of Eyes’, was another 7-inch to treasure among the Peely fraternity. Evans superseded by percussionist/drummer Euros Rowlands, March 1995’s `Llanfwrog’ EP contained some cool pieces in `Miss Trudy’ (very BONZOs) and Methu Aros Tan Haf’.
A prelude to the BWYD TIME (1995) {*7} album, the kaleidoscopic `Gewn Ni Gorffen’ was issued as a single without much fuss or attention. A progression into territories like disco, spoken-word vignettes, there were others that struck a cord with MEIC STEVENS acolytes: `Lechyd Da’, `Eating Salt Is Easy’, `Oraphis Yn Delphie’, `The Man With Salt Hair’, `Blood Chant’, and the aforesaid `The Game Of Eyes’.
Probably a left-over or, indeed an afterthought, John Peel (Festive 50) fans woke up to the sunny-day jazz-prog 45, `If Fingers Were Xylophones’. Twinned with the equally cosmic `Moon Beats Yellow’, the GORKY’s were fast becoming an alternative to the BLUR’s and OASIS’s swallowing up the burgeoning Britpop market. What convinced the bosses at Fontana Records was the retro/60s-70s aspect of their next release, the all-encompassing `Ambler Gambler’ EP; which actually featured a country/bluegrass pastiche, `Heart Of Kentucky’, saddled alongside an 8-minute excursion, `2D’.
The subsequent psych-folk years between October 1996 and August 1998 proved to be GORKY’S ZYGOTIC MYNCI most commercially productive and timeless era. They’d had a hard time competing with their country’s “Fuzzy Logic” counterparts SUPER FURRY ANIMALS, whom, incidentally, could turn in the odd Welsh-speaking dirge or two. Now more akin to another iconic from-the-valleys hero, MEIC STEVENS, or the sunny side of Caledonian acid-folkers The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, the GORKY’s hit pay-dirt (and the Top 50) when trippy singles `Patio Song’ and the pixie-esque `Diamond Dew’ reached new heights.
Parent set, BARAFUNDLE (1997) {*9}, was duly given the thumbs up, a slow burner in folk circles apparently, although its halcyon day folk appeal and future freak-folk acceptance deservedly came through in time. If one was looking for evidence (and there were a few cosmic rocks thrown in here), one could set one’s controls for the heart of the `Starmoonsun’, `Heywood Lane’, `Cursed, Coined & Crucified’, `The Wizard & The Lizard’, `Dark Night’ and the truly Celtic-like tear-jerker, `Sometimes The Father Is The Son’.
GORKY 5 (1998) {*6} was a let-down by comparison, as there were few signs of psych-folk inside its grooves; the singles `Sweet Johnny’ and `Let’s Get Together (In Our Minds)’ were more countri-fied, although by the lilting finale, `Catrin’ and Festive 50 fave `Hush The Warmth’, one was asking the question why? On reflection, maybe the balance was perfect in the sense that the Gorky’s would not be pigeon-holed into a certain category.
After being dropped by Fontana early in ‘99, GZM hooked up with Beggars Banquet subsidiary Mantra, only for Lawrence to become disillusioned just days before signing; he would duly turn up in his own Infinity Chimps. However, a new line-up – with Rhodry Pugh in tow – promoted the much-improved SPANISH DANCE TROUPE (1999) {*8}; the Catalonian-inspired title track scraping into the Top 50. If one can think of a Welsh BLUR, then the howler `Poodle Rockin’’, was in stark contrast to the sincere and wistful `She Lives On A Mountain’ and `Hallway’. Megan’s lamenting vocals and violin on the minute-long `Don’t You Worry’ was much too short, as were Richard James’ flighty instrumental allocations.
By the time GORKY’s had issued the bare-bones and sparse mini-set, THE BLUE TREES (2000){*7}, their sound had mellowed so much it was hardly recognisable. The set included eight pieces, all produced by Gorwel Owen (his poignant diary entry about Bambi, authored when he was nine years-old is worth searching out), were penned by Euros C with the occasional track by James. But what remained standard on the album was the acoustic reverberation of mandolins, violins, pianos, strummed guitars and songs about summer. So folksy and introverted was the title track that once the piano trills began, one had forgotten that one was listening to the champions of Welsh Indie; instead convinced that one tuned into something by NICK DRAKE. Campfire song, `The Summer’s Been Good From The Start’, saw its author reminiscing over blue skies and green fields, while a country-blues fiddle quietly wailed over the acoustic guitar. If GORKY’s had been invited to play on MTV’s “Unplugged”, this was what it would’ve sounded like.
The sunny theme was denoted even further when the group issued the album, HOW I LONG TO FEEL THAT SUMMER IN MY HEART (2001) {*7}; another back-to-basics approach for GZM. However, this wasn’t a bad thing as tracks such as `Can Megan’ and `How I Long’ (that ended up turning into a kind of homage to the 70s with its brass-led outro), still evoked the calm heard on their previous set. If “Spanish DT” amazed music listeners with its complex structures and blinding ambiguity, then with `Where Does Yer Go Now?’, `Stood On Gold’ and `Let Those Blue Skies’, the Gorky’s had re-invented their own wheel.
The hushed SLEEP / HOLIDAY (2003) {*7} continued the Welsh dreamers’ addictive preoccupation with impossible nostalgia and pastoral paradise lost, while never quite foregoing their trademark unpredictability. Taking their cue from The BEACH BOYS for `Leave My Dreaming’ and a re-imagined country-rock ADAM AND THE ANTS for `Mow The Lawn’, Megan’s fiddle had become key to the endearing GORKY’s.
But with EUROS CHILDS, RICHARD JAMES and Co developing their music from other fields of fancy, their decision to pack up their sorrows in May 2006 was an easy one, before tides changed and sons became fathers – so to speak.
© MC Strong 1998-2011/GRD-GFD2 // rev-up MCS Aug2016

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